Early Music America reviews Boston Early Music Festival

I promised you more about BEMF, and some of what I want to
say will take place over several posts. But I got the Fall Early
Music America, and thought I’d comment on their reviews.

The fringe concerts are numerous, diverse, and crammed into a
small number of time slots when there aren’t official events, so
it isn’t that surprising that the EMA reviewers didn’t review any
of the ones I went to. But they at least mentioned all of the
“main stage” events.

I like the idea of 11 PM concerts, but in practice,
unless they’re very lively indeed, I often find myself falling
asleep, especially later in the week, which is strenuous for me.
So although I expected them to be good concerts, I didn’t go to
the Wednesday night lute concert (EMA: soothed an audience
of insomniacs
) or the Thursday night
Atalanta concert. I did as usual enjoy the Saturday
night Tragicommedia concert of German drinking
songs. But I would have been just as well off skipping the gaelic
song and harp music concert on Friday.

I agree that the Newberry Consort multimedia presentation of
the Cantigas de Santa Maria was one of the
highlights of the festival, and I’ll probably give you some more
about that later.

EMA calls Emma Kirkby’s Dowland performance “transcendant”, and
I agree with that. I was worried about going to a concert of lute
songs in a space as big as Jordan Hall, but it wasn’t a problem at
all, even though my friends and I decided to stay in the nosebleed
seats where my lingering cough wouldn’t disturb as many people.
(There’s also more leg room there — I don’t know why those seats
aren’t sold to the long-legged at a premium.)

EMA says “The Hilliard Ensemble brought an
admirable transparency and lucidity to a remarkably diverse
repertoire.” I liked the lucidity, but I would have prefered a
real program to the “greatest hits” approach they took. I liked
all the sixteenth century music better than
all the other stuff, so I’d rather they’d just played
that.

The Royal Wind Music concert did, as EMA reports,
blow the audience away, but I share the reservations of David
Schulenberg in the Boston Musical Intelligencer
that they made
a verbatim copy of what was on their CD in a repertoire that was
intended to be improvised.

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