Monday, June 26, 2017

ENSEMBLE SCANDICUS: CONCERT REVIEW

Every summer, the Chapelle Saint-Germain de Cesseras holds a concert series, usually featuring early music from Bach on back. We've attended a few and found them thoroughly enjoyable. This Sunday's concert was no exception.

The chapel is located a kilometer off the road between Cesseras and Siran on a narrow track that winds through woods and vines. No reservations. Parking in a field. Tickets are 13 euros and include a tasting after the concert provided by a neighboring domain. The chapel, built in the 11th and 12th Centuries as the parish church of a village that has since disappeared, is quite simple with a dirt floor and a barely raised altar area. Folding chairs provide seating for about 100.

Ensemble Scandicus led off this year's series. Based in Toulouse, Scandicus features all male voices - two counter-tenors, two tenors, and a bass in Sunday's configuration. One tenor played flute and oud, a second tenor assisted occasionally on percussion, and an instrumentalist provided percussion and played a particularly delicate santour (a Persian form of hammered dulcimer). The program was a new one for the ensemble, sephardic music of Spain and across the Med from the 14th through the 17th Century.

I'm no vocal critic but I found the voices perfectly suited to each other and to the chapel. Those old stone spaces are made for this sort of music, requiring no amplification and ringing clear throughout the space. At points, a very few points, a bit of hesitation might have indicated that this new program required a bit more rehearsal. But that's a quibble. This was a truly enjoyable concert. The audience applauded long and loud at the finish. And even though the wine at the end was not exactly distinguished, at least it was cold and wet.

The next concert in the series should be interesting - Japanese shakuachi flute. In a thousand year-old chapel in France. A half hour from where I live. What a life!

Check out the Ensemble Scandicus website HERE.
Check out the concert schedule at the Chapelle Saint-Germain HERE.







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