Audience members were transported back in time at Friday night’s concert “Cosmopolitan Artifacts”. Sam Houston State University hosted the chamber group Les Touches, who performed six pieces in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center Recital Hall.
The duet is made up of Stephanie Raby and Pedro Funes. These two guest artist played the 6-string bass viol and the 7-string bass viol. These instruments were popular in the Renaissance time period.
The first piece was composed by Italian Giovanni Buonavetura Viviani called “Solfeggiamento Nono.”
The song started off slow and was played with great precision. The two players plucked the chords to give it a rich sound. The acoustics in this first song were great and set up the rest of the pieces well.
The next piece, “Pavan, almain and ayre” was written by John Jenkins and John Ward and was an intense piece. The melody moved from slow and soft tones to fast and harsh undertones, yet it all seemed natural and in sync. Raby and Funes were both focused and gave the piece everything they had.
“Sonata V from The Nymphs on the Rhine Allergo-Adagio-Aria Polonese” composed by Dutch Johannes Schenck was the third piece.
This song in particular captivated the audience. The strings mesmerized everyone by the way the duo played this lovely tune. The performers filled the room with the sounds of the Renaissance. It was upbeat and fun, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
John Hingeston composed the next piece, “Fantazia, almandes and corante for two bass viols No. 4.” In this song there was a mixture of long strokes and high and fast plucking. It was a pleasing sound. This song could have been played at a Renaissance ball. The slight contrast was like people moving back and forth.
“Divisions in F Major” by Christopher Simpson was the fifth piece in the concert.
Starting off slow and then growing, the piece seemed meaningful. In each movement Raby and Funes showed such emotion and talent. The piece was impressive.
The last piece “Sixieme Sonate Gayment- Vivement- Lentement- Legrement” was written by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier and was complex and a nice way to end the concert. There was fast plucking that surprisingly looked very graceful and seamless. The rich sounds of the chords filled the room.
The whole concert was about an hour, but as an audience member the time seemed to fly by. The viewers were caught up in their performances. Raby and Funes have great passion for what they do. In each piece their necks and bodies moved back and forth as they moved with music. It was clear they felt the music instead of the chords.
Raby and Funes have performed together since 2011 when they formed the duet at the Jacobs School of Music Early Music Institute at Indiana University.
Raby received her undergraduate at the University of North Texas and her masters degree in early music at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Along with this group, Raby also performs with Mountainside Baroque, La Follia, and Queen City Musicians.
Funes attended the University of Houston for his undergraduate work and then received his master’s in early music at Indiana University. He is currently the Assistant Orchestra Director at Oak Ridge High School in Conroe, president of Viols of Houston and Vice President of Houston Early Music.
Funes has also performed outside Les Touches when he worked with Ars Lyrica and Texas Early Music Project.
The concert was sponsored by the Center for Early Music Research and Performance, and featured works from 17 and 18 Century France, Italy and Germany.