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PREVIEW: Crescendo presents ‘Cantos y Suspiros – Songs and Sighs’ for soprano and period instrument ensemble

"Alternating between dances, songs, and airs, the program can be thought of," Gevert explains, "as a dramatic flow that resembles a stage work of one of the writers of the era: Shakespeare, Moliere, or Cervantes …"

Crescendo Artistic Director Christine Gevert is irresistibly drawn to Hispanic music of the 17th and early 18th centuries. “We gravitate there,” she says in a video posted by Crescendo in anticipation of the group’s performances on February 4 at Trinity Church in Lakeville, Conn., and February 5 at Saint James Place in Great Barrington. “This is where I grew up, so it’s very dear to my heart.”

And so are the composers on Gevert’s program of songs and sighs for soprano and period instrument ensemble,
Juan Hidalgo, Juan de Návas, José Marín, Cristóbal Galán, Sebastian Durón, Santiago de Murcia, José de Orejón y Aparicio, and others.

Crescendo Artistic Director Christine Gevert. Photo courtesy of Crescendo.

“Alternating between dances, songs, and airs, the program can be thought of,” Gevert explains, “as a dramatic flow that resembles a stage work of one of the writers of the era: Shakespeare, Moliere, or Cervantes … The temperament of these songs is…unique—to the Spanish language and to Spain as a country.”

Gevert uses the term ‘colorful’ to describe this program, not only because the instrumentation is sonically vibrant but because the sound of many of the pieces evokes pictures of their origins in place and time. The Spanish court of Philip IV is never far off. Neither is the Basilica Cathedral of Lima.

Leading composers of the day came to perform for Spain’s King Philip IV, who ruled from 1621 to 1665. Philip’s court was a major center for music in Europe. Painting by Diego Velázquez.

“Colorful Spanish and Latin American dances and songs of nature, birds, the sea, wind and the forest, depict the pleasures and treacheries of love; and villancicos and devotional airs—the oldest surviving source of music produced in these regions—illustrate the national identities of these regions.”

This isn’t the group’s first foray into the music of Colonial Latin America. “We’re taking you, [in] this upcoming program, to Spain and a little bit also to Latin America again” (e.g., her most recent program with Crescendo).

“And also,” she says, “February is the month of Valentine’s Day, so you might feel inspired to come and hear this program to get in the mood for Valentine’s Day: Love songs, dances from Spain. It can’t get any better … It draws so much from the folk melodies and rhythms of Spain.”

Here’s the lineup of musicians for “Cantos y Suspiros — Songs and Sighs”:

“The Colombian native, soprano Camila Parias and Baroque harpist Christa Patton, who is a specialist in early repertoire and early instruments, curated a program that we’ve now expanded to a larger cast of musicians from Crescendo. We have a guest viola da gamba player, Gina Allende, coming in from Chile, and we have a violinist from Boston, Job Salazar.” Also appearing: guitarist and theorbist Hideki Yamaya and Christine Gevert on virginal and organ.

“If you want to get literally warmed up a little bit in the cold month of February, come and hear this program. You will not be disappointed!”

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Christine Gevert grew up in Santiago, Chile, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in music theory from the Conservatorio Nacional de Chile. Later, she moved back to Hamburg to earn her master’s degree in organ and early music performance. She has taught in both Germany and Chile. Gevert has performed solo recitals as organist and harpsichordist and has performed with and conducted such ensembles and orchestras as the Berliner Bachsolisten, the Berliner Bachorchester, Leipziger Bachchor, La Giola, L’Arpa Festante, Musica Poetica, Chursaechsische Capelle, Estudio MusicAntigua, and Ars Antiqua Lipsiensis. In Chile, she has performed with Collegium Josquin, Capella Antiqua, Pentagrama, Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile, and Orquesta de Cámara Universidad Católica.

Hear Crescendo’s program “Cantos y Suspiros — Songs and Sighs” Saturday, February 4, at 4 p.m., at Trinity Church in Lakeville, Conn., and Sunday, February 5, at 4 p.m., at Saint James Place in Great Barrington. Purchase tickets here.

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