Indianapolis Early Music's artistic director Mark Cudek's unstinting praise of soprano Julianne Baird several times throughout Sunday's concert was well deserved. She managed to deliver the best Baroque-period singing I've ever witnessed in our local environs. Scattered throughout a program presented by members of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, Baird added her vocal luster to three operatic arias and a motet, all by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741).
Baird's vocal control over nuances of pitch change, white to rapid vibrato, trilling, dynamic shading and rapid passage work were nothing less than astonishing. In many respects Baird demonstrated that the Baroque period of music (c. 1600-1750) placed greater demands on the human voice than any other era that survives to the present. Her attributes were especially displayed in Vivaldi's "Vedrò con mio diletto" from his opera Giustino and the composer's motet In furore iustissimae Irae, which concluded the program and featured all eight instrumentalists.
Led by harpsichordist Thomas Gerber, the Indy Baroque group is comprised of string players using replicas of period instruments, including the violone and archlute heard on Friday's opening program. In addition, Gerber played a solo keyboard work, the "Capriccio sopra il Cucho" by Frescobaldi, a difficult, intricate, highly polyphonic piece rendered very well.
Three of the performers appeared as guests on Friday augmenting the three-player Chatham Baroque. In addition, Chatham Baroque's violinist Andrew Fouts--an IU graduate with a Hoosier background--joined the Sunday group. Trading players among early music performing groups for specific gatherings is quite common.
The third program in this early music series promises to be "different." Drawing from music of the Brits, it's entitled: "Mr. Jones and the Engines of Destruction--the Grumbling Hive or how Vice is a Virtue and Vice Versa." That will occur on June 28. June 23; Indiana History Center