Last Friday evening at 7:30 p.m.,I found myself once again at the Redstone Recital Hall at UVM to attend a concert presented by the Lane Series. The music was Baroque, the emphasis was French, and the performing group was Masques, from Montr al, an ensemble composed of Sophie Gent and Tuomo Suni, violins; Kate Haynes, cello;and Olivier Fortin, harpsichord and leader.
By the end of the first two movements of Jean-Marie Leclair's Ouvertura op. 13 no. 3 (from Ouvertures et sonates en trio, op. 13, 1753), it was clear that the audience was going to be exposed to superb stylistically-correct French Baroque music as realized through the superb musicianship and the inspiring technical abilities of these four musicians. Using Baroque instruments -- I didn't ask; I assumed from the length of their necks that they were Baroque-style violins and period-style bows, and that the cello that was pegless was a further clue -- these incredible musicians treated us to some of the most gracefully nuanced music that we have been privileged to hear in several seasons under the auspices of the Lane Series.
Gent especially embodied -- quite literally -- the spirit of the ensemble's playing, through her willingness to let the music being played be doubled or mirrored in her movements now causing her to resemble summer flowers in a field caressed by a summer zephyr, now giving her body the chiseled movements of a blue heron stilting its way around the edges of a pond, and all delivered with the requisite reflections of dynamic. The entire ensemble in one way or another always exemplified what was seen and heard.
The two Concerts from Jean-Philppe Rameau's "Pieces de clavecin en concert" were the most curious to hear, since they seemed to be sui generis, quite unique among the pieces chosen for the concert. I felt that the audience would have even more deeply appreciated Rameau's genius if the titles of the individual pieces had been translated. I would, for my part, have potentially appreciated more certainly and more clearly understood the virtuoso settings that Rameau created for these musical pictures. They seemed to be the most challenging works that were performed on the program -- especially the entrances of voices in several of those pieces in the 1st concert (a minor point, perhaps, but a telling one.