Pacific Baroque Orchestra - A review
Less tension in their strings
A review by Rosemary Phillips
Originally published in the Grand Forks Gazette, October 2001
It was like being wrapped in a warm soft blanket of comfort as
the Pacific Baroque Orchestra took the audience (in the Grand Forks Secondary School Auditorium) back three hundreds
years to the pure, smooth, rich sounds of period instruments.
|Pacific Baroque Orchestra
"We have much less tension in the strings," explained
artistic director and solo violinist Marc Destrubé as he
informed the audience of the type of music being played and its
instruments. "We use plain gut strings so they don't stay in
tune as well. That's why you hear us tuning up a lot. And the bows
The program for the evening represented a grand tour of music written
across Europe between 1680 and 1780, beginning with Antonio Vivaldi's
“Concerto for strings in G Major”. Such a difference
it was, to hear the music as it would have been played at that time
in comparison to the harder and louder sounds of today's instruments.
The violins and violas sang and trilled, the harpsichord was light
and gentle, the cello and violone (double bass) glided like smooth
melting chocolate (comfort food), each instrument complementing
the other, with precision and grace.
Soprano Phoebe MacRae joined the orchestra for Jean-Philippe Rameau's
“Aria, Une Plante”. Her pure clear voice lifted and
soared perfectly and carried the richness and delicacy of the music
but the piece was over too soon.
A surprise in the program was the inclusion of a work composed by
Jocelyn Morlock specifically for the PBO and this tour. Titled “Golden”,
the piece began with percussive taps on the violone and cello, followed
by gentle movement of a wooden wind chime and bells as MacRae and
members of the violin section of the orchestra whispered, "Ssswim
in this water." Soon came the sounds of whispering strings
like rippling water and light, and angelic magic as MacRaes voice
lifted and soared, harmonizing with Destrubé's gentle violin.
While the strings continued their melody MacRae ran her fingers
around the rims of two wine glasses creating a hanging tone which
resonated above the strings. It was pure magic.
After intermission Destrubé performed Haydn’s “Violin
Concerto in A Major”. Such softness, feeling and precision
comes only from one who has mastered his instrument and loves what
MacRae returned to the stage for Handel's “Gloria”.
Here she shone, portraying sincerely with her voice the mood of
It was not enough. The audience called for more and was given an
encore by the PBO in which MacRae showed the dexterity of her voice,
the trills, the stoccato, and spine-tingling synchronicity with
Destrubé's violin. It was like watching a family working
and playing together, and enjoying it. And that enjoyment was projected
from the members of the PBO to the audience.
For more information about the orchestra, members, tours, visit the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Early Music Vancouver web site.
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