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Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

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July 13, 2005

Fresh Ears

Unfortunately, I often need reminding that music does not follow a linear path of evolution. After developing "structures" and "rules," music of the 21st Century is not necessarily more experimental than music of, say, the 17th Century. Baroque violinist Andrew Manze and harpsichordist Richard Egarr are the perfect reminder for me this week on Saint Paul Sunday.

They begin their program with a sonata by Handel and a toccata by Bach, two composers whom everyone else copied for compositional style and structure. Then they turn to a little known composer named Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi. In the two pieces by Pandolfi that Manze and Egarr play, each musician has a turn at improvising. There are also moments of suspense—when one musician holds a note for what seems like an eternity while I squirm trying to figure out how the harmony will resolve. It's amazing how, with an open mind and a fresh set of ears, old music can sound new, experimental and daring.

Posted by Suzanne Schaffer at July 13, 2005 9:55 AM



I greatly enjoyed hearing the Bach toccata on baroque violin this morning.

But it came nowhere near to exciting me like the first (and every) time I heard fourteen year old Vanessa-Mae play an arrangement by Mike Batt of the same piece on her 1995 CD, "The Violin Player." Listeners not familiar with that CD should give it a try.

By Larry Vanice at July 17, 2005 11:11 AM


This was so inspiring. I stopped my computer work and just sat in awe until the end of the show. Hearing these musicians push the limits of their instruments, feeling their facial expression through the attacks and the rests, and their body language in their expression . .

By Lisa Schuttler at July 17, 2005 12:04 PM


Wonderful program, nicely played. Bravo.

Also thanks, Larry, for the tip on "The Violin Player". I'll pick it up.

John Niesyn
Fairfield, CT

By John Niesyn at July 17, 2005 10:41 PM


Dear Folks,
Mr. McGlaughlin hasn't heard anything like those two sonatas by G.A. Pandolfi? Yes, they're gorgeous--certainly as performed by Messrs. Manze and Egarr; but they contain devices and figures that are as old as Monteverdi and Giovanni Gabrieli.

Mr. McGlaughlin may indeed have not heard anything like it, but Sr. Pandolfi,in the 1660s, was writing at the very tail-end of the Early Baroque. And a real trailblazer--if not *the* trailblazer--of the form, style, and harmonic daring Pandolfi exhibits was Dario Castello, who flourished (so far as we know) in the 1620s, in Venice. (He was a performer at St. Mark's.)

If my searches on your site were correct, Saint Paul Sunday has never offered music by Castello. Nor has it ever, amazingly, hosted anybody playing the cornetto--the virtuoso instrument of the High Renaissance and Early Baroque.

Nor, apparently, has it hosted Bruce Dickey, who is perhaps the greatest living cornettist (which is to say, therefore, the most virtuosic performer on the instrument since perhaps the early to mid-Seventeenth Century)(And I say 'perhaps' because there are a growing number of highly accomplished players of this most difficult instrument, including the marvelous Jeremy West, in England, and Kiri Tollaksen, here in the states.)

What are the chances that Mr. Dickey, and his excellent ensemble, the Concerto Palatino, could be guests on the show? Check them out performing Castello (and Giuseppe Scarani) on the CD 'Sonate Concertate in Stil Moderno' (Accent 9058 D). The music and the performances are elegant and voluptuous, and I gar-on-tee your audience would devour such a program.
Rod Gates

By Rod Gates at July 18, 2005 5:28 PM


Thank you for this inspiring programming!
Where, or how, may I find the sheet music for the Toccata?

By Helen Martin at July 24, 2005 12:27 PM


Hi Helen,

I am thrilled that this program has gotten such a positive, enthusiastic response. As far as finding the music is concerned, I would head to your local music store and tell them exactly what you're looking for: J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d minor.

They may need to order the music for you, but the clerk should be knowledgeable as to which edition to get. One note of caution: Andrew Manze transposed this piece himself to a minor so that he could play it on violin. I imagine that there are other transposed, published editions of the piece for other instruments (I've already found arrangements for xylophone and saxophone). Make sure that the clerk knows what instrumentation you're looking for. The original composition is for harpsichord. Good luck!

For all the attention and fanfare that surrounds new music these days, I think it's incredible (and wonderful) that older music inspires the same curiosity and sense of innovation. Have any of you seen Andrew Manze or Richard Egarr in performance?

By Suzanne Schaffer at July 25, 2005 10:24 AM