It was a terrible shock for the performers of Il Dono della Vita eterna, oratorio by Antonio Draghi (1634-1700), this Friday September 22 in the Ambronay abbey church. Victim of a heart attack, baritone Alejandro Meerapfel died suddenly during a performance. He played the “character” of God the father, among his instrumentalist and singer friends from the Cappella Mediterranea, under the direction of Leonardo Garcia Alarcon.
Upset, the latter testified to his long companionship with Alejandro Meerapfel: “Alejandro was an angel on earth. Before the concert, his smile and good humor filled the souls of the entire artistic team and the Festival. We will miss him but he will be with us forever,” he paid tribute in a press release released by the Ambronay team, also deeply marked by this brutal death.
The atmosphere of the festival, friendly and warm, was obviously altered, even if the concerts of this second weekend (1) also offered the public comforting, even light emotions. Particularly when the composers of yesterday and their performers today manage, by means of notes, rhythms and other musical ingredients, to recreate in a very convincing way the sounds of the world around us.
On the menu, salads to music!
“Tron, tron… Ti pi tipi tin, pirlin…”; “Fan, frel-le-rel-re-le-ran fan, fan”; “Tropele, tropele, tras!” » So many onomatopoeias and mouth noises in La Justa (“the joust”), a very colorful work by Diego Ortiz (1510-1570)! On this Friday afternoon, in front of the audience at the Salle Monteverdi, the four singers of the Spanish ensemble Cantoriá and the three instrumentalists who accompany them multiply their pranks (2). Inscribed in the words as well as in the music of this piece orchestrating the struggle between good and evil (just that!), these little jewels of humor create an atmosphere of very organized cacophony, where the delicious timbre of soprano Inés Alonso hovers. .
A little earlier, an equally enjoyable bouquet of “zon, zon zon” and “dindirdin, dindirdin” punctuated another piece on the concert program, El Fuego (fire), born from the pen of Mateao Flecha “El Viejo” (1481-1553). The Cantoriá ensemble – which has recorded a very nice record under the Ambronay label – strives to reveal the repertoire of a Spain at the crossroads between the Renaissance and the Baroque era, fond of these ensaladas, musical salads mixing the sacred and the profane, the serious and the parodic, laughter and tears. More often than not, imitations of the sounds of everyday life are included: animal cries, the clash of weapons, the ringing of bells and even a poorly tuned guitar… Quite an art to reproduce them with naturalness and playfulness, like a wink or an outstretched hand to the delighted listener.
Our masters, the birds
Birds are undoubtedly among the musicians of nature most prized by composers. Their songs, vocalizations and trills are all melodious examples for the human voice but also the flute, the oboe or the violin. Saturday September 23, flautist Dorothee Oberlinger summoned an entire aviary to the Ambronay abbey church. In the company of the excellent instrumentalists of her Ensemble 1700 and Bruno de Sá, a sopranist whose voice likes to soar beyond the clouds, she burst into coos and warbles. In a completely peaceful contest between his instrument (his instruments in reality, from the highest to the lowest) and the vocal cords of the singer, both constantly pushing their limits.
If the evening abandoned itself a little too much to purely virtuoso exhilaration, it also concealed its moments of meditative grace shrouded in melancholy, as in Acis and Galatea, Handel’s marvelous opera with an elegiac climate: “For me alone, this song is painful, because, desperate and abandoned, Oh God! I cannot find peace,” laments the young shepherd Acis, calling out to “the joyful bird, flying and singing from flower to flower.”