“Esperar, Sentir, Morir” – Le Po

This evening I attended the latest concert in the Miller Theatre Early Music Series, presented at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Times Square.  The guest artists tonight were Vincent Dumestre and Le Po

7 thoughts on ““Esperar, Sentir, Morir” – Le Po

  1. I can definitely symphatise with the bad acoustics of the building. When my church got renovated, the priest sent the choir and band upstairs. The choir and band did their best to project their voice, but it just sounded so wrong. In the end, the priest had to admit to his mistake and allowed the group to move back down.
    The building can really do injustice to the singers and musicians. Fortunately you are familiar with the musicians. For those who aren’t, they may discredit the musician as well as the building!

  2. Obviously we had very different reactions to this performance. (I just read Lebas’ blog post.) Nobody in my vicinity was trying to follow the texts with small flashlights.
    I agree that this ensemble presents potentially very exciting insights into this music. But I also think that when a piece of art combines text and music in a way that is supposed to be mutually supporting, an audience not conversant with the language of the text should be afforded the opportunity to follow a translation during the performance. In this case, text was provided but illumination was not. While one can have a certain level of appreciation of the performance without knowing what the performers are singing, appreciation may be enhanced by knowledge of text.
    This is not, after all, opera where sets, costumes, pantomime, etc., may communicate the plot in broad outline so that one might forego simultaneous translation. (And even so, major opera houses now provide simultaneous titles precisely to enable audiences to be better informed.)
    I persist in thinking that these were fine performances partially sabotaged by an inappropriate acoustical setting. This music was not conceived to be played in such a large, resonant space.

  3. Very interesting comments all-round.
    I’m a little confused that the acoustical properties of the church seem to be in question. Indeed, they are among the finest of their kind in the world, and this church is renowned for it’s particularly fine liturgical music.
    The problem(s) highlighted by this last concert, however, were the result of poor judgement on the behalf of the concert producers. A smaller, more intimate and, most importantly, secular venue is absolutely essential for this kind of performance. In this incredible space, however, I could not but laugh (cringe) at the sense of irony thus produced! Let’s hope that, in the future, Miller Theater appropriately matches their programs to the relevant venue!

  4. The acoustics of this church are excellent for Renaissance polyphony and the like. They are not particularly fine for music intended to be performed in smaller spaces. I commented on the performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 performed there on New Year’s weekend – the polyphony of that music was conceived for a smaller, less resonant space, and so it was muddled in some of the big moments. Because the Monteverdi Vespers are a big piece, and they were composed shortly before he became music director in San Marco in Venice, people assume they were written for a large space. But they were actually composed while he was still a ducal composer in a smaller town and was writing primarily for the palace, not the church, so would have been conceived for a chapel, not a large church or cathedral.
    Great care should be taken in matching music to space.
    I have no religious objections to singing secular music in a large church, although of course the result is quite ironic – my objections are entirely musical.

  5. I agree that appropriate music performed in a large church space can be marvelous, and I’ve had wonderful musical experiences hearing Renaissance polyphony and other appropriate musical styles in this and other churches. But some music is just wrong for the space.
    For example, I’ve been to concerts by the NY Philharmonic at St. John the Divine. Total mismatch of music and space. The results are consistently absurd….

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