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~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

 


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Elinor Frey talks about The Galante Violoncello Piccolo

My visit to New York to perform with Dorian Baroque orchestra is something I’m greatly looking forward to! One reason is simply that we are playing some of my favorite music. I have been obsessed with the Concerti Grossi by Alessandro Scarlatti for the past year. If I didn’t listen half the time on my computer, then my favorite CD would be well worn out! We are playing two of his string ensemble works and I can’t wait to work on the shaping and characters together. We will also collaborate on two concertos for the 5-string cello (or “violoncello piccolo”), an instrument I want to bring more and more into the public sphere. I love the “5-string” because of the versatility of its range: it can play very high virtuosic passages and then sing deeply in the cello’s beautiful tenor and bass registers. It can also “steal” violin repertoire but in this concert I don’t have to because G.B. Sammartini himself wrote his concerto “per violino ò violoncello piccolo.”

Personally, one of my favorite aspects of being a “period” player is the chance to learn about the life stories of so many unusual composers and how they connected to each other. Carlo Ambrogio Lonati is a fascinating character. Perhaps there is no better way to delve into a musician’s life than to experience their music in concert and to engage with an interpretation of it. We will perform one of his Sinfonias for strings. The program came about because I wanted to explore string music and 5-string cello concerti from either Milan or Naples and to explore how the 5-string cello played a role in their histories. However, in my conversations with Marina we simply couldn’t choose one city’s music over the other, both were appealing. So we decided to combine the two and simply play the music we were most eager to present.

Marina and I met a long time ago as undergraduates at the Mannes College of Music, striving to become musicians and to learn our instruments, long before either of us knew much about historical performance practice or how to play on gut strings. The first contact I had with “Early Music” was at Mannes, playing with gambist Patricia Ann Neely in a production of Ordo Virtutum and with violinist Nancy Wilson in the Baroque ensemble. New York has had great musicians playing on period instruments for a long time, but Marina’s initiative to create a regularly-performing fairly-large ensemble of period string players through Dorian Baroque, is a welcome addition to the Early Music scene in North America.

— Elinor Frey, Montréal, Canada
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