Andante everything classical

04 04 2003

AUSTRALIA (AUS)

 

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The group's performance in Hobart the evening before the Evandale concerts was full of vigor and musical fireworks

The entire program was a delight, and was most warmly received by the capacity audience

 

 

Tasmania's Ten Days on the Island Festival Packs In the Music

Medieval Sicilian dances, Bach violin sonatas and John Field's nocturnes on a fortepiano all in the space of 24 hours.

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[...]

The performers who comprise Al Qantarah are also scholars, dedicated to research into the medieval music of Sicily and its relationship to that island's continuing folk musical traditions, which encompass Arabic as well as Latin influences. This may sound like a rather academic exercise, but the group's performance in Hobart the evening before the Evandale concerts was full of vigor and musical fireworks.
These five men were obviously feeling the cold: amongst the array of exotic instruments around their podium was a small electric heater, and the main singer (Roberto Bolleli, a dead ringer for Danny di Vito) in particular needed time to warm up. He at first sounded rather thin and uncomfortable, but as the evening progressed his voice took on a fuller, somewhat nasal resonance which fit the music perfectly.
Apart from one named composer, the program was made up of works by Anon. and Trad.: the former referred to pieces from the 12th or 13th centuries, the latter to songs still performed in Sicily. One of the aims of the program was to show the connection of one to the other. The difference was clear, in that the older works were obviously performed come scritto while the traditional music allowed a level of improvisation, but as the program progressed the affect of the two sources tended to merge.

The opening song, for voice, 'ud (Arabic lute), zarb (drum) and tambourine, was somewhat dirge-like; the second piece, for pipe and tabor, marranzanu (jew's harp) and scattagnetti (castanets) was a little livelier; with the third, the concert really began to take off. This medley of traditional works featured what might be termed a cadenza for duelling tambourines, showing just how far from the Salvation Army that humble instrument can get. Subsequent pieces utilized a symphonia (hurdy-gurdy) and ciaramedda, a species of bagpipes made from a whole sheep. Various combinations of the several instruments were displayed, with and without voice; several of the works called for vocal harmony in two, three or four parts, sometimes a cappella. One particularly lovely Tarantella featured an amazingly well projected solo marranzanu. The entire program was a delight, and was most warmly received by the capacity audience

Sandra Bowdler