Classical review

Phoenix Ensemble Napolitan Baroque St. Andrew’s Church, December 16.

Christmas tree (photo credit: screenshot)
Christmas tree
(photo credit: screenshot)
Believe it or not, there still are Baroque works that can be presented as a First Performance some 500 years after they were composed.
The composers’ names of these works, too, such as Caresana, Falconieri, Orazio Michi, are known (if at all) mostly to specialists.
After having been dead and forgotten ever since the 17th century, they have now been resurrected to vibrant life by the Phoenix Ensemble, conducted by Myrna Herzog, with singers Sharon Rostorf, Michal Okon, Yael Izkovich, Jacob Halperin and Guy Pelc. This Christmas music was performed, presumably, to celebrate the lighting of the first Hanukka candle (at home, before going to church for the concert).
Cristoforo Caresana’s cantata La Tarantella surprised by portraying this mischievous critter less vivaciously than usual, but more Passacaglia-like. This had the advantage of letting one become aware of its many original polyphonic intricacies.
Andrea Falconieri’s Battalia emerged as a veritable battle of the strings against the contrasting recorder flute. The same composer’s La suave melodia, with its unabashed lyricism, performed with almost seductive sensitivity, seemed to forecast the Romantics of some 200 years later.
Above all, the singers and instrumentalists obviously seemed to have a good time with this fascinating music. So did the audience.