Early Music Montreal

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Les Voix humaines - La Viole Diabolique

It's hard to believe it is already the twentieth season for Les Voix humaines. They started it on a high note! With guest artist, Wieland Kuijken, this was a concert of rich-sounding viol music. it opened with a solo played by Wieland Kuijken, a prelude and chaconne by Sainte-Colombe. The piece made good use of the low register with resonant deep notes. Kuijken's tone is gorgeous and the viol sang until the last note faded away into nothing.

After reading the information on Forqueray, I did not feel kindly towards the composer. His personality was difficult and his behaviour scandalous - not much to recommend. Fortunately, his music was lovely. Kuijken was joined by Nigel North on lute, Eric Milnes on harpsicord and Susie Napper on viol - a splendid continuo section! Kuijken can make his viol sing as in La Rameau and then whisper with a quiet intimate sound as in La Léon. The church was hot, the music mellow - the perfect combination for drifting into semi-consciousness - but sometimes that is a great way to listen to music. The lute and harpsicord added a bright sound which contrasted nicely with the viols.

The second half of the concert began with solo for theorbo, played by Nigel North. The acoustics of the church, from my vantage point, were excellent for the lute. I really enjoyed the contrast or the light lute sound after the richer and heavier viol sound.

In the Couperin suite which followed there was a nice use of different instruments on the continuo lines. It created a variety of colours and textures which created different moods for each movement. Kuijken's viol playing is very expressive. I particularly like the way he treats slow passages. He sometimes played so quietly, you had to really listen for every note. It pulls the listener in.

All in all a lovely concert.