Les Délices to Feature Gambists in “The Angel and the Devil”

By Mike Telin

This week Les Délices, Cleveland’s French baroque music specialists, will present “The Angel and the Devil.” The program showcases music by the most famous pair of viola da gamba players of the eighteenth century, Marin Marais and Antoine Forqueray. Referred to respectively as The Angel and The Devil, their musical personalities will be brought to life by two modern-day gambists, Josh Lee and Emily Walhout. Oboists and recorder players Debra Nagy and Kathryn Montoya, baroque violinists Scott Metcalfe and Ingrid Matthews will join harpsichordist Michael Sponseller and the dueling gambists in music by Jean-Féry Rebel, François Couperin and Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

The concerts will be held on Thursday, April 23 at 7:00 pm at the Hudson Library and Historical Society, Saturday April 25 at 8:00 pm in William Busta Gallery in Cleveland, and Sunday, April 26 at 4:00 pm in Herr Chapel at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights. (Musicologist Susan McClary will give a pre-concert lecture on Sunday beginning at 3:00 pm). A special, free performance designed for kids will be held on Saturday, April 25 at 3:00 pm at Plymouth Church.

I asked gambists Emily Walhout and Josh Lee to share their insights about the Angel/Devil aspect of the program.

Emily Walhout: I think Marais’ pieces are perfect little gems of balanced French music, full of grace, poise and beautiful tunes. When I think about his music I always correct my posture. I want to stand up and take a dancer’s pose. And his music is perfectly suited to the gamba — everything is so comfortable.

Josh Lee: Marais was Jean-Baptiste Lully’s protégé, and I can’t help thinking that a little bit of Lully rubbed off on him. I don’t have a good sense of who he was as a person, but as a composer and musician he was top-notch. I do consider Marais to be the best teacher I’ve ever had. The music that we have of his today includes his fingerings and bowings — it’s like sitting in the same room with him. Everyone talks about how sweetly he played, and his music is very melodious.

Emily Walhout: With the music of Forqueray, there is still the grace and poise but there’s something less innocent. He shows more emotions. His music is technically more difficult, and the keys he chooses are a little more twisted and harder to grab under the hand. His music is not quite as comfortable to play as that of Marais. I feel like it’s more devilish.  

Read the rest of the preview at ClevelandClassical.com.
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