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devil duck

concert and stuff

We had been considering going to an SCA event this weekend, but it didn't work out for various reasons. So the night before last, shalmestere said "Wasn't there a concert that looked good but we couldn't get to because we'd be on our way to the event?" She looked on various web sites and discovered a TENET concert of Ars Antiqua and Ars Nova music, in two shows September 30. So yesterday morning she made some phone calls and nabbed two tickets to the early show.

It turns out that TENET is doing a series of three concerts this year focused on Machaut. This one started with Machaut's predecessors Adam de la Halle and Philippe de Vitry, continuing through Machaut's "early period" (i.e. pieces included in mss. dated around 1350); the second, in January, will be "middle period" Machaut and contemporaries; and the third, in May, will be late Machaut and "the next generation" (presumably Ars Subtilior, perhaps as far as Dufay). All three concerts will be in the same small performance space (seats about 40-50) on 13th Street.

I think this is the earliest repertoire we've heard TENET do: I tend to associate them with 17th-century music. And indeed, they're doing Monteverdi, J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, and Gesualdo this year, in addition to the Machaut cycle. But (with a somewhat different choice of personnel and instruments) they did a terrific job of it. Music director Scott Metcalf gave an informal but informative overview of Machaut's life and work, as well as controversies and trends in performance practice of this music, and he played a pretty mean vielle (and occasionally harp). Debora Nagy wrote neat instrumental arrangements of some of the songs, and played either doucaine, on untexted tenor lines against two voices, or Boudreau stick recorders (just like the ones we just bought) on noodly upper lines in all-instrumental pieces. Charlie Weaver, whom we met in the "Machaut Project" at our first Amherst workshop and who is often seen around town with a theorbo longer than he is, played a more reasonable-scale plectrum lute. Singers Jolle Greenleaf, Luthien Brackett, Owen McIntosh, and Jason McStoots, in various combinations, took the texted lines and sometimes vocalized on untexted lines, blending well while remaining distinct enough to make out what their disparate lines were doing. We were particularly impressed with Luthien Brackett's clear, unfussy alto voice.

After the concert, we stopped for ice cream and were still home by 10 PM, which is pretty nice.

Now the weekend starts. I think it'll be largely a cleaning-and-home-improvement weekend: our dishwasher just died, and at thirty years old it's apparently irreparable, so it needs to be replaced. But we were planning a complete kitchen renovation some time in the coming year, and it seems silly to install a new dishwasher just before the renovation, so the renovation may have moved way up on the urgency scale. We'll probably see a movie or two in between house-related errands.

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