Displaying her pure, seductive tone

Renaissance & Baroque Society
By Burkhardt Reiter, for the Post-Gazette
October 1, 2007

The Renaissance & Baroque Society of Pittsburgh unveiled its season Saturday night with Spiritus Collective. A septet of two violins, two sackbuts, baroque trumpet, theorbo and harpsichord, the Collective brought several baroque gems to Synod Hall, providing a delightful concert.

Displaying her pure, seductive tone, Julie Andrijeski gave an outstanding performance of a trio-sonata by Dario Castello. The plaintiveness of Andrijeski’s opening phrases gave way to her skill for crisp articulations. She made her violin speak every note clearly, no matter how short. The dynamic shift to a painfully soft moment spoke volumes about the understanding she and fellow musicians Grant Herreid (theorbo) and Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) brought to Castello’s intriguing composition. Like hammer blows from a Mahler symphony, Herreid’s heavily strummed theorbo chords closed this piece with a dramatic and tragic flourish.

Castello’s unique compositional voice also was displayed in two sonatas. Erik Schmalz displayed his sackbut’s wide range and provided excellent counterpoint to Robert Mealy’s and Andrijeski’s violins. The ensemble was tight, matching articulations and note durations with stellar results.

Mealy and Andrijeski melded their timbre and styles in the duo moments, communicating with body movements and constant eye contact. In their solo passages, they allowed themselves to show different personas — a performance decision that was artfully realized in the conclusion of the last Castello sonata. They turned back to back, so that only the sound holes on Mealy’s violin were facing the audience. The dynamic effect made Andrijeski act as Mealy’s musical shadow and further confirmed the presence of two musical characters within Castello’s composition.

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