The Baltimore Consort by Curtis Rittenhouse

By on December 18, 2011

The Baltimore Consort, an early music group with a 32-history of music-making and recording, is touring this month performing a program of Christmas carols and short pieces from old England, Germany, France and Finland. Friday night they offered a concert in the early American St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster PA, which boasts a beautiful brick pre-Baroque sanctuary and acoustics well suited for this program.

Many of these carols have familiar melodies, even if the arrangements with lute, viola da gamba, rebec, cittern, goat horns and crumhorns produce unfamiliar sounds. The crumhorns in  particular looked like party favors and sounded like kazoos. Vocal pieces were sung by Jose Lemos a countertenor with a smooth silky style and tone, and high soprano Danielle Savonavec whose voice fits the style like a glove. The different sets spanned solo contributions and ensembles.

Consort members talked about the selections, as well as their unusual instruments throughout the concert. There was nothing that wasn’t melodic, soothing, and joyful, in keeping with the season.

If you like seasonal music, but get dyspeptic in shopping centers  hearing White Christmas or Rocking Around the Christmas Tree or excerpts from the Messiah done by the Food Fair Strings or Sonny Tufts or the Slackwater Jug Band or Dr. Rappermouth ad nauseam, this interesting offering may be a pleasant surpise.

 

Curtis Rittenhouse

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