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Review: Journeying with Ensemble Caprice

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Ensemble Caprice
  • Ensemble Caprice

"Salsa Baroque: Music of Latin America and Spain." It takes the imagery of imagination to translate two hours of middle-Baroque music into the act of sailing the Atlantic, journeying all the way to Argentina and doing so with the panache of Ensemble Caprice. Led by recorder players Matthias Maute and Sophie Larivière, the Caprice musicians made a bit of a production of their Sunday afternoon concert. Maute had appeared with two Caprice players the Friday prior to open the Indy Early Music series.

David Jacques started the journey by himself onstage with a guitar solo, when all of a sudden the remaining five musicians added their own timbres as they sauntered single file down the Basile Theater steps from in back of us to join Jacques. The three remaining artists are Baroque cellist Susie Napper, percussionist Ziya Tabassian and guest soprano Estelí Gomez.

Gomez has a lovely voice, often singing a pure, burnished white (i.e. no vibrato) and quite apropos for the musical era and styles to which they exposed us. An often featured composer was Santiago de Murcia (1673 - 1739), who put the stamp on the period, one which was also defined by a number of anonymous sources. One such source emerged as a "Chacona" (which is Spanish for "Ciaconna" or "Chaconne") -- intricate writing decorating a short, repeated line, from a composer unknown.

Other featured composers were Andrea Falconieri (1586 - 1656), Juan de Araujo (1648 - 1712), Domenico Zipoli (1668 - 1726) and Heinrich von Biber (1644 - 1704) whose "The Nightwatch" Chaconne we heard as the penultimate piece, one which Maute himself sang as he once again entered the hall from the rear. Tabassian used mostly small percussive instruments, one a single hand-held jiggler, another a small drum.

No lute of any kind has yet appeared in the first two series programs. Recent past-summer early music programs have been dominated by lutes of all sizes, including the monstrous theorbo and its large first cousin the archlute (They're almost twins). An inspection of the remaining series programs reveals that the theorbo-only will appear in the final concert featuring the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, with David Walker its player.

The Ensemble Caprice has recorded this entire program on CD -- no wonder they brought off everything with such panache. Anyone who's the least bit into early music should pick up this disk. June 21; Indiana History Center

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