Baroque music composed for the synagogue and beyond is performed with an eye for authenticity in 'The Songs of Solomon'
By DIANA GERSHMAN
The Barrocade Orchestra and Proseti Della Qinta are feeling nostalgic this month with their upcoming concert The Songs of Solomon. Using period instruments and baroque tunes, they'll be sending us back to the Renaissance. The musical score varies from secular to religious, though all the compositions are authentic pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries.
"I read a lot about the composers," says Yizhar Karshon, curator of the Barrocade Orchestra. "I wanted to see the environment that they lived in, the musical style in Italy at the time, and which instruments would be used at the time."
Musical instruments have evolved over the centuries as concert halls grew and orchestras needed to produce a higher sound quality for their massive audiences. Despite an expected large attendance, the entire orchestra has suited itself with Baroque style period instruments in order to produce a sound equivalent to that made hundreds of years ago. Karshon says he is confident that the use of period instruments will not harm the acoustics.
"For me, it's very clear," he says. "Baroque music cannot work with modern instruments. The sound perception is something else. The sound is much richer with the overtone. It's rougher with the early instruments, and doesn't have the piecing sound that modern instruments have. The compositions work better with instruments that were from that time because they were composed with these kinds of instruments."
Karshon adds that some instruments have never altered. "It depends... some have not become modern." He named the lute as an example. "The lute has a very rich sound that in a very big hall will get lost but in a smaller venue, it gives the right sound for this kind of music."
Proseti Della Qinta (a.k.a. Prophets of the Perfect Fifth) complements the Barrocade Orchestra with its classical style. Elan Roten, who heads and performs in the five-man singing group, explained that Proseti Della Qinta aims to replicate choirs from the Baroque period.
"We are only male voices and we are a soloist group," says Roten. "In the 16th century, most of the repertoire was composed for soloists and only men. Not to mention, only men were allowed to sing in the synagogue."
The event features music by Jewish composer Salomone de' Rossi in addition to secular works by Claudio Monteverdi and Giovanni Gabrieli. The concert introduces audiences to Jewish prayers sung in a Baroque manner. According to Roten, the contrast between Jewish prayers and Baroque mainstream compositions is remarkably similar.
"Most of the music sung will be by Rossi," he says. "He wrote a lot of secular music but as a Jewish person, he also wrote music for the synagogue. The style is in the same school of music." The combination of male vocals with period instruments gives this event an antique flair, unique in the music scene.
The Songs of Solomon takes the stage on Feb. 28 at the Einav Center in Tel Aviv at 8:30 p.m., on March 4 at the YMCA in Jerusalem and at the Weill Auditorium in Kfar Shmaryahu on March 5. Ticket prices vary. For the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem shows call (054) 449-8792, for Kfar Shmaryahu call (09) 956-9430
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