BY DON DEGANAIS, KC Metropolis
The Kansas City Baroque Consortium’s artistic director and cellist Trilla Ray-Carter explained before the concert that the theme, “Between Silence and Light,” came from the title of a book by architect Louis Kahn, who strove to achieve “the meeting between the measurable and the unmeasurable,” as he wrote. In that spirit, Carter programmed works ranging from the 17th Century dances of English composer Michael Praetorius to a world premiere of a new work by Liberty resident (but English-born) Ian Coleman.
The Baroque Consortium opened the concert with three movements from the Suite from Les Indes Galantes of Jean-Phillipe Rameau, composed in 1735. During his period, French operas typically contained ballets, and this particular ballet is from an opera Rameau composed in recollection of a trip to North American tribes in the New World, as they journeyed to pay homage to King Louis XV. The sprightly music showed Rameau’s usual French influence, but also displayed some surprising open-octave and open-fifth harmonies, the composer’s apparent attempt to portray the exotic nature of Native Americans. It strikingly reminded this listener of Shaker music from New England, which became well-known a century later.
Three dancers from the Owen/Cox Dance Group joined the Baroque Consortium for Georg Frideric Handel’s Passacaille (Italian: passacaglia)from his Trio Sonata. Jennifer Owen’s choreography was bright and cheery, as always, and brought a lively humor to this hodgepodge of ballet melodies.
Harpsichordist Charles Metz mesmerized the audience with a brilliant solo performance of Handel’s Harpsichord Suite in E Major, better known to most listeners as “The Harmonious Blacksmith.” His stylish rendition brought out the highlights in this melodic and jubilant work. Bringing emphasis and feeling to the solo harpsichord is difficult because of the instrument’s inability to change volume, but Metz used tempo instead, drawing out certain phrases and dashing through others, to bring the maximum amount of color and contrast to the music. He was awarded with a long and appreciative ovation.
The Owen/Cox dancers returned to the stage for the world premiere of Ian Coleman’s work Wild Dance of Flame. As the composer explained prior to the performance, in writing this piece he expanded on a theme from a previous composition (done earlier this summer by the Kansas City Baroque Consortium), taking fire as his theme, and composing music inspired by the dancing of a flame. The resulting music starts with pizzicatos and short bursts of notes from the strings, followed by a cello solo nicely rendered by Ray-Carter, continuing with long drawn-out melody, and ending with a repetition of the pizzicattos and short bursts of the opening, concluding with a staccato chord at the end.
The dancers from the Owen/Cox Company, Christine Ayers, Ivan Braatz and Cameron Thomas, gamboled, pranced, skipped and catered back and forth across the stage, nicely portraying in movement the waving, dipping and leaping of the imaginary flame. The choreography was an excellent marriage of movement to music, and as the composer said, revealed to him aspects of his composition of which he was unaware.
The Baroque Consortium gave a pleasing rendition of a six-part dance suite from the opera Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme of the French master Jean-Baptiste Lully (1670), which featured a variety of different instrumental spotlights, including a violin-cello duet with concertmaster William Bauer and artistic director Ray-Carter, a cello-harpsichord duet with Ray-Carter and Metz, and an attractive solo by Mark Cohick (who usually played the recorder) on a wooden flute. The piece began and ended with a vigorous militaristic “grand march” which nicely bookended the instrumental interludes.
For their concluding number, the Baroque Consortium and Owen/Cox dancers performed Michael Praetorius’ Dances from Terpsichore (1612), extracted from a large collection of dances the composer wrote. The music was cleanly performed with vigor and feeling, particularly the plaintive tune from the fourth movement (“Spagnoletta”), definitely the most familiar piece of music performed during the evening.
For her dance choreography, Owens brought her performers out with a burst of athletic energy, as they performed at almost Olympian levels, leaping and racing back and forth across the stage. They took animated turns displaying some spectacular movements and amazing energy, and, joining together, took the piece to an animated conclusion which brought the crowd to its feet.
Special mention should be made of costume designers Lisa Choules and Anastasia Rendina, and lighting designer Ashley Kok, all of whose work added much to the enjoyment of the evening.
The performance was held in the Parish Hall of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 40th and Main Streets. The renovated hall contains nice acoustics and a handy, if small, stage. This listener appreciated the friendly size and accommodations of the venue, a comment also made by other audience members. And the adjacent reception room proved handy for the post-concert reception where the artists could greet the performers. All in all, it is a delightful venue for this type of performance.
Kansas City Baroque Consortium and Owen Cox Dance Group
Between Silence and Light: Concert 3
Friday, August 11, 2017
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
40th and Main Street, Kansas City, MO
For more information visit http://www.kcbaroque.org/ or http://www.owencoxdance.org/