Nothing in recent Berkshire performance memory could have prepared me for the extraordinary elegance of today’s recital with renowned gambist Wieland Kuijken, recorder virtuoso Eva Legêne, and harpsichordist Arthur Hass. Mr Kuijken, if you don’t know already, is a member of the renowned Belgian family of period musicians that includes violinist/conductor Sigiswald and flautist Barthold. Dutch-born Eva Legêne, a student of Frans Brüggen, was formally a professor of music at Indiana University and the Royal Danish Academy, and now lives and gives master classes in Germany. Arthur Haas, a student of Alan Curtis and Kenneth Gilbert, performs widely in Europe and teaches at Berkeley, Amherst, the Eastman School, and Stanford.
Most seem to agree musical historicism can go too far: imagine a Plymouth Plantation-style re-enactment of a concert of Baroque music with the audience coming and going, eating picnics in the gods, a musician wearing a modern watch dismissed as a “farb.” Luckily most musical historicists are more practical and flexible. For this concert the hall lights stayed up, which is a nice touch, even if electrics are not as pretty as the candle-lit halls of days past. Unfortunately, and I assume unintended by the musicians, the audience did come and go in between the first several songs, which not only rudely made the musicians wait but disrupted the flow of the program, and one woman, having missed three or four songs, came clumping down the wood-floored aisle in high-heels making an incredible noise. More cheerfully, Mr Scholl had the audience join in on the refrain of Purcell’s Man is for the Woman Made, which, according to Mr Scholl, is what Purcell intended when he originally composed it, for light relief in the theatre. And it did provide some short refreshing relief among the quite serious music in this program.