"Early Music Festival
Indiana History Center
June 23 and 25
Among the many pursuits of America’s greatest statesman and our third president was music. Thomas Jefferson had amassed a large collection of sheet music and scores for his library, from both “learned” and traditional sources. So large a collection that Kim Pineda of Seattle’s Baroque Northwest players had a formidable task in choosing a program representative of that library. The Festival Music Society of Indiana began its Early Music Festival last Friday with Baroque Northwest invading Jefferson’s library and coming up with an astonishingly varied two-hour program of “Revolutionary” music — one encompassing the late Baroque, early Classical and concurrent folk styles.
Baroque Northwest’s players should not be confused with the Seattle Baroque group, which appeared under FMS auspices last year and featured stellar harpsichordist Byron Schenkman. Baroque Northwest came with five players: flutist and recorder player Pineda, viola da gambist and singer Ronnee Fullerton, guitarist and lutenist Elizabeth Brown, Baroque guitarist and theorbo (a very long, doublepegged lute) player August Denhard and special guest violinist Jack Ashworth. Interestingly, Ashworth rested the base of his instrument against his left arm rather than pinching it between his left shoulder and chin.
Jumping between the learned and the traditional, the program opened with flutist Pineda playing C.P.E. Bach’s slow movement from his Sonata in A Minor, H. 652. Later, he played the Allegro from that piece. In between, we heard pieces by Karl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787), Henry Purcell (1659-1695) and Carlo Tessarini (c1790-1766). And into the middle of those, Baroque Northwest inserted nine folk pieces from Jefferson’s collection entitled Evening Amusement. All the above-mentioned instruments appeared, got played and disappeared as the selections’ varying needs were met.
The second half opened with a Serenade for flute and guitar by Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841). This piece not only appeared later in Jefferson’s life (he died on July 4, 1826, the same day as our second president John Adams), but is richly late-Classical in style — the most enjoyable piece of the evening. We also heard a very attractive sonata by Archangelo Corelli (1653-1713), which Pineda claimed was Jefferson’s “favorite composer.”
Sunday evening saw the return of the Seattle group, minus Ashworth, the left-armed fiddler. Baroque Northwest’s second program (its four players now decked in formal attire) dealt with “culture clash”: music from France, Italy, Spain and Poland. This was mostly late-Renaissance to late-Baroque fare, with an inclusion of a 2004-composed piece for this group by Matthias Maute (b. 1963). Entitled Rouge and cast in a clear A Minor, it was not only accessible but was perhaps the most enjoyable piece of the evening, proving that older is not always better. Except for Giuseppe Tartini, the other composers were too obscure to name.
Despite Pineda’s whimsical humor in his program writings and audience talks, the group as a whole seemed dour-faced while playing, and lacked the ensemble pizzazz of other FMS sponsored early-music groups.