Piffaro invites a consort of ladies to celebrate Love, Lust, Life

Piffaro invited Trio Eos to join them in their spring program Love, Lust, Life: Ce Moys de May, a wide-ranging spectrum of the art of the madrigal, motet, dance, and chanson from Guillaume DuFay (c. 1397-1474) to Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (c.1554 – 1609).

The program is arranged not in chronological order, but by theme. Starting with the first stirrings of spring and ending with love conquering all, the musical journey is an entertaining romp but, at the same time, a well-planned journey through two centuries of musical development. Even the consort of ladies which the Duke of Ferrar formed for his court in 1580 (Concerto della donne) is reflected in the guest trio of female voices.

Trio Eos blended so well in their first song, “Ce Moys de Mai,” that it was almost hard to tell which voice was which. Michele Kennedy has a pure soprano and sang with very little vibrato. Her clarity, especially in Claude de Sermisy’s (c. 1490-1562) setting of “Content Desir” with four recorders, sounded as light as a boy soprano. Jessica Beebe, whose fans know her ability to hit high notes on a pianissimo dynamic, also sang in a very low register, sometimes singing below the higher range of Maren Montalbano’s rich mezzo voice in “O Dolcezz’ Amarissime d’Amore” by Luzzasco Luzzaschi (c. 1545 – 1607).

Each of the three singers sang solos with various configurations of instruments. Maren Montalbano did an outstanding job with her lusty solo “Mon amy m’avoit promis” by Nino le Petit (fl. c. 1500-1520), holding her own against a trio of krummhorns. It was harder to hear the mezzo voice in the “Amor è foco”  where three dulcians seemed to have the advantage of dynamic force, yet the antiphonal performance with response by the two sopranos and slide trumpets was beautifully executed.

There were some wide ranges of sonorities in the instrumental pieces, from a quiet lute (Grant Herreid) and recorder (Priscilla Herreid) duet to a wild and boisterous “Ballo Francese Amoroso” published by Giovanni Ambrosio (late 15th century) which included the surprisingly lyrical hurdy gurdy part played by Bob Wiemkin. 

Maren Montalbano, Michele Kennedy, and Jessica Beebe of Trio Eos. Photo by Becky Oehlers

The second half of the program started with the three singers’ voices singing “Rejouyssons nous” by Cipriano de Rore (c. 1515-1565) from the loft in the rear of the church, creating an illusion of voices from the heavens.

As the program worked up to a lusty finale of two pieces by Orazio Vecchi (1550 – 1605), the trio of singers abandoned their restraint in “Amor opra che puoi” with lovely trills and ornaments soaring above the lute accompaniment. Then two shawms, dulcian, pipe and tabor, and two slides accompanied “Amor Vittorioso” by Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (c. 1554 – 1609), leaping into the seventeenth century with panache and vigor.

Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, presents Love, Lust, Life: Ce Moys de May with the female vocal ensemble Trio Eos, Friday, May 10, 2019 at 7:30 pm at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 23 S 38th St, Philadelphia; Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 7:30 at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia; and Sunday May 12, 2019 at 3 pm at Immanuel Church, Highlands, 2400 West 17th Street, Wilmington, Delaware. Tickets are $29-$49 (youth and full-time students free with ID) and are available at piffaro.org or by calling (215) 235-8469.

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