Review: Tempesta di Mare, Early Music Fest 

click to enlarge Richard Stone, Gwyn Roberts, Karina Fox, Emlyn Ngai, Eve Miller and Clara Rottsolk
  • Richard Stone, Gwyn Roberts, Karina Fox, Emlyn Ngai, Eve Miller and Clara Rottsolk

4 stars

Festival Music Society, Indiana History Center; June 26

The second of the six FMS-sponsored summer Early Music Festival programs featured only two composers: George Frideric Handel and Alessandro Scarlatti - more than sufficient to give us a sustained evening of high-quality Baroque music, both played and sung. Especially when presented by a Philadelphia group called Tempesta di Mare ("Storm at Sea," named from a Vivaldi concerto), which impressed more than the Rebel group of two days earlier with their precision and balance.

Archlutist Richard Stone and recorder player Gwyn Roberts directed the ensemble's remainder: violinists Karina Fox and Emlyn Ngai, cellist Eve Miller and Baroque soprano Clara Rottsolk. From Scarlatti (whose son, Domenico Scarlatti, became yet more famous as a harpsichord-sonata composer forming a unique bridge between the Baroque and Classical eras), we heard two chamber cantatas, perhaps the two evening highlights: "Bella, s'io t'amo il sai," with Rottsolk joined by Stone, Roberts and Miller, plus "Bella dama di nome Santa," featuring all six performers.

Rottsolk showed beautiful control with a pitch-perfect "white" voice occasionally embellished with vibrato at a phrase ending. It appeared that Stone used an archlute, long-necked but with a smaller body than the theorbo, more often seen in these series. Handel was represented by a concerto, a trio sonata and a chamber cantata of his own. Roberts offered dazzling recorder work, especially on her small, high-pitched instrument. On second thought, the entire evening presented nothing but highlights.

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