Baroque moves

Lina Tur Bonet hopes to ‘make people vibrate to the music’

Lina Tur Bonet  (photo credit: PABLO F. JUÁREZ)
Lina Tur Bonet
(photo credit: PABLO F. JUÁREZ)
If you are of the opinion that Baroque music is not exactly the sexiest form of entertainment around, you may very well not be in a minority. While many enjoy the early form of classical music that was all the rage around Europe from the beginning of the 17th century for around 150 years, it is hard to equate the often jolly sounding lilting sounds of the post-Renaissance Era with, say, the gyrating disco strut of Michael Jackson, or Madonna at her most provocative and sexually explicit.
Perhaps Lina Tur Bonet could tilt that perception a mite, when she comes over here shortly to hook up with the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra (JBO) for a clutch of concerts. The three-date The Brandenburgs circuit takes in concerts at the Greek Orthodox Church in Haifa, on November 2 (1 p.m.), Hechal Hatarbut in Tel Aviv on November 3 (8 p.m.), and closing at the YMCA in Jerusalem on November 4 (8 p.m.) in the JBO’s 2019-20 season curtain-raiser. The repertoire takes in Bach’s Brandenburg concertos Nos. 3, 4 and 5, Concerto Grosso No. 6 by Handel, with Tur Bonet joined by compatriot harpsichord player Dani Espasa and JBO soloists.
I was a little late with my call for our telephone interview and I thanked the Spanish violinist for making herself available sometime after our scheduled slot. She did not make a fuss about that and I remarked that flexibility, in her professional life and the repertoire she performs and records, has become a trademark of her successful career. Since her earliest music-making years, she has worked with a large and varied array of artistic cohorts, taking in Baroque, Romantic and Contemporary music with equal aplomb.
“I play the modern and Baroque violin, so I have to be flexible to understand the different ways of playing,” she observes. “I have to understand the music and the players I play with.”
Her bio to date corroborates that eclecticism claim, and has proven her stamina by, for example, performing the complete 15-work cycle of “Mystery Sonatas” by 16th century Austrian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber in Vienna in a single day. Jumping into more contemporary climes, she has played Quartet for the End of Times by French 20th century composer Olivier Messiaen, but her musical heart really belongs to Bach.
Tur Bonet has been casting her stylistic net far and wide for some time now. She says it keeps her on the ball.
“What is interesting for me is that there are so many different styles of music, and each needs a different approach and different mentality and sensibility,” she explains.
That also offers added value.
“I think that, when you play different kinds of music, that allows you get into different cultures too,” she remarks. “That connects with different expressions of the human being.”
Being an internationally acclaimed musician also helps in that regard.
“We travel a lot, and we get to meet many different people and cultures and, in music, it is very interesting to experience all of these things,” she says.
No one would argue that the Spaniard fails on the technique score, but she says that she primarily endeavors to convey the human side of the art form.
“We have all the different kinds of classical music,” she says. “Romantic music has a way of expression which is more about feelings. In Romantic music, it is more about the ego, and in Baroque music, it is more about the general feeling.”
That, for the violinist, connects with a street level understanding of life. “You have to understand how the people feel – how they love, hate, their troubles or whatever. It is different in every time of history,” she explains.
Tur Bonet received a solid musical education almost from the cradle.
“My father was my first teacher. He was a clavier player and I started when I was three, or even younger. He taught me to read music and solfège [sight-reading and aural skills]. I could read music before I could read words,” she laughs.
The violinist is also one of the more active onstage performers around.
“At that time, I was also a dancer. I was supposed to become a professional dancer. So the first contact with music was expressing with my body.”
Tur Bonet has maintained that corporeal approach, and is a very dynamic performer. At her concerts, she is the complete antithesis of the stock classical musician, burning up the calories as she puts body and soul into her electrifying renditions.
So, if you are – understandably – one of the many who consider live renditions of Baroque music as largely static affairs, after the JBO’s coming concerts you may have yourself a little rethink.
“I try to be very different in the way of playing, technically, and also musically, but in the end, it is all the same,” says Tur Bonet. “We need to communicate and to make people vibrate to the music.”
Prepare to be duly moved.
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