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Fêtes Galantes
Pyatt Hall (at the VSO School of Music)
Vancouver, BC
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Fêtes Galantes
Fêtes Galantes

It sounds like a story from The Voice, a shy instrument treated like a poor step-child comes into its own and blows the competition away. But thats what happened to the pardessus de viole, (part osue) a small baroque string instrument invented for wealthy women amateurs who would NEVER be seen playing the violin.

Why did this little fiddle spark such a Cinderella story? Youll understand if you come to Fétes Galantes: A Celebration of Small but Mighty Baroque Strings, and the Women who Played Them (Saturday, September 10, at 7:30 PM, at Pyatt Hall, VSO School of Music, 843 Seymour St., Vancouver). Tina Chancey has brought three tiny, antique string instruments, plus fellow pardessus players Annalisa Pappano and Joanna Blendulf, John Mark Rozendaal on viol and Webb Wiggins on harpsichord, to recreate the heady atmosphere of Versailles. Theyre playing music by Couperin, Marais, Boismortier and Corelli, as well as an intriguing 18th c. chamber version of VivaldisSpring from theFour Seasons, and the first modern performance of Antoine Forquerays fiendishly difficult bass viol music, both featuring pardessus.

In 18th century France, the violin was a brash young upstart and everyone wanted to try it. But it was thought to be too crass for aristocratic women musicians, so another instrument was invented for them--the pardessus, a small hybrid violin and viola da gamba (cousin of the violin family), played on the lap with an underhand bow grip. On the surface, not very impressive.

A funny thing happened, though. The pardessus was so tiny and sweet, so versatile and easy to play, and had such a brilliant sound that it attracted all sorts of people, from orchestral cellists to small children, to middle class young women looking for husbands. It enjoyed a rich and varied popularity until the French Revolution, when anything aristocratic suddenly became very unpopular.

Tina Chancey is an early musician from Virginia with a particular love of tiny bowed strings, and one of a handful of professional pardessus players in the United States. She says, I started playing it in 1984 in my husbands baroque group, HESPERUS. We needed a violinist but couldnt afford to hire another person so Scott said, Do you have some viol that might work? I looked around, found out about the pardessus, and with $2000 my father left me, ordered one from a young instrument maker who carved my fathers head on the scroll, looking dashing in a three-cornered hat. Tina played her homegrown pardessus until 1990, when William Monical, currently of Salem, Oregon, found her an original instrument from 1745. In this concert she plays that historic pardessus, as well as other small antique viols from 1709 and 1740.

The pardessus is a borrower by custom, Chancey says. Well be playing music for violin, bass viol and flute, all sorts of French and Italian music, sonatas, suites, theatrical music and concertos, to give people a sense of the excitement, the intrigue, the energy of the 18th century French court.

COUPERIN with John Mark Rozendaal and Charles Weaver https://vimeo.com/156210085
LECLAIR  with Webb Wiggins and Susie Napper https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJlhJsvP_48
BOISMORTIER with the Trio Pardessus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVEYRKH4T8w

ABOUT TINA CHANCEY: Director of the world-traveled early/traditional music fusion group Hesperus since 1979, her particular specialty is the pardessus de viole; with support from the National Endowment for the Arts she presented pardessus debut concerts at Carnegie Recital Hall and the Kennedy Center, and has released four pardessus recordings, most recently Couperin Concerts Royaux in February, 2016. She is the director of an International Pardessus Conference, consisting of scholarly papers, lecture demonstrations and concerts, to take place at the Boston Early Music Festival in June, 2017. www.tinachancey.com

Tina Chancey returned home in quiet splendor last night. Playing together with easy rapport and mature musicianship [;;her ensemble];; brought the antique music brilliantly to life.  
Cleveland Plain Dealer

She played quick movements deftly and there was much to admire in her stylish ornamentation and in her careful shaping of the adagios and sarabandes.  
New York Times

To hear this instrument played by a specialist with Chanceys proficiency was a rare and delightful experience.
Washington Post

Her performance was both elegant and exciting, with a perfect feel for the period.


Pyatt Hall (at the VSO School of Music) (View)
843 Seymour Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 3L4


Arts > Performance
Music > Classical

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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