Duo Maresienne

On Sunday, April 30, Somerville Museum presented the last of this season’s Early Music Afternoons with Duo Maresienne.  Now in their 28th season, the duo continued their mission to expose audiences to music written for lute, theorbo, viola da gamba, and early guitars. They presented newly found and published pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries. 

The program started with Solo 9 in e minor, one of the 12 Telemann Fantaisies pour la basse de violle recently discovered in a German palace near Hannover and published within the past year. Carol Lewis played its four contrasting, virtuosic movements on viola da gamba with exceptional dexterity, while Olav Chris Henriksen interwove the baroque lute’s basso continuo. Next, Henriksen performed the contemplative, labyrinthine Fantasie in a minor by Silvius Leopold Weiss. Published in 2010, the piece comes from a facsimile manuscript of lute tablature from the Rohrau castle in Austria. He then played a dreamlike Presto by Weiss. Lewis responded with Telemann’s elaborate three-movement Fantasie 7 in g minor for viola da gamba. Henriksen continued with Ernst Gottlieb Baron’s Fantasie in C major on baroque lute. Gottlieb Baron’s buoyant three-movement Concerto in C major closed the first half, gaily combining viola da gamba and baroque lute and leaving the audience in uplifted spirits.

After intermission Telemann’s three-movement Fantasie 11 in d minor displayed Lewis’s interpretive brilliance, each stirring movement enacted with solemnity and consummate musicianship. Next, Carl Friedrich Abel’s three-movement Sonata in F major for viola da gamba and basso continuo—in this case, baroque lute—carried the audience into a languid, sonorous landscape that made one reflect on the vast expanses of time travelled by each musical phrase. Twenty-eight of Abel’s virtuosic sonatas, including the Sonata in F major, were discovered just a few years ago in Poland and published within the past year. Observing the closed eyes and rapt attention of the listeners, one could not help but wonder, who were the last people to actually hear this newly awoken, but living, vibrant music?

Rudolph Straube’s charming Fantasie in C Major and Tempo di Minuet followed, providing concertgoers with its last baroque lute solos by Henriksen. The audience was captivated. Also published within the past year, Andreas Lidl’s three-movement Sonata in C Major closed the program. Here, Lewis’ viola da gamba and Henriksen’s baroque lute gave a stunning performance that once again delivered delightful melodies and harmonies encased in complex, baroque counterpoint. Overall, the duo delivered a refreshing program filled with unearthed musical enchantments that was an ideal component to a perfect Sunday afternoon. 

Duo Maresienne is named after the great French Baroque composer and gambist, Marin Marais. Their next project is a collaboration with Capella Clausura and the Ken Pierce Baroque Dance Company on a program of French music for choir, viola da gamba, theorbo, baroque guitar, and baroque dance. It will be performed on Sunday, May 14 in Newton.