CD REVIEW — Nearly half of this disc is made up of Handel’s settings of the words “Amen” and/or “Hallelujah,” likely intended for performance in private homes and deliberately light on lyrical content. Yet Handel makes these spiritual declarations by turns reflective (HWV 271), resigned (HWV 274), joyous but refined (HWV 276), virtuosic (HWV 277), and, of course, triumphant (HWV 275). The album also includes three vocal works from the Harmonia Sacra, a collection of sacred solo songs published in various editions during the late 17th century and also aimed at home use: William Croft’s bright, heavily ornamented hymn to music, an anonymous composer’s graphic vision of Christ’s crucifixion, and John Church’s emotionally ranging “A Divine Hymn,” which soprano Robert Crowe calls “a truly under-appreciated masterpiece.”
This music was intended for “amateur” musicians, meaning “non-professional” rather than “unskilled, dilettante” and certainly not “student,” according to Crowe. These works are technically involved and expressive, and the musicians approach them with obvious knowledge and affection. Crowe explained over email that “the limited word choice [in the Amen and Hallelujah arias] and those two words both containing relatively broad, powerful meanings meant that the affect had to be gleaned not from text but from the music written to undergird it.” Crowe’s musical instincts are spot-on throughout as he explores each work’s unique character. He tosses off some impressive sudden register shifts, including an unexpected dip into chest voice following chiming, upper-register melismas at the end of Croft’s “A Hymn On Divine Music.” Even during the most ornate line of the three Harmonia Sacra pieces, Crowe demonstrates fine diction and consistency of tone.
The American-Canadian ensemble Il Furioso partners Crowe with chamber organ and one or two theorbos on each track. The liner notes explain the historical precedent for the double theorbos, but the warm, undulating wash underneath and around Crowe justifies itself on purely sonic terms. The first, unornamented performance of HWV 270 (as opposed to the ornamented version closing the disc) is a great example of the simple but powerful effect of one theorbo doubling the organ’s bass line while another plucks the harmonies. HWV 269 is a superb example of the whole ensemble — singer and instrumentalists — breathing together and feeling the pulse as one. Theorbo sonatas by the obscure Ferraranese composer and theorbo virtuoso Giovanni Pittoni spotlight Il Furioso co-directors Victor Coehlo and David Dolata. Charming excerpts composed by Handel for mechanical musical clock showcase organist Juvenal Correa-Salas.
This reviewer had difficulty with the recording’s audio engineering, such as rumbling on Crowe’s highest notes and some muddiness in the instruments’ lower ranges (even after trying the disc on three sound systems). Those strictly technological issues aside, the origins of these works in private musicking, the spare accompaniment, and the musicians’ sensitive interplay make this a thoroughly intimate affair.
Andrew J. Sammut has written about European classical music as well as American classical music for All About Jazz, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, Early Music America, the IAJRC Journal and his own blog.
Soprano Adriana Ruiz, in collaboration with harpsichordist Benjamin Katz, next on the program, apparently for reason of time, cut down their set of songs by the 17th-century female composer Barbara Strozzi; the pace of the music made recognizing the cuts difficult.
Ruiz proved, however, that she has the natural and trained soprano voice to focus on Strozzi’s heart-gripping songs. And she joined, with impact, the chorus of musicians seeking to prove that Strozzi, though now increasingly recognized, is still not sufficiently regarded as a composer of importance. Strozzi’s songs about love endured, love longed for, love betrayed and love glorified are potently expressed in songs that echo the sentiments embedded in their ardent words. Soprano Ruiz proved herself an equally ardent disciple.
Cuban-born Adriana Ruiz started her studies of Piano at the age of seven. She completed her studies in Voice and Choral Conducting at the Cuban Conservatory of Music “Esteban Salas” and won the French Song Contest held in Havana, Cuba, in 2003, which gave her the opportunity to perform on several occasions in Paris.
Ruiz is currently furthering her vocal training at Florida International University, where she studies with Dr. Vindhya Khare and has performed with the Collegium Musicum, most notably in the lead role in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis. She has frequently performed with lutenist David Dolata at FIU and in the community on behalf of the Miami Bach Society. In addition to her performances of Renaissance and Baroque music to the accompaniment of the lute and harpsichord, Ruiz has performed Medieval music while accompanying herself on the Medieval harp.
Ruiz also studied with renowned early music soprano Julianne Baird and lutenist and Director of Tempesta di Mare, Richard Stone, at the Amherst Early Music Winter Workshop in Philadelphia, where she performed on the workshop concert.
Her interest in early music goes back to her childhood in Cuba when she discovered the madrigals of Palestrina, Janequin, and Vázquez at a very young age and fell completely in love with their melodies and harmonies. When she was 18, she started singing with the choir Orfeon Santiago in Cuba and learned that Renaissance and Baroque vocal music would be always her favorite musical styles to perform. “Now, I am delighted with the early Italian baroque music,” she says. “Composers like Merula, D’India and Strozzi interest me tremendously.”
2018 Showcase Program: “Di canto e lacrime”: four arias by the Italian composer Barbara Strozzi.
The 2018 Miami International GuitART Festival presents a lecture by Dr. David Dolata at the WPAC Instrumental Hall. Dr. Dolata will tour the audience through the stunning variety of clever notational methods Spanish, Italian, and French guitarists created to convey rasqueado and/or punteado textures in both accompaniments and solo music for Baroque guitar.
The festival takes place from February 19th through 25th with daily concerts, master classes, lectures, competitions, and Luthiers Expo.
2018 MIGF FESTIVAL PASS is available to attend all festival events at a single reduced price. More info at MIGF website: migf.fiu.edu/tickets
Time11:00am – 12:15pm
VenueHerbert & Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center
AddressModesto A. Maidique Campus, 10910 SW 17 St.
Miami, FL 33199GET DIRECTIONS
FIU School of Music soprano Adriana Ruiz has been named an Early Music America (EMA) Emerging Artist. According to EMA, Ms. Ruiz was among six artists chosen to “represent the best of emerging early music talent from a very large pool of applicants.” Ms. Ruiz was the only singer chosen. As a result of her award, Ms. Ruiz will perform in the Emerging Artist Showcase at the prestigious Bloomington Early Music Festival at Indiana University, which houses one of the top early music programs in the country. Performances will take place in Auer Hall at the Jacobs School of Music on Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26 and will be live-streamed by IU Music and subsequently broadcast by WFIU Public Radio. Click here to see the EMA announcement.
Ms. Ruiz recently studied with renowned early music soprano Julianne Baird and lutenist and Director of Tempesta di Mare Richard Stone at the Amherst Early Music Winter Workshop in Philadelphia where she also performed on theworkshop concert.
At FIU Ms. Ruiz studies with Dr. Vindhya Khare and has performed with the Collegium Musicum, most notably in the lead role in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis. She has frequently performed with lutenist David Dolata at FIU and in the community on behalf of the Miami Bach Society. In addition to her performances of Renaissance and Baroque music to the accompaniment of the lute and harpsichord, Ms. Ruiz has performed Medieval music while accompanying herself on the Medieval harp.
Audio tracks of some of Ms. Ruiz’ Collegium Musicum performances can be found here. The five tracks at the top of the list feature Ms. Ruiz.
Owing to curricular realignments and my spring 2018 sabbatical, Collegium Musicum will be on hiatus for 2017–2018. Though we will not be offering the course on an official basis, there are still many opportunities for you to participate in early music activities at FIU informally. For instance, the viol consort will continue to meet on its own, and our recorder players are continuing to meet as well. If you are interested in participating in either of these activities, please let me know so that I can put you into contact with these groups.
Collegium members and alumni will also be participating in concerts that include early repertoire both at FIU and in the community. In the coming days, these events will be added to our temporarily hidden calendar, but as a preview, here are a few dates for you to lock in:
Friday, October 28 at FIU: Soli Deo Gloria: An evening of music exploring the impact of the Reformation on choral singing around the world. All early choral music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
Friday, November 17 at FIU: Grand Harmonie. Boston-based ensemble that performs classical period music on early instruments.
Tuesday, November 28 at Palm Beach Atlantic University: Schütz’s Christmas Oratorio with FIU faculty and collegium alumni joining our friends at PBA.
Finally, I encourage you to subscribe to this blog so that you are automatically notified whenever there’s news.