Graham Walker and I attended an Early Music Vancouver concert of J.S. Bach's 4 Orchestral Suites played by the Belgian group Il Fondamento. It is not often that one gets to listen and see a large 18 piece baroque instrument orchestra so Walker and I sat in the front row to get a full (loud) sound. All performers were dressed in black and my eyes lingered on the female bassoonist who was dressed in an old fashioned black and very frilly dress. She was wearing black hose and black flat shoes. I could get a glimpse of the shoes and the ankles and I felt like a naughty Victorian gentleman. I looked at the faces of the musicians, I froze them in my mind like a Daguerreotype camera and tried to imagine them in the 19th century or even further back as Flemish portrait paintings. I lingered again on the unlikely named bassoonist. The program said she was Alain De Rijckere. I imagined her as a Vermeer by a window, with little on, gazing with pride of purpose.
After the concert Walker and I had a chat with the very friendly violinist Johan Van Aken. Being able to chat with musicians is one of the additional pleasures of Early Music Vancouver concerts. It's far more intimate than seeing 19th century clothed members of large orchestras up on a stage and to be subjected to the stiff protocol of the concertmaster shaking hands with the director. An older man, sitting on the right with his oboe, Paul Dombrecht was the director. In the Bach suites without oboes the first violinist Dirk Vandaele nodded his head in direction.
Van Aken told us that he had done many of the transcriptions and annotations to the Il Fundamento CD that both Walker and I bought. The CD featured Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga Orchestral Works 1818- 1824. The Basque composer died in Paris when he was 20. The prospect of listening to new music (for us anyway) from an unknown composer (to us) was exciting.
I dared in the end to mention to Van Aken my infatuation with the bassoonist and I enquired how a woman could be called Alain. "No, she is not Alain. She is an Australian called Jane Gower. If you want I will introduce you to her." For a few seconds my visions of the Flemish painting (as replicated with a camera) came crashing down but I quickly shifted to an Australian outback. But I felt too shy to accept Van Aken's offer and, of course I now regret it.
What does Il Fundamento, a formerly Flemish but now Australian bassoonist, and a long forgotten Basque composer of the early 19th century have to do with Don Ameche?
For one while this blog is broken and I have a limited ability to post pictures with some sort of control I enjoy posting large photos as they appear large. For most people who might read this blog today they will probably not know who Ameche is. And that is perfectly fine. But just freeze your sight on the man and perhaps imagine him as a movie actor playing D'Artagnan with foil in hand. You could be right or you could be wrong. That's not important. It's the imagining that is.
As I played Il Fondamento's Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga I tried to imagine him at his deathbed (he died of tuberculosis) with his friend Spanish pianist Mateo Pérez de Albéniz bedside. When Arriaga died Albéniz sent the composer's belongings to his home in Bilbao and wrote a letter to his father.
Early Music Vancouver's next concert
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