Joel Luks, culturemap Houston
… The music was sublime. Playing with virtuosic musicality, sensitivity and poise, members Bart Spanhove, Tom Beets, Joris Van Goethem and Paul Van Loey exploited the limits of the recorder, often changing instruments and role to suit the composition, even using humor where appropriate.
I couldn’t help but laugh at repeated mischievous coo coo sounds courtesy of the embouchure of Beets’ instrument (though the audience didn’t seem to show their appreciation) and the playful theme and variations on a theme by a sparrow.
Soprano Cecile Kempenaers was delightful, singing with a subtly ornamented style, suitable for the music. Her pitch accuracy was superhuman, executing large leaps with ease and scientific precision, almost sounding like an organ herself. Her vibrato shimmered while her phrasing achieved that elastic early music aesthetic, where notes seem to grow in intensity and are thrown into the abyss of a reverberant hall. Chillingly sexy, the concert was filled with satisfyingly delicious medieval cadences.
If Houston Early Music continues to bring artists like Cecile Kempenaers and the Flanders Recorder Quartet, its upcoming season is worth checking out.