Friday September 14, 2012 - Le Poème Harmonique brought the sounds and atmosphere of a night in 17th-century Venice to Columbia University's Miller Theatre with a candle-lit concert of works by Monteverdi, Manelli, and their contemporaries. I was able to attend the second of two concerts and it was a truly impressive evening of music-making. Photo above by Olivier Lexa.
Both performances were sold out, and the wonderfully attentive audience were held in a state of quiet joy as the evening unfolded. I think the music and the musicians really spoke to the listeners; and certainly for me, after a few weeks of unhappy events in my life, I began to feel a weight being lifted as the evening progressed. That is the power of music.
Vincent Dumestre (above, photo by Per Buhre) is the guiding light of Le Poème Harmonique. The handsome maitre d'ensemble was a fine presence onstage, and his instrumentalists seemed to take real pleasure in the dazzling harmonic and rhythmic shifts of the music. The atmosphere, candlelit and heartfelt, drew us in. The outside could be forgotten for a while.
Among the stage-full of superb musicians, soprano Claire Lefilliatre (above) made a particularly distinctive impression with her Burgundy-flavoured timbre, suggestvely sensuous in her lower range, and with a lovely aproach to the words. Her singing all evening was vivid and enticing. A trio of expert male vocalists reveled in the harmonies as their timbres blended to delightful effect: tenors Jan Van Elsacker and Serge Goubioud and basso Geoffroy Buffiere were ever-attuned to the texts and seemed especially to enjoy the long comic revel of Francesco Manelli's La Banchetta Passagiera. All four singers moved with the grace of dancers, using their hands in an expressive manner to underline the nuances of the music.
Above: Guy Vivien's photo of the artists of Le Poème Harmonique. This ensemble present everything from intimate chamber evenings to full-scale opera productions. I will be very glad of any opportunity to experience their work in the future.
A gallery of Matt Murphy's photos from this production will appear here shortly.