by Daniel Hathaway
Now that the greater Cleveland area can boast housing two significant organs tuned in mean-tone temperament, early music fans can enjoy the unusual opportunity of hearing a pair of nearly back-to-back recitals featuring the celebrated cornettist Bruce Dickey and his distinguished associate, organist Lieuwe Tamminga. Dickey and Tamminga will perform on Friday evening, October 10 at 7:30 pm in Fairchild Chapel at Oberlin College and again on Sunday afternoon, October 12 at 2:00 pm at the Church of the Covenant in University Circle.
The programs will include Renaissance music by Giovanni Maria Trabaci, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Ascanio Trombetti, Samuel Scheidt, Josquin des Prez, Gioseffo Guami, Giovanni Gabrieli, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Santiago de Murcia & Gaetano Greco.
The Fairchild organ was built in 1981 by John Brombaugh. The Covenant instrument, the work of the firm of Richards, Fowkes Co., is more recent, having been dedicated in May of 2013. Both organs eschew equal or “well” tuning systems in favor of the “just” tuning system common in the late middle ages and Renaissance which produces pure intervals in a limited number of keys.
That tuning system favors a partnership with the cornetto, a curved wooden instrument usually covered with leather, fingered like a recorder but with a small, trumpet-like mouthpiece that formed the upper voices of Renaissance wind bands and doubled the upper voice parts in church music, most famously in Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610.
The agility of the instrument and its ability to play florid melodic lines with the quality and power of a singing voice are illustrated in Dickey and Tamminga’s recent recording, La Bella Minuta: Florid Songs for Cornetto Around 1600 (reviewed in this publication.)
Dickey was urged to take up the cornetto by his colleague Michael Lynn when the two were undergraduates at Indiana University. He initially resisted, but finally gave in to the allure of the instrument when he was sidelined with a touch football injury (read that story in a 2010 interview with Dickey in this publication). He eventually relocated to Bologna, Italy, where he formed the Renaissance wind band Concerto Palatino with sackbut player Charles Toet.
Lieuwe Tamminga presides over historic organs dating from 1471-75 and 1596 at the Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna, a position he shares with Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini.
Bruce Dickey will also be featured in four upcoming performances of the Monteverdi Vespers with Apollo’s Fire beginning on October 31.
The Oberlin and Cleveland performances are free. Dickey will also give free master classes on Wednesday, October 8 at 6:30 pm in Stull Recital Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory and on Thursday, October 9 at 12:30 in Harkness Chapel on the Case Western Reserve University campus.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com October 7, 2014.
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