Fringe: “La Foresta Incantata”
At last, time for the fringe concerts of the Utrecht Early Music Festival. As usual: plenty to choose from and unfortunately one can’t split oneself in four parts. So for the Monday morning of the Festival, it was the fringe concert performed by three graces at the Utrecht town hall.
The concert took place in the large wedding hall of this town hall and this hall was full to overflowing. Utrecht’s mayor kindly welcomed the audience and performers. He mentioned his own marriage had actually taken place in the wedding hall. To soften up the public and stimulate it to be generous to the fringe musicians, the mayor pointed out the tapestry of Utrecht’s patron saint. Saint Martin is shown cutting his coat in two to share it with a beggar.
The three graces introduced by Utrecht’s mayor were the members of La Foresta Incantata. Sandra Exner, Michaela Ambrosi, and Laura Santese had met while studying in Verona. They would treat their audience to an extremely brilliant concert on their Baroque flutes.
The concert started with Joseph Bodin de Boismortier’s “Sonate in D” Opus 7 nr 4. It was an impressive start and one of the best pieces of the concert. The ensemble had also chosen 10 pieces by Händel which were played in sets of five. As the ensemble explained, these pieces were often reworks of arias with the flutes replacing the voice. The first five airs, musette and arias where followed by Trio in D QV 3.3.2 by Johann Joachim Quantz. As a member of the ensemble explained, he was the flute teacher of Frederic the Great.
The composers travelled through Europe from court to court and from Maecenas to aristocratic backer. As another member of the ensemble mentioned: flutes are easy to take along while “back packing” through Europe.
Another set of airs, minuet and dead march (from the opera Saul) composed by Händel followed and were again perfectly performed. The last pieces by Händel was a “chorus for three German flutes”. From Händel it was to a sonata in D Opus 3 nr 3 by Karl Friedrich Weidemann. Together with the Sonata by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier, this sonata belonged to the best two of the whole concert.
The ensemble concluded their concert with a Terzetto in D Opus 10 by Franz Anton Hoffmeister. As the previous pieces by say Johann Joachim Quantz or Karl Friedrich Weidemann, this was a piece which according to the three graces would probably have been played in an “enchanted” court garden or park. They challenged the audience to try and hear how many animals there were, for the great outdoors does not consists of trees, hedges, and flowers. As this terzetto is called “la gallina, il cuccù, e l’asino” it was not exactly a challenge!
This was the first fringe concert in a long while, which combined a perfect performance with perfect stage presence and excellent manners. The ensemble not only showed knowledge outside their specific field of expertise, but also was one of the few who thanked not only the organisation and audience for enabling them to play during the Festival. The three ladies specifically thanked the volunteers who play such an important role in making the fringe concerts possible. A fact which is far too often forgotten by the public and artists.
La Foresta Incantata 31st August 2015, Utrecht town hall
Sandra Exner Baroque flute
Michaela Ambrosi Baroque flute
Laura Santese Baroque flute
The interesting and entertaining book on musical travels through an earlier Europe recommended as a good read by the ensemble is Charles Burney’s “Musical Travels”.