Review: EMF-Baltimore Consort 

click to enlarge Members of the Baltimore Consort
  • Members of the Baltimore Consort

4 stars

Festival Music Society; Indiana History Center; July 8

Late in the 16th century, England, under its great Tudor queen, Elizabeth I, produced a flowering in the arts, one in which Shakespeare appeared and which clearly included music—not then considered a "true" art form. Such period composers as John Dowland and Thomas Morley were represented, along with lesser knowns, in the third FMS sponsored Indianapolis Early Music Festival on Friday. The large-scale musical profundity of later centuries was herein replaced by short musical delights, mostly played, a few sung.

The five-player Baltimore Consort, established in 1980, returned to their musical roots with this program and were joined by Hoosier soprano Danielle Svonavec and lutenist/bandora player William Simms. Mark Cudek (SOO-dek), a cittern player and founding Consort member, also happens to be our festival's artistic director and proved himself at home in both worlds.

We heard 26 selections,mostly featured in sets of three. Mindy Rosenfeld-Hedges provided outstanding treble flute work in several pieces, most notably in the concluding number, "Howell's Delight" wherein she switched to recorder and back to flute without losing a beat.

The entire program ranged from "The Earl of Essex Gaillard" by Dowland (1563-1626) for solo lute, played by Ronn McFarlane, to "Allison's Knell" (1599) by Richard Allison, with all six instrumentalists. Svonavec provided stylish vocalism in her five songs, her projection just a bit tentative. The remaining two players: treble violist Mary Anne Ballard and recorder player/bass violist Larry Lipkis sustained the group with yeoman's work throughout.

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