“Dreaming Jupiter” is the name of the concert program this week from Tafelmusik at Jeanne Lamon Hall, that might epitomize everything about their approach to making music.
Where the Toronto Symphony are lately the place you go hear the pieces you know and love played by a modern orchestra, Tafelmusik are the opposite. TSO build their audience via a mainstream approach, Tafelmusik appeal to the hardcore afficionado, offering music we’ve probably never heard on instruments we don’t know too well, played by a virtuoso instrumentalist.
We listen with an attentiveness bordering on religious fervor, and we’re rewarded with unique performances of rare beauty.
Tafelmusik assembled two contrasting types of music working in a kind of dialogue, back and forth between Vittorio Ghielmi’s solos for viola da gamba and flamboyant orchestral pieces, an evening of contrasts and drama. The title alludes to the composition with which we closed, namely an original adaptation by Ghielmi of Forqueray’s Jupiter.
Before we got there we listened to Ghielmi demonstrate the range of possibilities in the instrument, sometimes plaintive soft lyricism, sometimes quick ornamented passages.
I’m challenged to rethink or reframe my understanding of the baroque, having heard a whole new kind of playing tonight. Ghielmi takes the stage with his solos as though performing a soliloquy or an opera aria, but gradually working through its nuances without seeming to show off. There’s a kind of understated eloquence at work that reminds me of Stanislavsky or The Method, as though he were coming at baroque expressiveness not from an extroverted mandate of display for display’s sake, but, dare I say it, from the inside. There’s a genuine impulse that’s properly discursive like a conversation or dramatic dialogue, whether in his louder or soft moments. As a result I see so many more possibilities, not just in what he was playing but in other baroque composers as well.
The solo jewels from Ghielmi’s hands were set against a backdrop of orchestral outpouring from the operatic realm, as though his solos were shining jewels, to contrast orchestral numbers like masses of dark velvet.
I’ve heard some of these pieces before but never quite this way as Ghielmi exhorted Tafelmusik to bring extraordinary fire to these pieces, towering moments of larger than life drama.
I’m hoping Marshall Pynkoski comes to hear this program as we are again teased (or tormented?) with the stunning beauty of seven examples of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s orchestral brilliance. I’m hopeful that Opera Atelier will undertake one of these marvelous operas.