FMS launches 49th Indianapolis Early Music Festival 

click to enlarge Recorder player Matthias Maute
  • Recorder player Matthias Maute

The Indy Early Music Festival, under the auspices of the Festival Music Society (FMS) of Indiana, welcomed the appearance of the always smiling, always energetic Matthias Maute, artistic director of Ensemble Caprice. He brought along two of its six players, Baroque guitarist David Jacques and Baroque cellist Susie Napper, for music spanning the 17th and early 18th centuries.

In the program's first half, we heard pieces by the redoubtable Giovanni Pandolfi Mealli (c1630 - c1670), Jacob van Eyck (1590-1657), Johann H. Schmelzer (c1620 - 1680), Francesco Corbetta (c1615 - 1681), Rémy Medard (17th c.) and the well known Arcangelo Corelli (1653 - 1713). Of these the Corelli Sonata Op. V, No. 4 in F was the most interesting.

Following the break, Maute gave us the most unusual Chaconne in G Minor by Tomaso Antonio Vitali (1663 - 1745). Its thematic descent of four notes from the tonic to the dominant was decorated and repeated through 22 of the 24 possible key signatures (counting both major and minor). Modulation ran rampant through the piece. Who knew anyone from that era could modulate so often as to inculcate modernist transitions? The chaconne appeared to end in A minor, but I couldn't keep track of the modulations.

Georg Phillip Telemann's Trio Sonata in D Minor (1681 - 1767) followed in a more familiar style, having been a Bach contemporary. The final set featured a mix of anonymous pieces with two more of Telemann's and a Musette in D, ostensibly by Bach, but taken from his Anna Magdalena book of short pieces which some say were written by a composer named Christian Petzold. Either way, I played it (badly) as a young piano student.

The program ended with Vivaldi's Sonata in F for Flute and Basso continuo, with Maute substituting a small, high-pitched recorder. Yet earlier he had played a transverse Baroque flute in a Telemann polonaise. Both were beautifully rendered.

In fact, the Maute - Jacques - Napper partnership sailed through this difficult repertoire with the ease that great talent and disciplined rehearsal begets. Maute used a bevy of recorders of varying sizes and pitch ranges, dominating each with broad refrains and rapid fingerwork, his two partners in lock-step with him. Jacques played an anonymous guitar solo titled Hungaricus 53, from 1730, displaying fleet strumming throughout. This Sunday, Maute returns with his entire Ensemble Caprice to present "Salsa Baroque: Music of Latin America and Spain." June 21; Indiana History Center

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