Scandinavian music, revisited
Albert (left), Lebedinsky (center), and Howard (right) gave a fiery performance of 18th century Scandinavian music in Lorimer Chapel.
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On Saturday, Sept. 24, students and community members filled the pews of Lorimer Chapel for the first installment of the 2011-2012 Music at Colby Series, an evening musical event entitled “The Harpsichord with the Dragon Tattoo.”
The seldom-heard eighteenth century Scandinavian music program was performed by Triumvir—a recently formed musical trio consisting of music associate Michael Albert on the baroque violin, Brian Howard on the baroque cello, and Henry Lebedinsky on the harpsichord.
Claiming that “eighteenth century music and rock and roll are really not that different,” the trio used period instruments to give a fiery performance inspired by the heated political climate at the time the music was written. “Music is meant to be performed and alive now,” Lebedinsky said, noting the scholarship that goes into rediscovering and then reinterpreting older music with modern sensibilities.
The trio’s performance was nothing short of impressive. While Scandinavia may conjure up images of cold, desolate landscapes, the masterworks chosen by Triumvir possessed incredible warmth and playfulness.
Featuring pieces by Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758), Johann Gottfried Palschau (1741-1815), Thomas Byström (1772-1839), John Henrik Freithoff (1713-1839), Henrik Philip Johnsen (1717-1779) and Johan Agrell (1701-1765), the performance inspired constant awe and applause of the audience.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the evening was Albert’s total command of the violin. As he played, Albert’s body jolted with the dramatic notes of his violin— musican and instrument fusing together in a visual and auditory spectacle. Further, Albert’s romantic violin strokes came to the forefront of most of the masterworks, particularly Roman’s Sonata in C-minor.
While the violin generated the emotional gravity of the evening, it was the sour notes of the harpsichord that truly brought to mind an earlier historical period. Lebedinsky’s dizzying and impressive fingerwork at the harpsichord recalled the pomp and excitement of a french salon of the time.
Despite incredible performances by Albert and Lebedinsky, the beautiful and full-bodied cello worked to bridge the sharp, distinct personalities of the harpsichord and the violin.
While Triumvir’s three instruments came together to paint rich auditory pictures of the 18th century, they revealed, more importantly, the power of music to move its audiences.