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Early Music Letter to the Editor
A Response from Dale Higbee
November 29, 2002 - Salisbury, NC:
I appreciate your interest in Carolina Baroque being sufficient to send a reviewer to our concert on Sunday
[11/24/02], and I'm sorry that he was less than a completely satisfied customer. We have received so many flattering reviews, however, that it is good to get some more critical feedback. Teresa Radomski, soprano, was a little annoyed at the comments of another of your reviewers about her vibrato on our CD of "Cantatas & Concertos of Bach" (so I chose not to quote that review on our website), but she will be delighted at the high praise of her work at this concert. I told her to take the CD review with a grain of salt, as the reviewer might have eaten something that didn't agree with him! You can't please everyone. In this concert I thought that both she and Lee Morgan, alto, were absolutely fabulous, an opinion that your reviewer shared.
I agree with this reviewer that I got a little carried away in commentary about my favorite composer. When we perform in larger halls, I let the music (plus my program notes) speak for itself, but sometimes I say a few words about the instruments and pieces beforehand because our audiences usually include people with a very wide range of musical backgrounds, and I'm sorry if I seemed to be "condescending" Sunday afternoon. I want to help our audiences to be more comfortable listening to classical music, not be put off by it.
I was interested that your reviewer took me to task for saying that the Chapel is such a fine place for playing chamber music (which it is) because this concert featured arias & duets from Handel operas. Few reviewers are so knowledgeable about Handel's music that they would recognize that four of the five pieces of "ballet music" that we played were actually Handel's arrangements of them included in his Opus 5 Trio-sonatas, three of them from No. 3, and the "Passacaille" from No. 4, which betrays its origins by having an optional viola part (rarely heard in concerts or recordings), which the gamba played. Handel liked the piece so much, incidentally, that he used it in "Il Parnasso in Festa" and "Terpsicore", as well as "Radamisto." The "Entree des Songes agéables" he used in both "Ariodante" and "Alcina." He wrote it for 3 violins, viola and cello, but I like it so much that I included it in this concert, with violin playing Violin 1, gamba playing Viola, and harpsichord playing Violin 2 & 3, plus Cello. It wasn't as satisfying as in the original scoring, but I think it worked fairly well. We have to do with what we have.
Your reviewer also expressed disappointment at the secondary roles that the violinist and gambist played in this concert. They will both have opportunities to show off their performing skills in the other two concerts on our series. I hope that you will send someone to hear them.
[The author is Music Director of Carolina Baroque, based in Salisbury.]