Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Musical tour of Venice history

Tom Strini in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews Saturday's performance by Spiritus Collective at St. John's Cathedral, part of this year's Early Music Now series.
These composers were among the first to designate instrumentation, which Saturday included the trombone-like sackbut, the piercing cornetto, violins, organ, harpsichord and theorbo (bass lute), in groupings from duo to full band. The big ensembles were inevitably split in two, with lots of call-and-response, a fair bit of contrapuntal imitation, and striking, abrupt merging into a wall of sound.

That last effect often associated with Filippo Spectorini.

I thought one reason the Cathedral renovation included replacing the pews with chairs was because chairs could be rearranged for concerts. They weren't. If you look at the floor plan, the musicians were in the "Music Area" (formerly the Sanctuary). The seating in the section between them and the altar faces the central aisle, so the musicians were to the side of that part of the audience. The altar was between the musicians and most of the rest of the audience, in the line of sight of people along the central aisle.

The Corona looks further away in this picture than it does in person. It's style is a quite jarring contrast to the rest of the Cathedral, even as renovated.

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