Many music lovers know that just about the time Symphony on the Prairie launches its summer season in Noblesville, the Festival Music Society of Indiana keeps downtown Indy active in featuring music from the past. On Friday the FMS began its 47th straight season of early music with an all-string program featuring Chatham Baroque--and in turn featuring composer Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (c. 1580-1651), a non-household name if ever there was one. (Though his name is more commonly spelled Kapsberger, both spellings are allowed.)
Credit violinist Andrew Fouts with providing the most pleasing, most nearly perfect Baroque violin playing I can recall ever hearing. Scarcely less top-notch were Patricia Halverson playing mostly the violone (a floor-standing instrument almost as large as the modern double bass) and occasionally a viola da gamba (a cello sized instrument supported between her legs), and Scott Pauley, who featured a theorbo (a very long-necked lute) but occasionally down-shifted to a Baroque guitar. These three performers comprise the Chatham Baroque.
Assisting them in this concert from the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra were violinist Allison Edberg, Baroque violist Martie Perry and David Walker, who, like Scott Pauley, played both an archlute (which looks all but identical to a theorbo) and a guitar. Other composers represented were Diego Ortiz (c. 1510-c. 1570), Dario Castello (c. 1590-c. 1658), the slightly better known Girolamo Frescobaldi (1585-1645) and the most famous of all: Archangelo Corelli from almost a century later (1653-1713).
Our performers provided 20 pieces in 9 sets. Perhaps because it was the most "modern"-- or possibly because he was a better composer -- I preferred Corelli's Trio Sonata in A Minor, Op. 4 No. 5 to the others. But regardless of the music's worthiness, our performers gave us peerless ensemble work: Clearly they know this style like the backs of their hands. Other musical highlights were Frescobaldi's "Canzon Quinta," featuring a violone, theorbo and guitar and the program finale: "Sonata Decima Quinta sinfonietta decimasettina," a mouthful with all six performing, and the only number featuring fugal writing. A good start for the five early music concerts to follow, and kudos to Indianapolis Early Music artistic director Mark Cudek (Soodek).June 21; Indiana History Center