Utrecht Early Music Festival 2016 part 2: opening concert

The opening concert of Utrecht’s 35th Early Music Festival by Gli Angeli was of course beautiful and impressive. By now, nothing less is expected of the festival’s artists in residence. Especially in the first Friday evening concert which kicks off the festival.

As mentioned in earlier posts, this festival’s theme is “La Serenissima”. The Venetian Republic’s music has a long history, a varied tradition, and had a great impact on European classical music. For Venice was such an important port, dominant power, with a trade network ranging from England to all the Mediterranean, it served as a melting pot.

Early Music Festival Utrecht 1Yet Friday evening’s concert by Swiss ensemble Gli Angeli and conductor Stephan MacLeod was “all about” Johann Rosenmüller. Yes, a very German name. But according to the first artistic director of the Utrecht Early Music Festival, Rosenmúller is one of the European composers who ensured the Venetian style and music became known outside “La Serenissima”.

Not much is known about Rossenmüller’s early years. He worked at Leipzig. But aged about 30 he had already ended up in Venice – via Hannover or Hamburg. Reason for his migration: accusations of severe sexual misconduct.

Rosenmüller’s music, including his adaptations of works by Monteverdi and others, as well as him buying Italian music for German catholic courts at Hannover and Weimar, ensured Italian and music composed in the Venetian style could be heard at these courts. A few years before he died, Rosenmüller actually moved back to Germany.

Review of Gli Angeli GenevaIt seems not all of his works have yet been published. Research and publication of Rosenmüller’s work is currently being carried out in Germany. The selection of religious pieces performed by Gli Angeli was brilliant. It is difficult to decide which part of the concert pleased most. The “Laudate” before the break was dazzling, but so where the pieces after the break. The overall impression left, is one of a better concert than the opening one of the Early Music Festival 2015. In short: quite a promising start!

Some may hear the influence of Monteverdi. On the other hand, there is something pointing to Vivaldi. During the second part of the concert, there was a moment which reminded me even of a work by Purcell.

Though all music of this concert was religious, it regularly reminded one of opera. At times, the music bordered on the frivolous. It certainly is more jubilant and joyful and more about paradise and promises of a heavenly Jerusalem, than about hell, doom, damnation and a vale of tears.

Obtaining tickets for other concerts by Gli Angeli may be a problem. Best advice is to scroll down and use the link to the festival’s website to see for which concerts tickets can still be obtained. One may try to obtain “last minutes” when reservations are cancelled or reserved tickets not collected in time, but chances are slim.

After the interesting opening concert, it needs to be stressed that Gli Angeli and Stephan MacLeod are apparently not the only artists in residence of the festival’s 35th edition. There is also  Ms Olga Pashchenko.

Ms Pashchenko started as one of the many fringe concert performers at this very festival. Ms Pashchenko will not only perform during this festival. She is one of the artists who will be interviewed for the festival’s daily radio bulletins. These take place at the festival’s main building, Tivoli-Vredenburg, and can also be heard on the Dutch classical music radio station NPO3 between 19:00 and 19:30 local time.

Let’s hope there will be more fringe musicians performing this year, who are on their way to becoming future artists in residence of this very special Early Music Festival in Utrecht.

Utrecht Early Music Festival 2016 “La Serenissima”

Artists in Residence Gli Angeli performing at the 2015 festival

Olga Pashchenko playing Antonio Soler’s Fandango


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