Vivaldi - Music from his Chambers.    

2014 Adelaide Fringe Festival, March 14, 2014

"What a treat for the ears! Period performance group Ensemble Galante presented a classic program of Vivaldi -  Music from his Chambers - at the delightful St Cyprian's Church in North Adelaide. The arrangements featured in this concert were of some of Vivaldi's lesser known compositions - here wasn't a  Season amongst them!

Group founder and flute and recorder player, Tim Nott, was better known to me as a member of world music  group Akoustic Odyssey, but in this setting he ably demonstrated just how talented and versatile he is. Joining  Tim were an outstanding group of musicians -Bruce Stewart on baroque oboe, Jackie Hansen on baroque  bassoon, Ben Dollman on baroque violin, Emily Dollman, also on baroque violin, Hilary Kleinig on baroque cello,  Samantha Cohen on lute, theorbo and guitar and Glenys March on harspsichord, all of whom have very  impressive pedigrees in the classical music world.

Together the members of Ensemble Galante presented 6 short pieces on their exquisite period instruments, with each member given the opportunity to shine in a well-chosen programme. The performance was  accompanied by well written notes, which gave an insight into the history of the pieces and their construction.  Written for larger groups, the 'chamber concerto', as it is known today, was developed to allow soloists to  feature, alternating with a refrain from the other instruments of the group. This was demonstrated particularly  well on the Concerto in D Major for Recorder, Oboe, Violin, Bassoon and Basso Continuo, with a sparkling  performance from Ben Dollman taking the prominent place.  An unusual offering was the Lute Concerto in D Major, a rare piece as it is one of only 4 to feature the lute as a  solo instrument. Lutenist Sam Cohen was visiting from Melbourne but she fitted in seamlessly and gave a  superb performance.

The audience was knowledgeable and appreciative - you could have heard a pin drop in the tiny church and  even the unyielding wooden pews didn't elicit too much wriggling!  St Cyprian's is a beautiful venue, with the excellent acoustics most older churches seem to have and the  intimate setting really lends itself to small performances like this."

Julie Kavanagh, Radio Adelaide

"I f the scoring allowed it, Ensemble Galante's revelations of the charms of Vivaldi would get eight stars.   One for the shining acoustic of St Cyprian's, packed solid with devotees of fine baroque music splendidly played on period instruments.

One for Tim Nott's creepy hooting baroque flute. Ghoulies and ghosties and foul smelling beasties haunted La Notte, Concerto for Flute, two Violins, Bassoon and Basso Continuo.  One for Ben Dollman, leader of rare authority and sensitivity, sharing points with Emily Dollman in the endlessly inventive variations La Folia.

A really bright one for Hilary Kleinig in her metier, born for the niceties of baroque cello in Sonata no 5 in E minor for Cello and Basso Continuo and a swag of support roles to Glenys March's harpsichord (one for her too). One each for Bruce Stewart's lovely reedy oboe, Samantha Cohen's lilting lute and theorbo,and the burbling bassoon of Jackie Hansen.

The printed program of this comparatively modest, largely home-grown Fringe event put to shame some of the more prominent Festival concerts - loads of information about the music, no trivial blather about the players.

Give them a constellation."

5 Stars Elizabeth Silsbury, Adelaide Music Critic

"Many of the pieces presented in this concert may be familiar to the fan of Vivaldi, but rare and special are occasions when one gets to enjoy these treats live, let alone on Baroque instruments. While the lute may be precursor to guitar (which is often used), the tones are quite different and the combination of this, and the other instruments with the Basso Continuo, provides quite a different listening pleasure.  

The thought presented - that [this] chamber music has similarities with jazz in providing multi-instrumentalists opportunity to show their skills and dexterity provided fresh insight into the writing behind the music, and how it fit into the culture of the day. So step into the baroque with a fresh idea, with new and old tones and experience how it originally sounded. I want to get my hands on a theorbo - how cool!"

Rating: 4.5.       Clayton Werner, Rip It Up

Gloria - Music of JS Bach

Christ Church, November 17 2013

Baroque Flautists Flaunt It

"The lovely tones of Brendan O'Donnell's voice flute and Tim Nott's baroque flute were ably supported and complimented by cello and harpsichord continuo by Hilary Kleinig and Glenys March in J.S. Bach's Trio Sonata in G major BWV 1039, characteristic of the 18th century works labeled 'stile galante'.

Elegant, graceful, yes. Also strong, disciplined, even heroic.  Superb technicians, O'Donnell and Nott made complex passage work sound easy in the fast movements .  No vibrato, no imposed dynamics, and canny perception of what Bach could do with a simple semitone.  Vocal quartet Syntony opened and closed the program.  Countertenor Mathew Rutty gave their texture a baroque flavour.

For Bach's Mass in A major BWV 234, Katerina Stevens and Emily Dollman (baroque violins) and Anna Webb (baroque viola) joined the flutes and continuo for a colourful ensemble.  Quite galante, in fact."

Elizabeth Silsbury, the Advertiser

Classical Era Treat

Elder Hall, August 4, 2013

"This was Elder Hall in intimate mode and the members of Ensemble Galante all concentrating on their very best 18th century performance techniques.

Mozart's early D Major Quartet  for flute and strings with a jolly little Rondeau rounding off its concise structure and Boccherini's more dramatic String Quartet in F Minor also allowed us to view everything through 18th century candlelight.

But it was Haydn's Symphony that caught our attention, the reduction in instruments adding to its already miniaturised palatte of sound. Ensemble Galante and their peers around the the globe are showing audiences the genuine ear-tickling delights that classical-era music can offer."   

Rodney Smith, The Advertiser 

Flaming Rose

St Cyprian's Church, November 4, 2012

Adelaide's newest baroque ensemble is claiming title rights to one of music's most elegant fashions. Their Flaming Rose concert, played on period instruments, was ample justification, especially in Telemann's ' Paris' Quartet in E minor TWV 43e 4, nicknamed for dance movements in the Stile galante model of the early 18th century. The clean, clear lines, uncluttered by vibrato, of Tim Nott's sweetly tooting flute, Emily Dollman's violin and the cello of Hilary Kleinig, all underpinned at the harpsichord by Glenys March, were the essence of refinement. Likewise, the graceful interplay between flute and violin in CPE Bach's Trio Sonata Wq149.

Tessa Miller sang of the beauties of nature as worded by Brock's Earthly Delight in God and set to music by Handel, her lovely voice blossoming in accord with a profusion of glorious roses on the wall outside.

In tone and technique she was matched by violin or flute obbligatos. All came together in her final item, Flammende Rose with both players, her tasteful ornamentation adding more floral and aural pleasure. Special mention for Kleinig - above and beyond the normal requirements of basso continuo cello, at several significant points she showed just how stylishly she can play .

Elizabeth Silsbury, Adelaide Music Critic

My Heart Palpitates - 18th Century Italian Masterworks

St Cyprian's Anglican Church, March 11, 2012

"In the gorgeous St Cyprian's church, Ensemble Galante launched into the performance beginning with Antonio Caldara's   Vicino a un Rivoletto  with countertenor Matthew Rutty not only palpitating hearts but shivering spines as well! 

Imagining butterflies in the Italian countryside, we were transported by Tim Nott's performance on the flute for Pietro Locatelli's   Sonata In G Major For Flute And Basso Continuo Op 2

Spirited bassoon playing by Jackie Hansen, in particular in the  Allegro movement of Vivaldi's   Trio Sonata in A Minor, looked particularly taxing but Ms Hansen handled it with aplomb. 

But the piece de resistance was saved for the finale in George Frideric Handel's   Mi palpita il cor HWV 132c:   My Heart Palpitates, But I Know Not Why....The why is easy to explain, it was an outstanding performance by Ensemble Galante in exquisite surroundings, for St Cyprian's must be one of the most beautiful churches in Adelaide. Bravo! Bravo!

Final Word: Grande!"

Carl Cranstone, Rip It Up, March 12, 2012

Vivaldi out of the shadows

"POOR Antonio Vivaldi. He wrote an enormous amount of music, but most of what he wrote is little known and everything lives in the shadow of his greatest hit,  The Four Seasons.  Did Vivaldi write too much? He certainly wrote more than the world today has time to know.

Ensemble Galante made it their mission to introduce us to lesser-known Vivaldi in a delightful hour-long concert that largely let the music speak for itself.

The most unusual work was a concerto for transverse flute bearing the title  La Notte (The Night).  It is a bold work in both form and content, testifying to Vivaldi's  fertile imagination and daring. Tim Nott, playing an 18th-century wooden flute with exquisite tone, was an outstanding soloist, conquering the work's technical demands with ease and vividly depicting its varied and sometimes eerie moods.

Samantha Mack sang two of Vivaldi's sacred works, beginning with the motet  Nulla in mundo pax  best known from the soundtrack to the movie  Shine.  It is certainly a lovely melody, to which Mack brought a warmth of tone that was most engaging.

The much longer setting of Psalm 112  Laudate pueri dominum, is a rich and fascinating work which gave Mack an opportunity to for some impressive vocal gymnastics. The beautiful aria which combined soprano and transverse flute was one of the highlights of the afternoon.

The core of Ensemble Galante for this concert was a string section plus continuo led by Ben Dollman. They are a Baroque ensemble of considerable accomplishment.  Their playing throughout the the concert, which included several string concertos, was notable for its vitality and cultivated sense of style."

Stephen Whittington, The Advertiser, August 15, 2011

Fatale Flame - Masterpieces Of The French Baroque
St Cyprian's Church, Sun Feb 20

Fatale Flame shows that the Fringe is not just about things new. The Baroque music presented here by Ensemble Galante is in fact all from the 18th century and features 'period instruments': harpsichord, baroque flute, viola da gamba (like a cello) and violin. Two of the three pieces also featured the operatic soprano vocals of Tessa Miller. The music tells of jilted lovers (some things never change) and the goings-on of gods. 

I'm not a frequent listener to music of the more classical bent, and what a different experience it is when you are not being assaulted by it or its performers. You have to find your own way into a world more ethereal, and in this instance, a world way back in time. I really enjoyed it - not simple music by any means, but enough soul, melody and musicianship to earn a steady and prolonged ovation from the full house.
Final Word: Edifying.

Michael Coghlan, Rip It Up: 20/2/2011

Fatale Flame - Masterpieces of the French Baroque

When we think of the Baroque, the composers we almost automatically think of are all German - Bach, Handel and Telemann. We've also rediscovered Italy via the prodigious Vivaldi and Corelli though the French remain decidedly undervalued. Ensemble Galante's programme of the French Baroque focuses on two such undervalued composers - the Cantatas of Monteclair and the chamber music of Francois Couperin. The musicians acquitted themselves very well indeed making very persuasive cases for these composers and their compositions.  However, when it came to the accompaniments in Monteclair there was a sense of predictability that somehow draws the music closer to folk idioms than chamber music per se. In my humble opinion the true master of the French baroque is Jean Philippe Rameau whose sophistication and sense of invention can be compared to Bach or Handel and of course it is this music which would influence the dance movements in Bach's instrumental music. 

All in all these were most persuasive performances given on original instruments (harpsichord, viola da gamba, baroque violin etc.) which add a delightful acerbic tang to the music as opposed to regular orchestral instruments where a smoother, more rounded and legato sound is sought. Tessa Miller as usual sang with poise and grace though her vocal production was perhaps just a little too large for such an intimate performing space. (By the way, the Ensemble will be performing music by Rameau amongst others at their next twilight concert to be held at Urrbrae House in late May.) 

Brett Allen-Bayes, DB Magazine 20/2/2011