Free Expression from a Different Age
The instruments listed in the heading of this review identifu the concert as of baroque music. The programme, colourfully described as “stylus phantasticus”, was of a particular style of early baroque music that was ‘extremely free and uninhibited”.
Latitude 37 used this interpretation not only for the early baroque music that made up the first half, but for the mature baroque items of the second half.
The players, especially harpsichordist Donald Nicolson, used the considerable musical skills to produce music that was often freely improvised and skilfully embellished. The whole programme was from the vast German repertoire of the time, with familiar names such as Buxtehude, Pachelbel and J.S. Bach, and others such as Erlebach and Gottfried Finger, being lesser-known.
Latitude 37 brought out the huge expressive variety of the 17th century, demonstrating that colourful musical personalities are part of the culture of every age.
The eccentric Heinrich Biber, for example, required the violinist to change the tuning of one of the strings while the harpsichordist improvised around the process. Interesting, though the musical point of it eluded me. The performers took liberties, itself true to the spirit of the baroque, by rearranging some of the items, even if not always to my liking.
I couldn’t help reflecting that musicians such as the three who make up Latitude 37 keep alive a culture that has contributed to our own. Through their musical skill and thoroughness they have brought the culture and its personalities into our awareness of the present.
This was an excellent concert, and a contribution that gives the Christchurch Festival a cultural balance.
Latitude 37 touring for Chamber Music New Zealand
Middleton Grange Performing Arts Centre
18 August 2011
Reviewed by David Sell.