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Pallade Musica plays at the IHC 

***1/2
click to enlarge Pallade Musica players
  • Pallade Musica players

"Terrene e Vago," the title of Friday's IEM program, literally translates from Italian to the English "Earthly and Vague." This was meant to be a description of the contrasting Baroque music styles presented by Montreal's Pallade Musica, the winning foursome at Early Music America’s 2012 Baroque Performance Competition held in New York. Cellist Elinor Frey spoke for the group, introducing each set of pieces, mostly by unknowns from the early to middle Baroque -- i.e. the 17th century.

Frey joined her partners, violinist Tanya LaPerrière, theorbo player Esteban La Rotta and harpsichordist Myliène Bélanger in producing instrumental music from the same era -- indeed from some of the same composers -- as we heard in the first two IEM concerts last weekend. Whether or not this may have been "overkill" for this unfamiliar, deliberately "artsy" style, I can't say for sure, but attendance at the IHC's Basile Theater was down from the previous two.

In any case, the performers put heart and soul into pieces by Dario Castello, Alessandro Piccinini, Adam Jarzebski, Johann Rosenmüller and others most of us have never heard of. The one exception was a harpsichord sonata by Domenico Scarlatti--for me the high point in the program, nicely played by Bélanger. But Scarlatti is one of the acknowledged Baroque "greats": Almost any one of his hundreds of solo sonatas reaches into the stratosphere of musical invention.

Though the principal styles presented may prove to be an acquired taste, our players have surely acquired it in spades. Each time Frey announced a new set of pieces, she proclaimed her "love" for one or more of them. This music is as familiar to this group as the Beethoven "Eroica" is to later "common practice" players and music lovers.

Each instrument was highlighted throughout the program, with a special nod going to LaPerrière and Frey for their work in the Sonata for Violin and Violone by Giovanni Paolo Cima. But from beginning to end Pallade Musica fully justified their 2012 competition win. June 27; Indiana History Center

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