Baroque and happy 

Chamber quartet La Modestine premieres pre-1750 music at the Brackendale Art Gallery

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Germany and England Marc Destrube of La Modestine says the program of 17th-century music they play has unexpected, surprising turns.
  • PHOTO submitted
  • Germany and England Marc Destrube of La Modestine says the program of 17th-century music they play has unexpected, surprising turns.

It is a rare enough event for a classical music group to make its debut in the Sea to Sky region.

But violinist Marc Destrubé has had a longtime relationship with the Brackendale Art Gallery, and is very happy for his new group La Modestine to have its world premiere there on Friday, Sept. 23.

"The four of us went on tour this past February on Vancouver Island and we had just a great time playing together and we clicked very well. We'd all played together over the years in different groups," Destrubé says.

"We decided we want to do more."

Along with Destrubé, La Modestine is violinist Linda Melsted, viola da gamba player Natalie Mackie, and harpsichordist Michael Jarvis.

The group's show — Sudden Beauty: Extraordinary music from 17th-century Germany and England — presents works by Henry Purcell, Johann Vierdanck, Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Adam Reincken.

"Reincken and Buxtehude were both great friends and big influences on Bach. They were both organists in northern Germany," Destrubé says.

"Bach once walked 200 kilometres to Lübeck in order to hear a series of concerts by Buxtehude. Bach was supposed to stay for a few days but he ended up staying several months because he wanted to learn from the great man."

Destrubé explains that La Modestine formed partly to enable the players to perform music of their choosing and partly because the friends wanted to play more together.

"Natalie came up with the Sudden Beauty title and when I asked her about it, she said the title came to her as she was listening to the pieces and how unexpectedly the harmonies evolve in them, like walking through her part of town and suddenly being surprised by a ravishing flower bursting through the concrete sidewalk. I thought that was rather beautiful," Destrubé says.

"The music is like that. It sounds like 'normal' baroque music harmonies and then it does these strange things. I imagine Purcell with a glass of whisky on his desk as he composed. The music takes surprising turns."

Destrubé notes that at the time, Germany was recovering from the 30 Years' War and Britain was recovering from puritanism.

"They were both ages in which, politically, the two countries were recovering from repression. They were letting loose," he says.

"There was a sense of relief, that one could do anything, one could experiment and explore... composers at the time were given free rein to explore and weren't tied to church forms. A real sense in music of being liberated."

The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available from the BAG or Xoco chocolate on Cleveland Ave. in Squamish.

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