“Baroque music is balm to the voice”, was the wisdom an experienced voice coach shared with me. However, that baroque music is balm to the soul, too, was proved by the charming Purcell concert “One charming sundayafternoon” given yesterday at Markiezenhof. And this held true not only for the music iself, but first and foremost for the congenial and elegant way in which the baroque ensemble La Primavera and baritone Maarten Koningsberger raised this concert to a high artistic level. Koningsberger belongs to the rare category of nearly perfect singers who can rely on a tremendous musical potential for empathy combined with a formidable singing technique. Add to this Koningsberger’s winsome explanation of the various pieces of music, and it’s small wonder that the audience was breathlessly fascinated from the first note to the last.
The outstanding ensemble La Primavera, consisting of the Japanese violinist Yukie Yamaguchi, the American violinist Sara De corso, the Brazilian Regina Albanez and the Dutch Maaike Boekholt playing the viol, persuasively proved that music transcends all borders. The perfectly attuned musical parts resulted in a harmonic fraternization that government leaders ought to take their cue from. All pieces by Purcell were painted as marvellous miniatures and coalesced into a tasteful exhibition of refined pictures of beauty. It was striking how modestly all musicians behaved vis-à-vis the music executed. Everything was so genuinely Purcell, so pure, so authentic and yet so convincing and intense that each performance became a veritable jewel. With perfect diction Koningsberger sang all songs in such a refined way, his voice sounding natural and controlled at the same time. Even so, all songs were endowed with the apt dramatic impact: love and death became only more intense with each repetition of the motif. This special recital ended with “One Charming night gives more delight than a hundred lucky days”. This text deserves to be adapted to “One charming sundayafternoon gives more delight than a hundred lucky days”.
De Stem, 1 March 2010, Monique Meeuwisse
On this CD the ensemble excels in trio sonatas and a concerto by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767). The selection from Telemann’s work presented here is very attractive, also due to the ever varying combinations of recorder, oboe, violin, viol, cello, harpsichord and theorbo. The musicians have a feeling for detail and know how to keep attention going from beginning to end, due to the pleasant tempi. The recording by Harry de Winter, made in the chapel Achelse Kluis (Belgium), is impeccable. In short: highly recommended for the aficionado of baroque chamber music.
Okke Dijkhuizen in Kerk & Muziek, July/August 2009 on CD Telemann
On Sunday noon of 1 March La Primavera gave an impressive concert in the small Kolonie church at Wilhelminaoord. The ensemble, consisting of the soprano Annabella Marcos, the guitarist Regina Albanez and the viol player Maaike Boekholt, played with consuming passion Spanish music from the 16th and 17th century. The programme Ay Amor!, steeped in temperament, humour and sensuality, was brought by the musicians with total commitment. In between playing they shared with the audience interesting information about their instruments and about the music offered. That their performance was highly appreciated by the audience was proved by the long applause that was lavished on the trio.
www.kolonieconcerten.nl March 2009.
“This exceptionally enjoyable CD offers a cross section of Falconieri’s profane repertoire, performed by the international ensemble La Primavera.”
Codaex 2008 on CD Falconieri
“…this accessible music is simply a pleasure for the ears and deserves to be further explored…the rich voices of the Portuguese soprano Anabela Marcos and the American bass Mitchell Sandler blend felicitously with the lively accompaniment by La Primavera, thus presenting an informed sample of a forgotten gem of music history.”
Frans Jansen Klassieke Zaken 2008 on CD Falconieri
“Music emblematic of the elegant, sensuality-driven production of the seventeenth-century courts. A careful, refined performance by La Primavera, vocally as well as instrumentally, that enables us to discover the seductive timbres of the soprano Anabela Marcos and the bass Mitchell Sander.”
Sophie Roughol Qobuz 2008 on CD Falconieri
This attractive collection presents six of Telemann’s trio sonatas, but at the end of the program all the players join forces in one of the chamber concertos. In two of the trio sonatas, the harpsichord has an independent obbligato part, while in the others it is part of the continuo; only one scoring (recorder, violin and continuo) appears in more than one work.
The performances are characterised by a flexible elegance and lyricism. The players are sensitive to the rhetorical character of the music, but the phrases are shaped as much by dynamic nuance as by articulation. Their caesuras are rounded and graceful; even staccatos are gently incisive, rather than emphatic. Tempi seem conventionally moderate and steady, without ever degenerating into metronomic rigidity. The instrumental sonorities are gently sensuous, enhanced by the constant presence of the theorbo.
The recording is resonant yet crystal-clear: I have seldom heard a recording of baroque chamber music in which the harpsichord’s melodic contribution emerges so naturally as an equal strand in the texture. There are few bold gestures here, yet only on one occasion (the violin’s brilliant passages in the Concerto’s final Vivace) did I wish for a more extrovert, flamboyant approach. Even there, the players’ technical assuredness and natural musicality are never in doubt.
Throughout, they reveal a clear understanding of the music’s stylistic and affective demands, and they communicate the shape of the movements (and of individual phrases) with apparent spontaneity and captivating charm. A beautiful disc. URI GOLOMB on CD Telemann http://goldbergweb.com/en/discography/2007/54441.php 2007
« La Primavera is as good as its name. Vihuela, viola da gamba (both alto and bass) and renaissance harp, often driven by vocal passion, sounding together like springtime: light, airy, and bubbling with a hint of melancholy. When soprano Anabela Marcos sings, you feel transported into a cherry orchard, what with her beautiful little folksongs, some of them frivolous, sounding so warm, round and blushing, kissed by a springlike vibrato. (…) Perhaps for the first time it’s almost a full house in the hospice with aficionados of this ancient genre. (…) The sustained singing of the viola da gamba is merrily sprinkled by the rippling sounds of the harp. And the vihuela’s ornamentation enhances everything with silvery grace notes. (…) La Primavera heralds spring with musical purity.”
Lidy van der Spek, Leidsch Dagblad, 5 March 2007
“The baroque beauty is enhanced by the serene, intimate total sound of the ensemble…Also the Italian cantata about unrequited love was given an expressive and lively interpretation in Blokzijl. Händel’s culture may have become remote from ours, but I wish this salutary regaining of the past would have been without end…”
Dick Idema, de Stentor, 1 March 2005
“Literally, spring was there in November: music in a tingling, light, sun-drenched and heart-warming climate…The enthusiastic applause of the excited audience was rewarded with an encore…”
Frans van den Eijnden, Eindhovens Dagblad, 8 November 2004
“Some works by Barbarbare Strozzi are performed here in a sublime way. The whole ensemble is indeed outstanding, both in the instrumental and in the vocal pieces. (…) The length of the pieces is rather variable (…), but their sequence on the CD is pleasantly alternating. (…) For this kind of music La Primavera is ideally suited with two singers, recorder (…), viola da gamba, lute, harp, and harpsichord. The recorders used by Clémence Comte are copies of seventeenth-century instruments with a very distinct sound character.
Difficult to handle for fingering and intonation, but in Comte’s hands these recorders behave like living organisms, and technical problems seem non-existent. She and Johannette Zomer are the ear catchers in this ensemble. To sum it up: a highly original programme, terrific music and a fantastic performance. Inevitably this results in a top CD.”
Marcel Bijlo, Tijdschrift Oude Muziek, 2004, Nr.1
“The instrumental music is alternated with sweet, radiant or passionate and lamenting songs which keeps the concert surprisingly lively.”La Primavera is a group of musicians that plays together very well and with lots of expression and seem to escape the gravity by harmonizing seemingly effortlessly" Lidy van der Spek, Leidsch Dagblad, 29 March 2003
“Passion and melancholy, these two concepts were the overriding characteristics of the concert by soprano Johannette Zomer and baroque ensemble La Primavera…Active both for accompaniment as well as for performance in their own right, the four ladies showed the same qualities as the soprano… (Johannette Zomer) is, in a word, the best singer of ancient music that Holland has bred so far…Clémence Comte on the recorder deserves pride of place: she played expressively yet very solidly; with her royal, flexible tone she was a perfect match for Johannette Zomer’s voice in terms of equal power of expression.”
Marjolijn Sengers, Eindhovens Dagblad, 6 February 2003
“…the concert with the ensemble La Primavera had been sold out for weeks…The ensemble La Primavera took care of a fine basso continuo with a viola da gamba, a harp, and a lute, providing Zomer with an opportunity to excel.”
Marc Couwenbergh, Goudsche Courant, 6 February 2003
“Conducted precisely and dynamically by Clémence Comte, the ensemble seduces by virtue of its beautiful instrumental colours”
Christelle Cazaux ,Repertoire nr.163, January 2003, on CD Concerto delle Donne
« …La Primavera rediscovers five female composers who were famous in their own era, but were suppressed by prejudiced musicologists afterwards. Unduly, as proved by this stunning recording of fifteen instrumental and vocal pieces. The rich voice of Johannette Zomer entwines itself voluptuously around the luxurious passagework of Barbara Strozzi, Settimia and Francesca Caccini. Their extremely expressive and dramatic music is a perfect match for Monteverdi’s. The instrumental compositions by Isabella Leonarda and Marieta Prioli, too, are glowing. A wonderful CD!”
Thea Derks, Klassieke Zaken 2003, Vol. 23, Nr.2, on CD Concerto delle Donne.
“La Primavera interpreted the works with complete dedication and their enthusiasm was contagious. With the added benefit of the site, a tiny, cozy church with fantastic acoustics, the concert became a marvel… Sum total, “Concerto delle Donne” was the kind of concert where everything dovetails…The afterglow of this concert will stay with me for a long time.”
Astrid de Jager, “Nieuwsbrief Vrouw en Muziek”, 30 July 2002.
“La Primavera’s performance is excellent and genuinely musical…With La Primavera spring erupts in all its budding and colourful manifestations.”
Lidy van der Spek, Leidsch Dagblad, 26 April 2001
“Italian/Spanish early baroque in a top-class performance.”(…) “This CD is highly recommended…All honour to it”. Performance: 10, Recording: 10.
Louk van der Heide, Harlinger Courant, 15 February 2001 on CD Va Donna Ingrata
“La Primavera stands up for renaissance music”
Bjella Luttmer, Haarlems Dagblad, 29 May 2000
“Emotion was also rife during the recital by Robert Expert, an expressive countertenor with a beautiful timbre and a full voice (…) who reminds us of Gerard Lesne. His performance was framed with sonatas and chaconnes by Castello, Fontana, Vitali, Selma y Salaverde and Pandolfo Mealli. Admiration was in order for the three wonderful string instruments (viola da gamba – Maaike Boekholt, harp – Margit Schultheiss, and theorbo and guitar – Regina Albanez) as well as for the frills of the recorder by Clémence Comte, not to be outdone by a nightingale. The principle of a theme and its subsequent metamorphoses (diminutions, developments, and transpositions) was mirrored in the splendid baroque texts of the pieces by Peri (an exceptionally beautiful ‘Qual cadavero spirante’), D’India, Monteverdi, Montesardo, De Borja, Frescobaldi…”
ConcertoNet.com – The classical Music Network, Ambronay 23 September 2000
“The ensemble La Primavera thrills the audience”
S.Potier & S.Piveteau, Hebdo Vendée, 22 July 1999.
“This is a carefully assorted selection with an entertaining alternation of vocal and instrumental pieces, but first and foremost it is the quality of the performances that provides this CD with a distinctive edge of advantage in comparison with collection CDs of this kind”
Frits van der Waa, De Volkskrant, 15 May 1999, on cd Va Donna Ingrata
“This CD is a true frontpiece”
Marcel Bijlo, Tijdschrift Oude Muziek, 1999, Nr. 2, on cd Va Donna Ingrata
“This CD is bound to seduce…The style is impressive, Monteverdi, Peri, Frescobaldi, D’India, Sweelinck and Carissimi are perfectly done justice by the patchwork of historical instruments and two voices. After the ideal woman of courtly love, the focus is here on the worldly woman of the renaissance on the borderline with mannerism…”
Jacques Doucelin, Le Figaro, 29 January 1999, on cd Va Donna Ingrata
« The prize awarded by the public went with a compact majority of votes to second prizewinner La Primavera…Of all competitors this ensemble was by far the most ardent one.”
Winand van de Kamp, Haagsche Courant 6 October 1998