The New York Continuo Collective

Continuing to bring you my reporting from the 2013 Boston Early Music Festival. The
American Recorder editor cut this one
even worse than most of what I sent her, because it wasn’t really
a recorder concert at all.

The New York Continuo Collective

L’amour et La Folie

Love and Madness in the Air de Cour

Thursday, June 13, 2013, Noon

Gordon Chapel, Old South Church

645 Boylston ST., Boston

The New York Continuo Collective is mostly a bunch of plucked string
players accompanying singers. There’s one bass viol (Virginia
Kaycoff), and they get instrumental solos (aside from lutes playing the
tunes) by having a couple of people play recorders (Grant Herreid and Paul
Shipper).

Every “semester” they study a different repertory of 17th century
song, and this Spring it was the French Air de Cour. The program was
based around a collection of songs with lute tablature published in
1614 by Gabriel Bataille, which seem to be from a ballet depicting a
quarrel between Amour and La Folie.

The program was semi-staged and variously costumed — some characters
only wearing a hat to indicate their character, but Venus (Kirsten
Kane) wearing a golden gown that was definitely not street wear. La
Folie (Brittany Fowler) wore street wear, but mixed patterns and
stripes in a charmingly disturbing way.

The plot involved Amour attempting to prove that he enhances human
happiness, in the face of La Folie’s claim that love only leads to
misery. So there are lots of songs sung by characters labeled
“quarreling lovers”, “rude lover”, or “angry lover”. So with the
dance interludes and the various moods of the lovers, it was a very
diverse program. The ornamentation, both improvised and written out
by the director (Grant Herried) also added variety.

One of the problems of running an early music group in contemporary
American musical culture is that the guitar and lute players often
become very skilled on their instruments without getting the ensemble
experience that wind and bowed string instrument players have
routinely. The Continuo Collective is a brilliant response to this
problem, while also producing a very enjoyable show.

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