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Les Violons offer lively Baroque music at Troy

02.08.09
Les Violons du Roy
Daily Gazette

TROY - Conductor Bernard Labadie and his 15-member Les Violons du Roy breathed the spirit of bonhomie Saturday night at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in a lively program of mostly Baroque music.

The concert, which was the third appearance for the group at the hall, is part of a six-city U.S. tour. Labadie founded Les Violons in 1984 as a vehicle for Baroque music and his impassioned conducting showed how much he loves it. Sometimes the infectious rhythms were so tempting, Labadie seemed ready to dance away. His players were equally enthused.

They began with Telemann's "Ouverture des Nations anciens et modernes." Written in nine sections, which ranged typically from slow to fast with few breaks, Les Violons were expertly balanced and used broad blocks of dynamics. The players use modern instruments with copies of period bows, which produce subtle color.

Strong accents, little vibrato and precise pitch created an authentic and lovely sound.

Fifty musicians on their own barge played Handel's "Water Music" for a 1717 trip up the Thames for King George I. The large crowd could have fun with that imagery listening to Les Violons and a flute/piccolo player, who tastefully ornamented and trilled away on the smooth lines of the music. Such a genteel way to travel.

The prize winning French hornist Louis-Philippe Marsolais was the elegant and effortless soloist in Haydn's Horn Concerto No. 2 in D Major.

It's a bouncy work and Marsolais produced a mellow sound, light attacks, an effortless breath control and an easy manner. His two cadenzas were flawless and his slow second movement was exquisitely controlled. Labadie maintained perfect balances.

Purcell's Chaconne from "King Arthur" was lively and Handel's Suite from "Alcina" showed how versatile and entertaining a composer he was with its many sections. Les Violons was precise, ebullient, controlled. Geminiani's Concerto Gross was more complex with counterpoint and many solos. It was a tour-de-force and Les Violons was immaculate.

A standing ovation received an encore of Bach's sublime "Air on a G String."