Monday, April 13, 2015

Guanajuato: Viol da Gamba Comes to Town

To be up close to the musicians, try an early concert at Maz+Ahuas, the gallery in Casa Cuatro..Last Saturday at 7, at a da gamba concert, I decided the angels in heaven don't play harps, they play the instrument I was hearing. This  time, there was no paper program, I don't know the name of the musician I heard, only that he and the keyboard player during the latter part of the concert will be playing with Armando Lopez' Los Tiempos Pasados in this year's Cervantino Festival. For this concert, he was dressed conservatively in black, but with roguish dark sunglasses perched on his head.

Like a cello, the viol de gamba (viol of the leg) is played, yes, between the legs but a closer look shows how the two instruments differ. With the viol da gamba,: the player holds the bow palm up, the instrument has a flat not rounded back, has no stand supporting it on the floor, six strings rather than four, and what is not apparent to the eye, it is tuned differently.

Thanks to a tip from another writer covering the Cervantino Festival a few years ago, I went to hear Jordi Savall, the world's most renowned viol player and his group play music from the age of Cervantes. How happy I was to have another chance to hear beautiful music written centuries ago for this instrument. Let's not forget it was contemporary music then!

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