More Music in Calary

More Music in Calary  –  Review by George Fleeton


George Fleeton

That little gem of a venue for light classical music recitals in the Wicklow Mountains on a shoulder of the Great Sugar Loaf just off the R755 to Roundwood and Glendalough – namely the 180 year old Calary Church of Ireland – presented its final prom of the year on October 12.

Handel’s music dominated the programme, which was offered by sisters Fionnuala deBúrca (soprano) and Aingeala deBúrca (violin) with Joe Bradley on harpsichord.

We heard four of Handel’s Nine German Songs (composed around 1726), a Violin Sonata from 1732, and Almirena’s aria from his 1711 opera Rinaldo, written for London just before he settled there.

Those four early leider are essentially feather light, pastoral style sacred music (one wonders did they anticipate the Romanticism of the late 18th century?) and, here sung to the accompaniment of violin and harpsichord, they came cross beautifully in a perfect acoustic surround.

(The harpsichord is a very delicate instrument and should not have been approached by two male members of the audience during the interval just to ping a couple of the keys, which seemed to require Joe Bradley to retune it slightly during part two of the Recital).

Aingeala deBúrca took a moment, mid-cycle, to tell us the difference between her modern and her baroque bows and their respective bowing techniques.

I’m not a great fan of the art songs of either Ralph Vaughan Williams (in this instance four of the eight from his 1927 song cycle Along the Field), nor of Gustav Holst (here, his Four Songs from 1916-7).

So that left a violin solo (the twelfth of 12 Fantasias, from 1735) by the prolific and self-taught Georg Philipp Telemann; and an aria by Alessandro Scarlatti, Le Violette/The Violets, from his 1694 Neapolitan opera Pirro e Demetrio.

As you can see by the dates (early 18th century) the artistic thrust of this Recital was a celebration of the baroque – surely among the most beautiful of words and music ever written? – and it was vaut le voyage / worth the trip, as the ‘Michelin Guide to Wicklow’ might have said, by way of recommendation.

Next at Calary Church is their Carol Service on December 23 at 7.00 p.m.

Previous Recitals in Calary Church were reviewed, here on DownNews, on August 16 (see Summer Music in Rural Ireland).

George Fleeton writes independently on arts and culture.