by Michael Caruso
The Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players performed “Holiday in Paris: Telemann’s Musical Vacation” Sunday, Nov. 24, in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The musical survey encompassed scores Georg Philipp Telemann composed in the style of the French baroque as well as those of contemporary composers who were, in fact, French. The program drew a large and enthusiastic audience that heard the five musicians play with passion and expertise.
The ensemble was comprised of Tempesta founders/directors Gwyn Roberts on flute and Richard Stone on theorbo & lute, Emlyn Ngai on violin, Lisa Terry on viola da gamba and Adam Pearl on harpsichord. The program opened with Telemann’s “Concerto No. 1 in G major.” Its five movements display the composer’s mastery of baroque counterpoint and the era’s use of dance-inspired affections to both charm and endear. Roberts’ playing was especially sweet and lilting: pure in tone and elegant in phrasing.
Ngai, Terry and Pearl joined forces for Jean-Pierre Guignon’s “Sonata in C minor.” The three offered a true Andante for the first movement, rhythmically flowing yet never hurried. Rounding out the first half of the program was Michel Blavet’s “Sonata in E minor for flute, viola da gamba & harpsichord.” Roberts, Terry and Pearl delineated the first movement’s lighter-than-air quality with rhythmic flexibility and textural clarity.
After intermission, all five players performed Telemann’s “Quator in A minor,” efficaciously balancing the first movement’s grander passages against its more intimate moments. The afternoon’s final work was Louis-Gabriel Guillemain’s “Quartet in B minor.” The Tempesta players performed its contrasting textures and emotions with panache, reminding one and all how engaging baroque music can be when played on period instruments by accomplished instrumentalists.
For those of us who remember when, at the age of 20, violinist Itzhak Perlman made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 1965 with Eugene Ormandy on the podium, hearing him both play and conduct the ensemble Saturday, Nov. 23, in Verizon Hall was a thrill. Whether taking the solo part in Beethoven’s “First & Second Romances for Violin & Orchestra” or leading the Philadelphians in Dvorak’s “Serenade for Strings in E major,” Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 2 in D major” or Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture,” Perlman is an artist of unsurpassed stature in today’s classical music world.
He elicited a warm, singing tone and projected a superbly inflected legato in both Beethoven Romances, then drew out playing from the orchestra’s strings in the Dvorak that conjured up memories of the fabled lustrous “Philadelphia Sound” that typified the ensemble when Ormandy was its music director and when Perlman made his debut with it. Musical gestures were fully extended and rounded off, balances were exquisitely molded, and phrases were poignantly shaped.
Settlement Music School’s Children’s Choir, including 21 singers from the Germantown branch, will take part in a Christmas Festival at the Glen Foerd Estate Sunday, Dec. 15, 2 to 5 p.m. Built in 1850 and located at 5001 Grant Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia on the Delaware River, Glen Foerd is the sole remaining 19th century mansion in the city along the river. More information at 215-632-5330 or visit www.glenfoerd.org.