Utrecht Early Music Festival 2016 part 5: Primary Colors

The third fringe concert I attended, took place in the auditorium of the Catharijne Convent. The museum is a sprawling former convent, but its auditorium is not overly large. This is one of the places about which I blogged last year, in one of the posts focussing on the public.

Sure enough: that very morning, while getting my fringe concert ticket for this concert, I noticed a familiar face. The artful dodger, who had managed to evade donating money after a fringe concert at the auditorium of the Catharijne Convent last year. He was collecting tickets for fringe concerts as well.

Sure enough: while I was already seated downstairs at the Catharijne Convent’s auditorium, he happily and gaily ran up the stairs for a seat at the auditorium’s balcony. Last year, he had led the “escape” of all the people seated on the balcony by way of a back door and thus ensuring he and his jolly group did not donate anything to the fringe musicians performer there.

Perhaps it was all innocently enough, but just in case he was planning another such cheap action depriving young musicians from badly needed financial support … I had a quiet word with one of the volunteers. At the end of Primary Colors’ concert, all visitors were met at the gate leading to the museum’s square, by two of the three musicians holding a hat. This ensured none of the audience got away without donating some money to covering the costs these musicians had made to perform at a fringe concert.

As for Primary Colors concert: it was the first fringe concert I attended, where one of the musicians actually took the trouble to introduce the selected works and composers to the public. This was especially helpful, as Andrew Burn, Annabeth Shirley and Andreas Westermann performed three sonata by lesser known or totally unknown 18th century composer-performers and the selected sonatas were going to be played in a slightly altered sequence.

As mr Burns quite rightly remarked: Pieter Hellendaal’s music should be played more often. The sonata opus 5 nr 2, which was played after Antoine Dard’s sonata, certainly was a frisky and captivating piece. As for Antoine Dard’s sonata: brilliant!

The concert ended with all three musicians taking part in a rendering of sonata nr 4 by Gaetano Chiabrano. Interesting to learn that the latter travelled from Italy to England to meet one of his brothers and this sonata was performed in Paris. As for Hellendaal: also interesting to learn he migrated to England, worked as a freelancer there and was deemed an exceptional composer-performer. When do we ever hear any of his works played? Why do we need to happen to be at a concert like this to be introduced to his work?

In short: this was a true fringe concert as used to happen more often during earlier versions of this Early Music Festival. Unknown or no longer familiar composers being re-introduced to an unsuspecting audience, by talented young musicians who love their early music instruments and are not afraid to leave beaten paths and perform works which were once much esteemed.

Though the sounds of the instruments did not blend as harmoniously as during the concert by Jong Barok, Primary Colors certainly should perform again next year. Perhaps at a venue more convenient to the combination of bassoon, cello and harpsichord. In the auditorium the bassoon sounded louder than the other two instruments.

Primary Colors

  • Andrew Burn, bassoon
  • Annabeth Shirley, cello
  • Andreas Westermann, harpsichord

Antoine Dard, Sonata Opus 2 nr 3, from Six sonatas pour bassoon ou violoncello avec la basse continue, Paris 1759
Pieter Hellendaal, Sonata Opus 5 nr 2, from Eight sonatas for cello and basso continuo, Cambridge 1780
Gaetano Chiabrano, Sonata nr 4 from Six sonatas for the violoncello or bassoon, London 1784

Andrew Burns kindly notified me this concert was one of two he takes part in during this festival.

Wednesday 31st of August 2016, the New Baroque Orchestra, part of the fabulous fringe group of Utrecht’s Early Music Festival, will perform at the Stadsklooster. No tickets need to be obtained in advance.
The Stadsklooster is located at Kanaalweg 200 Utrecht and accessible for wheelchairs. The New Baroque Orchestra’s free concert starts at 15:30 and the orchestra will play works by Lapis, Bononcini and Marcello.

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