Yesterday's concert, which took place as part of the Concentus Moraviae festival, entitled Scarlet Venice and featuring violinist, flute and piano player Anna Fusek along with lute and theorbo player Gianluca Geremia, was among the very first evenings indoors that classical music lovers were able to attend after the long, pandemic-forced pause. The chronologically compiled agenda presented those who paid a visit to the Church of All Saints, Moravský Krumlov, with works by early 16th century composers, the origins of the new style and compositions by late Baroque masters.
Tastar de corde I, the lute preludium by composer Joan Ambrosio Dalza, started the evening. The very first couple of bars revealed that the lutist Gianluca Geremia pays great attention to the building of musical phrases in terms of both dynamics and tempo. It is exactly solo compositions that enable artists to use more pronounced rubato and sharp dynamic contrasts to achieve the desired level of expressiveness. Sometimes, these efforts may be somewhat exaggerated, serving the artist to present their skills rather than for the delight of the listener or the pride of the composer. This was however definitely not the case with Gianluca Geremia, who approached the work in a very sensitive manner and with a large amount of taste with finely nuanced dynamic changes, gradual and gentle work with the tempo and refined tone, all of which were characteristic of not only the initial prelude, but also of the other compositions with similar expressions.
The name of Gioseffo Zarlino probably sounds more familiar to the representatives of historically informed interpretation and musical scientists rather than to the wider audience; unfortunately, although this native of Venice has made a significant contribution to defining the music of his time and beyond through his theoretical treatises, we do not encounter his compositions as often as they deserve in concert halls. Two bicinias – Ottado modo and Undecimo modo, in which Anna Fusek joined Gianluca Geremia with her fipple flute, testify to the fact that Zarlino is not only part of the community of musical theorists, but also of that of active composers. The neat tone of her instrument and her feel for the melody phrasing both went hand in hand with the striking dynamics to reveal the beauty of Zarlin’s work, whether obvious or hidden. The first third of the programme (16th century compositions) was played attacca, meaning that the compositions seamlessly followed each other to make up a distinctive, musically coherent form. As soon as Zarlino bicinium’s last tones ended, Gianluca Geremia followed with another preludium (Tastar de corde II) by Joan Ambrosio Dalza. The 16th century compositions section was closed by the equally mastered Io canterei d'amor by Cipriano de Rore from his First Book of Four-voice Madrigals.
The seventeenth century was a time of great change in the music world, as the opera was emerging, composers were inclining away from the polyphonic setting, and, influenced by Claudio Monteverdi, dissonance in music no longer needed to be prepared and elaborated according to contrapuntal rules. The first compositions of this period, which were heard on Saturday evening, were La Orlandina and Sinfonia del Terzo Tuono by composer Cipriano de Rore, a Flemish native, for violin and theorbo. It is not customary for professional players to play multiple musical instruments with the same intensity and the same artistic quality. However, Anna Fusek has shown that she can play not only a brass instrument, but also one of the string family with the same ease and precision of interpretation. (After all, her piano skills were seen by the listeners at the festival evening held on 2 June at the chateau in Velké Meziříčí. Fusek is a residential artist of this year's festival.) In addition, the part of the violin, precise in terms of intonation and rich in terms of expression, perfectly combined with the accompanying theorbo that followed the Renaissance lute. Gianluca Geremia seized his part with great invention, keeping the accompaniment novel and fresh.
Anna Fusek returned to her fipple flute in the very next composition, Sonata Prima, by Dario Castello. In this case, the tone colour and its variability were features most indicative of the artist’s master musical skills. Anna Fusek paid great attention to exposed, longer tones, which she gave a clear, dynamic, and, especially, colourful course. Hopefully, no one will feel hurt when I admit that when “instruments with a rich palette of colours of sound” had been discussed, the flute was not one of the first instruments that came to my mind. However, after this experience, I will probably reconsider many things. The 17th century section closed with the trio of compositions, Dolci miei sospiri, I bei legami and Damigella tutta bella, by Claudio Monteverdi, one of the most important figures of the music of the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries; in terms of performance, these were as successful as the previous ones.
The final third belonged to 18th century compositions, namely Tomas Albinoni’s Sonata No. 7 in D Major from the collection entitled Trattenimenti Armonici, and Sonata No. 12 by Benedetto Marcello. While Anna Fusek played Albinoni’s composition on her violin, Marcello’s Sonata was interpreted by flute. Here, too, the instrument dichotomy was preserved, enriching the overall perception of the programme. This was a grand finale in the true sense, as both works require a maximum of technical skills. Anna Fusek mastered both of the compositions with ease in terms of interpretation, although in the final part of Albinoni’s Sonata No. 7 in D Major there were slight rhythmic and intonation shortcomings, heard mostly when moving between levels. It would not be fair, however, to judge the artist very strictly – the wet, cold weather does not favour gut strings at all, while playing without a shoulder rest, albeit following the historical style, makes it difficult to switch between levels. The sonata by Benedetto Marcello – a musical theorist, among other things, who, like Zarlino, deserves more attention from audiences and artists – was completely faultless, and even extremely fast runs were “articulated” as appropriate by the interpreter. It would be a mistake not to mention, once again, the excellent accompaniment of Gianluca Geremia; with seamless variations, it often engaged in active dialogue, whether with the violin or with the flute.
The concert in Moravský Krumlov rightly warmed the hearts of everyone in the audience. Besides its quality, as reviewed, the fact that, after a long time, the listeners heard live music and the musicians experienced the much-needed applause they rightly deserve for their work once again.
Fipple flutes, violin: Anna Fusek
Lute, theorbo: Gianluca Geremia
Joan Ambrosio Dalza: Tastar de corde I
Gioseffo Zarlino: Bicinia sopra I' "Ottavo modo"
Gioseffo Zarlino: Bicinia sopra I' "Undecimo modo"
Joan Ambrosio Dalza: Tastar de corde II
Cipriano de Rore: Io canterei d'amor
Biagio Marini: La Orlandina
Biagio Marini: Sinfonia del Terzo Tuono
Dario Castello: Sonata Prima
Claudio Monteverdi: Dolci miei sospiri
Claudio Monteverdi: I bei legami
Claudio Monteverdi: Damigella tutta bella
Tomaso Albinoni: Sonata No. 7 in D Major (Trattenimenti Armonici, Op. 6)
Benedetto Marcello: Sonata No. 12, Op. 2
Moravský Krumlov, Church of All Saints
Saturday 5 June, 7.30 p.m.