Founded in 2006 by Christopher Palameta, the Notturna ensemble, which is rarely heard in Quebec, is dedicated to showcasing the early music repertoire including wind instruments. It includes musicians from Europe and here, including violinist Olivier Brault and cellist Susie Napper. Their latest recording, released in 2020, featured period arrangements of Grétry’s opera L’amant jaloux.
What is Calcutta doing in classical music? It turns out that this British counter founded in 1609 has become over time a place of rich cultural exchanges between the colonial elite and the Bengali population. Why 1789? This is the year that the Oriental Miscellany is published, a collection of thirty Hindustani melodies transcribed for harpsichord by the Irishman William Hamilton Bird, symbol par excellence of the musical interbreeding induced by the meeting of two cultures at the antipodes.
But it is also known that at the same time, the indigenous elites were fond of English music, especially “old” masters like Purcell and Handel, and more contemporary ones like that of Johann Christian Bach (son of you know who) and Carl Friedrich Abel, two Germans adopted by London in the 1760s.
Palameta masterfully mixes these different elements in a series of short pieces ranging from the sublime (certain airs transcribed from Purcell or Handel) to the simply pleasant (the three excerpts from quintets by J.C.Bach are skilful, but far from transcendent). .
The oboe of Palameta, but also the traverse of Mika Putterman and even on occasion the sitar of Uwe Neumann shine with a thousand lights. A real pleasure to listen to!