by Daniel Hathaway
“We could have chosen all Transylvanian music,” quipped artistic director Kenneth Slowik during the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute faculty concert in Warner Concert Hall last Friday evening, “but we decided to go for quality: Austria.” This year’s BPI theme focused on music by composers who lived and worked in lands touched by the Danube River, with special attention to the exotic string music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. In addition to his Battalia, student and faculty ensembles regaled a large and appreciative audience with music by Georg Muffat, Emperor Leopold I, Johann Joseph Fux and the young Joseph Haydn.
Though most of the repertory on Friday evening fell into the “not often played nor heard” category, Biber’s battle piece had the distinction of appearing on two area concert programs last week (it was also on the menu for ChamberFest Cleveland at Mixon Hall on Wednesday evening). This short and entertaining Baroque tone poem from 1673 depicts a motley and dissolute group of soldiers who get drunk and sing different songs at the same time, go into battle then lament their fallen fellows. An ensemble of three violins, four violas, two cellos, theorbo and harpsichord led by principal violinist Julie Andrijeski created cacophony worthy of Charles Ives and plausible battle sounds with dramatic snap pizzicatos. [Read more…]