Bold, brisk, and bubbly were the bywords for Europa Galante’s Wednesday night concert at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
Everything the Italian baroque music group of 10 men and one woman played was as effervescent as champagne with not a little fire water added in the guise of its director and solo violinist, Fabio Biondi.
He tore up the technical charts like a speedster without dropping a note and still had enough room to add some expert ornamentation.
The program began with Purcell’s suite of incidental music from “Abdelazer, or the Moor’s Revenge” — a 1695 bloody drama.
Tempos were very vigorous, everyone played with a flashy edge to their techniques and the dynamic range was interesting.
Accents were emphasized, which gave the gambist and the bassist a more voluble voice than in most period music groups. The energy level was very high, which made the music sound fresh.
In Leclair’s Concerto for Violin and Strings, Op. 7, No. 3 (1737), Biondi played taut articulations.
The ensemble, which was extremely well polished throughout the evening, put good air between the phrases.
The first movement was bouncy, the second and slower movement played in baroque style with a bare hint of vibrato on the longer held notes.
Biondi took his time in an unusually chromatic mini-cadenza. The final movement was perky with strong accents and fiery playing.
Biondi arranged eight short pieces by composers from Italy (Galuppi), Germany (Muffat, Telemann), Austria (Biber) and France (Campra, Destouches) to form a suite, “Les Nations.”
A lot of the music sounded similar. You can’t get away from the baroque style of a lot of fast notes, tight harmonies and strongly tonal resolutions.
But the pieces he chose had a few passages here and there that showed an adventurous thought.
Telemann’s “Badinerie italienne” was in a pleasing minor key; Biber’s “Les Barbares” was furious and fast, and Telemann’s “Les Danoises” repeated a slow to fiery sequence with panache.
The most original presentation, however, was Biondi’s version of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Changes in articulations, pacing and dynamic ranges for the ensemble and Biondi’s fire-breathing interpretation left the crowd breathless.
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Categories: Life and Arts