Early Music Festival Utrecht 2015 part 14: Pia Pircher

Fringe concert: Pia Pircher’s Echoes from the Past

It is quite a walk from Tivoli-Vredenburg to Utrecht’s Museum Catharijne Convent. This interesting museum is one of several museums, where fringe concerts of the Utrecht Early Music Festival take place. This time, it was the second fringe concert by a musician who had played at a different location earlier during the day.

Pia Pircher had selected 18th century viola da gamba music from French and German composers to show the contrasts, as well as the influences and imitations. In fact, she mentioned these influences and cross-influences continued down generations. They could be shown in a kind of master-pupil relation between various viola da gamba players.

This may sound as an interesting start for a concert. However, ms Pircher gave only this one introductory explanation to her concert and selected pieces of music. Undoubtedly there were members in the public who were able to distinguish all the various influences, styles, cross-influences and how these played out through generations and could be heard in the various pieces. There must have been amateur viola da gamba players present who were familiar with some of the pieces. I did hear a few remark positively on the excellent technical performance.

However, unfortunately, after about thirty minutes, most members of the audience lost track of which piece was being played. Quite a few dozed off and a great many sheets of paper and other belongings started to scatter to the floor of the intimate hall. At the last fringe concert I attended this day, one of my neighbours remarked it had all become a kind of bland soup and I had to agree with this. Perhaps the audience who had attended ms Pircher’s first concert of the day had been far more appreciative.

The previous festival, I had been rather overfed on viola da gamba music and especially this kind of concert. After too much Marin Marais and other composers included in this concert, I still have a problem digesting and appreciating a concert around them, if the musician lacks stage presence and does not “present” pieces to ensure the audience remains captivated and absorbed in what goes on on stage. How all the French pieces were linked to the festival’s theme also remained unclear.

So despite a promising theme, this fringe concert was okay for most of the audience, though slightly too long. It simply was too much for amateurs and lay-musicians.

Ms Pircher played the following pieces
Suite in D “Les voix humaines” by Marin Marais;
Chaconne in d by Monsieur de Santie-Colombe
Suite in G « La guitare (quite impressive), by Marin Marais
Sonata in a by Johan Schenck
An anonymous French tune called Aria Cantabile in A en a
Suite in D by Carl Friedrich Abel
Suite d’un gout étranger “La Reveuse” by Marin Marais
La girouette by Antoine Forqueray

Pia Pircher, Echoes from the Past, Museum Catharijne Convent, Utrecht, 3rd of September 2015
Pia Pircher viola da gamba (6 strings)

Youtube Official Early Music Festival website with videos and music

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