Les Délices at Tregoning & Co., January 28
By Mike Telin
A well-conceived and inventive program expertly performed in an acoustical environment that enhances the listening experience presented with an air of casual sophistication: once again Debra Nagy and her Les Délices colleagues achieved all of the above on Saturday, January 28 at Tregoning and Co. with their program titled Caractères de la danse, The program included music by Hotteterre, Rebel and Boismortier and took the audience on a journey back in time to the world’s first ballet school, The Académie Royale de la danse, which was founded in 1661 by King Louis XIV.
The program, which as one might assume from the title, consisted of music inspired by dance, began with the full ensemble, Debra Nagy, baroque oboe and recorder, Julie Andrijeski, violin, Josh Lee, viola da gamba & Michael Sponseller, harpsichord, in a captivating performance of a Suite from Psyché (1678) by Jean Baptiste Lully. Anne Lockard kindly loaned her Earl Russell harpsichord for the occasion, and its rich tones added to the pleasure of the evening.
Deuxième Suite from Premier Livre (1715) by Jacques Martin Hotteterre, a delightful five movement piece for oboe and continuo, was given a stylish performance – especially beautiful was the sweet Sarabande La Fidelle followed by a sexy Gavotte en rondeau La Maillebois. The expert continuo playing of Lee and Sponseller added that certain je ne sais quoi.
The first of two pieces by Jean-Féry Rebel; La Terpischore (1720), was a humorous work aptly described in the program notes as a light-hearted romp that crackles with energy. Here Julie Andrijeski easily negotiated the quick arpeggios à la Vivaldi with technical command and centered pitch.
Deuxième Balet from Balets de Village (1734) by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier, which Ms. Nagy described as an 18th century hoe-down, made one wish there was space to get up and dance: what fun!
For Louis de Caix d’Hervelois’ Suite in A minor from Troisième Livre (1731), it was all about the continuo. Caix, a student of Marin Marais, like his teacher, had a way with writing bass lines, and once again Josh Lee and Michael Sponseller performed musical magic. Neither player even broke a sweat during the piece’s many virtuosic passages, and Lee added tasteful vibrato to warm up some expressive notes..
Rebel’s Caractères de la danse (1715) a fantasia of dance styles that quickly turn from one mood to the next, concluded the evening, and this was a performance to behold. All of the “quick changes” were seamless in their transitions and Andrijeski and Nagy did some phenomenal unison playing of impossibly fast passages.
Although the level of period instrument playing has risen to the point that we now expect to hear concerts where the players are in full technical command instruments, alas, it is still rare to find an ensemble that plays with as much musical refinement as Les Délices. This group is a treasure in Cleveland’s musical life.