Les Violons du Roy musicians uplift in unison at Troy Hall

Les Violons du Roy
Times Union

There's more than just fiddlers in the ensemble Les Violons du Roy, but on Saturday night at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall the 14 string players plus harpsichord performed with such unity of purpose that one might think they were a single instrument. The Baroque ensemble from Montreal was making a return engagement thanks to the Troy Chromatics. Led by conductor Bernard Ladabie, they gave a lilting grace to every selection.

The commonness of purpose amongst the players came through not just in the sound but also showed up in the caress of their instruments. The players hold their bows near the middle of the stick rather than at its base. It's a less weighty, rather gravity defying technique that is probably meant to soften attacks though plenty of sonic oomph still came through when needed.

During the opening work by Telemann, "Overture des Nations anciens et modernes," a radiant life filled every note and each phrase arched with a gentle crescendo. Cast in about nine brief sections, the piece was true to its title, showcasing a world of dynamics, shadings and moods.

The Suite No. 3 from Handel's "Water Music" featured lively solo work on flute and piccolo from Jean-Philippe Tanguay. With just four short movements it was over too soon. A pity that the ensemble didn't present the entire piece as originally planned.

In Hadyn's Horn Concerto No. 2 in D Major with Louis-Philippe Marsolais, the solo lines hover in the lower range of the instrument making for a demanding but not overly showy part. But the young and captivating Marsolais still made the most of it. His first movement cadenza suggested an inner dialogue of themes and registers and his finale was florid and perfectly placed.

More Handel came in the second half, with a long suite from the opera "Alcina." Just as the succession of dances grew a bit wearing, the music took a dramatic turn and growled like something out of Mozart's "Don Giovanni." Then came a pianissimo chase scene, with the players scampering up and down their fingerboards for a dramatic conclusion.

Finally, a concerto grosso by Gemanini proved that the musicians are also more than capable soloists, with the first chair players performing alternating passages as a quartet. Concertmaster Nicole Trotier showed particular steel, even when she occasionally began an accented phrase with an unorthodox upward bow.

The appreciative audience was given a soothing farewell with the encore, Bach's "Air on the G String."