Early Music Festival Utrecht 2015 part 20: Arta Helsinki

Fabulous Fringe concert: the sweet return of Arta Helsinki

The last fringe concerts of the Early Music Festival in Utrecht took place Sunday the 6th of September. Still sniggering after attending the Scroll Ensemble’s interpretation of a Masque, I sauntered back to the ugly Tivoli-Vredenburg building. Like others, I had chosen Arta Helsinki’s fabulous fringe concert to conclude the series of fringe concerts of the 2015 festival.

The ensemble performed at previous Early Music Festivals, so it was indeed a “Dolci Gli Ritorni” concert for musicians and audience. As usual, the selection of pieces from a repertoire spanning three centuries was an excellent one.

Though no fan of organ music, the combination of various recorders played by mr Arvo and a small chest organ played by ms Tamminen worked brilliantly. The duo started their concert with Flemish-Burgundian pieces. They took their audience south with pieces composed by Italian and Spanish composers, before finishing their concert with Baroque music by Italian composers. For the later pieces, ms Tamminen played a harpsichord. Apart from playing as a duo, both musicians also played some pieces solo as well.

After the English hurly burly of the merry men’s rendering of the Queen’s Masque in the preceding fringe concert, the fairly introspective – nearly sad – 15th century music with which this concert started, was a nice contrast. Performing the songs using recorders and organ introduced a kind of impressive simplicity which was beautiful to listen to.The 15th and early 16th century music also formed a nice contrast with the more ebullient and rich 17th century Baroque pieces, which concluded this concert.

This concert was another absolutely fabulous fringe one. It was an excellent conclusion to the few days of this festival I had been able to attend. On the first day, the first concert had evolved around transverse music. So a last fringe concert combining various recorders with organ or harpsichord, was a fitting finish.

The duo started with a musical rendering of “Adieu mes tres belles amours”. There followed more recorder and organ renderings of music which attracts ensembles like Paul van Nevel and the Huelgas Ensemble. It is interesting to hear such songs being played on just a recorder, or just an organ, or the combination of both instruments. The contrast between the rendering of “Adieu mes tres belles amours” and the last two pieces from this concert illustrated perfectly, how music styles and musical tastes evolved and changed during three centuries.

The last day of this festival, the last concerts, are always a bit of a wrench. One takes leave of friends one only meets during this ten-day-long festival. One says goodbye to captivating music and brilliant life performances by young musicians who take part in the fringe concerts. But the music played by Arta Helsinki made the wrench a bitter-sweet one and perhaps, they will give another “dolci gli ritorni” concert at the 2016 version of this festival. For most of the pieces they selected for this concert, will fit in brilliantly with the 2016 theme.

Arta Helsinki performed the following pieces:
– Adieu mes tres belles amours, Gilles Binchois ; Buxheimer Orgelbuch
– Anchor che col partire, Cipriano de Rore ; Giovanni Battista Spadi
– Ricercare IV, Giovanni Bassano
– Pis ne me peult venir, Antonio de Cabezón
– Qui la dira, Antonio de Cabezón
– Differencias sobre la gallarda milanesa, Antonio de Cabezón
– Io son ferito ahi lasso, Palestrina ; Francesco Rognoni
– Toccata I, Frescobaldi
– Sonata Seconda, Dario Castello

Arta Helsinki, “Dolci Gli Ritorni”, Herz, Tivoli-Vredenburg, Utrecht, September 6th 2015:
Petri Arvo (Renaissance) recorders
Julia Tamminen organ and harpsichord


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