Songs and Dances of Renaissance Italy – Madregalia and the Pastyme Consort

Jeff DeMarco’s Madregalia and Pastyme Consort are among of the most interesting musical events on the Monterey Peninsula, as they so dramatically demonstrated on June 10, 2017, at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Carmel. DeMarco plans each detail of his concerts so that every moment has entertainment, education, inspiration and delight. DeMarco is comfortable conducting, playing multiple instruments, and educating his audience with wit and drama derived from his vast understanding of Renaissance Music.

As artistic director, it is clear DeMarco has created a flow of music where there is constant variety of detail and interest. The evening flowed easily from consort, instrumental solos, vocal solos, choral singing and vocal duets. Each piece highlighted a Renaissance instrument, or a unique combination of sounds such as the use of sacbutts. Zanetti’s Aria del gran duca was a highlight for the audience to experience unique sounds not heard in everyday life or from modern orchestras. The unique sound of the sacbutt gave the consort a mellowness and warmth. The addition of this instrument was one of the many highlights of the evening. Kristen Thompson’s perky xylophone solo by Mainerio had bell-like qualities that were played clearly and evenly adding to the sheer unusual joy of the Renaissance xylophone. A recorder ensemble by Guami displayed the purity of the woodwinds tones and their lovely intonation. The consort accompanied the choir and soloists with precision and care throughout the evening.

The chorus enthusiastically sang with understanding and rhythmic vitality. Each singer understood the text and musical phrasing DeMarco had given them. The virtuosic Monteverdi piece, Lasciate i monti was the choir’s best performance of the evening and demonstrated their wonderful abilities in florid lines and complicated phrases. Throughout the evening members of the choir sang as though they understood Renaissance dance. Their enthusiasm convinced their audience that singing and dancing were inseparable. The choir was comfortable with abrupt key changes and changing meters. They quickly moved from legato singing to rhythmic complexity while easily understanding text and phrasing.

DeMarco chose solo repertoire for his solo singers well. The solos were placed well with each soloist’s range giving each of them a chance to shine. The duet sung by Jody Lee and Elaine DeMarco was perhaps one of the most satisfying highlights of the evening. The singing and phrasing were excellent in every way and the blending of their voices was natural and beautiful. The accompanying ensemble was professional and elegant as the consort listened intently to the soloists. Laura Frank sang Poiche in van by Cara and showed the warmth of her mezzo-soprano voice, which carried so effectively in All Saints’ Church. Her dramatic and joyful interpretation added to our understanding of the vitality of Renaissance music. Frank Rabb sang the bass aria So ben mi ch’a bon tempo securely with his vivid baritone quality and excellent acting ability. Mark Stevens, tenor, sang Vi ricorda from Monteverdi’s L’orfeo. This dramatic and complex aria was presented with a solid understanding of Monteverdi’s unique place in the musical world.

Jeff DeMarco never missed a moment to entertain and educate us with his passion for Renaissance Music. His parting statement to the audience was to invite the audience to view the wonderful consort instruments up close so that we might all share in the world of unique sounds and creativity of the Renaissance musician. Jeff DeMarco’s Madregalia and Pastyme Consort are truly one of the treasures of the Monterey Peninsula. Thank you to Jeff DeMarco, Madrigalia and Pastyme Consort!

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Archived in these categories: All Saints' Church, Baroque, Choral.
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