Review: Early Music Festival Program No. 5

Cançonièr performed a program called The Black Dragon.

3 stars

Indiana History Center; July 23. If you: can't stand garlic

— can't see yourself in a mirror — sleep during the day on your

native soil shunning sunlight at all costs — avoid wooden stakes and

crucifixes — stare lustfully at a woman's neck, then you're more famous

than one of history's worst tyrants, even though you're a fictional entity

named after him. Though Vlad "the impaler" Dracula ruled the southern part of

Rumania for only six years in the mid-15th century, he was made famous

throughout Europe for his unbelievable cruelty — largely through the work

of contemporary German poet Michel Beheim. Its English-translated title is

"Story of a Bloodthirsty Madman Called Dracula of Wallachia." The final weekend

of the Early Music Festival began with Tim Rayborn reading this poem,

bookending the program with period-apropos "lounge" music in background.

Rayborn and three women comprise the San Francisco based Cançonièr — their

program titled The Black Dragon. In between the start and end of Beheim's poem,

we heard a sampling of 15th-and-earlier-century music from eastern Europe. All

four Cançonièrs were skilled on replicas of the instruments of those times and

places: the vielle (the violin's forerunner), the citole (a medieval guitar),

the 'ud (a Turkish lute), the symphonie (a miniature, hand-held harpsichord,

its strings finger-plucked) and various recorders, a "bell-tree" and the

soprano voice of Phoebe Jevtovic. The music varied from a 12th-century lament

to 15th-century songs and dances. One Bulgarian piece used quarter tones.

Despite the morbid theme, this unusual group gave the program lots of

audience-appreciating pizzazz. — Tom Aldridge


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