‘The Sun King’s Music’
January 17, 2012 · Updated 9:29 PM
In the mid-1600s Pignon Descoteaux and Philibert Rebille, made the three-piece baroque form of the horizontally held or “transverse” flute fashionable in the court of the French “Sun King” Louis XIV. Around 1667, they were joined by a viola player and baroque guitarist. The foursome was called “Musique de la Chambre.”
Now Joanna Blendulf, shown right, on the viol or “viola da gamba” and the smallest size of viola da gamba, the “pardessus de viole,” John Lenti on the baroque guitar and Jeffrey Cohan on the baroque transverse flute, will bring this timeless music to life on San Juan, Orcas and Lopez to kick off the second annual 2012 Salish Sea Early Music Festival. The five programs of early chamber music on period instruments will run throughout May.
The first performances entitled “The Sun King’s Music” are Jan. 21, 7 p.m. on Lopez at Grace Church and Jan. 22 on Orcas at 1:30 p.m. at the Rosario music room and 7 p.m. on San Juan at St. David’s Church.
The shows feature instruments and music at a pitch more than two half steps below modern pitch, which would have been typical during Louis XIV’s reign.
“It [the pitch] might have been somewhat less brilliant, but brilliance was not an esteemed quality until later, relative to the desire for the rich, broad and colorful sound which these flutes possess, and which was expected of all instruments by Louis XIV’s musicians,” said Cohan.
Cohan said he looks forward to performing on the islands because St. David’s Church, Grace Church and the Rosario music room all provide both the necessary reverb and the intimacy that will assist the musicians in conjuring up a musical soiree for this time period.
“Whereas modern music benefits from an acoustic that is not too reverberant, the rich and relatively soft tone colors of these baroque instruments work together well with a more ringing tonal environment,” said Cohan.