The concert was attended by 35 audience members, mostly locals, no doubt attracted by the big sandwich boards that the organizers had placed along the roads in the town. (How nice to see these effective communication devices in our age dominated by electronic communication.) Some people had made the trip from the big cities Vancouver and Victoria. Most of the pieces in the program were six-part works by renaissance composers. Some highlights were as follows.
The show started with the magnificent six-part 'Wedding Pavan' by M. D. Philidore, written for the marriage of Louis 13th of France to Ann of Austria (the union that eventually produced a son, the “Sun King”). There is a painting of this wedding (I think in the Louvre, but easily Googled) with musicians shown at the side, no doubt playing this piece. The piece works really well on recorders, producing a big full sound with a great deal of internal complexity between the equal parts that makes it interesting for the listener.
Alexander Agricola’s mournful six-part piece 'Fortuna Desperata 'also works well on recorders, with an F bass and C bass below. (So many F'ortuna Desperatas' were written in that age; they clearly felt their lives were dominated by fate, fortune and Lady Luck.) Of course, A. Ferrabosco’s 'Di Sei Bassi' (scored for 5 F-basses and 1 C-bass) seemed like a must, and indeed its low harmonies spiralled wonderfully around the little church. Alonso Lobo’s 'Versa est in Luctum' was composed for the funeral of Philip 2nd of Spain. It is indeed a sad yet haunting piece, with it three bass lines and tenors on top.
William Byrd’s 'Fantasia à 6 #1' was composed in his youth and is simpler than the subsequent 6-part fantasias. Yet it has great energy and tunefulness and is a delight to play. We played Christopher Tye’s 'In Nomine XVIII' at 8-foot pitch; another highly recommended piece for perfomance.
The program contained a smattering of 5 and 4 part pieces. Of these the biggest success was a 5-part suite by Salamone Rossi: 'Rorate Caeli Desuper', and two Gagliardas 'l’Andreasina' and 'la Massara'. We have “discovered” Rossi through a workshop on him led by Laura Kuhlman at the 2013 Columbia Gorge Early Music Retreat. This Mantuan composer could write wonderfully haunting tunes, and all the above pieces can easily become “ear worms”. A big hit that ended the first half was three dances from Mainerio’s SATB suite, in which on the repeats the soprano and tenor lines were doubled by crumhorns.
Overall, the low-pitch pieces seemed to be most popular and successful. In this of course we have been inspired by the recordings by the Flanders Recorder Quartet. We don’t have a contrabass, but this seems a desirable next step. (Does anybody have a spare one lying around?!)