October 2, 2006 |
The long-term quest of Piffaro, the Philadelphia-based Renaissance band, to dispel the belief that Renaissance-era instrumental music was a runt stepchild of vocal polyphony transcends any need for scholarly proof in programs such as "Iberica Resplendens," performed at three area venues over the weekend. Subtitled "Music from the Great Cathedral Collections of Spain and Portugal," the eight-part program of 16th-century music contained instrumental versions of some of the era's most richly drawn vocal works by composers such as Guerrero and Morales.
December 24, 1996 |
St. Mark's Church on Locust Street, with its gilt angels and recessed altar behind which row upon row of candles twinkle, is a pleasant place to encounter Piffaro, the Renaissance Band. More significantly, the acoustics are less reverberant than in other ecclesiastical spaces that double as Philadelphia music chambers. A French Christmas was the theme for a series of concerts the ensemble gave over the weekend featuring noels from the 15th to 17th centuries. The good turnout at the performance I attended suggests that many find this music, with its gentle squawks and modal cadences, a soothing holiday tonic.
March 30, 1998 |
If Piffaro's costumed pageant, The Stadtpfeiffer of Holzweg, proves anything, it is that Renaissance musicians had great tunes in their memories to work with. The piece also proves some other things about the value of comedy in easing understanding of serious things, as the music the ensemble played in its dance and walk through a festival day exalted one evocative melody after another. The theater piece, seen and heard Friday at the Arts Bank, has been in evolution for a couple of seasons.
February 13, 2006 |
More than ever, special-interest ensembles in the classical music world have to be seen as impressively as they're heard. It's survival and opportunity. Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, has delivered many fine programs, but Eden: The Polyphonic Paradise of Jacob Obrecht & Hieronymus Bosch has an intense visual element thanks to projections of Bosch's fantastical paintings. So this is the one with legs: After last weekend's concerts here, Piffaro and the Flemish vocal group Capilla Flamenca tour to New York, Nashville, Tenn.
May 9, 2011 |
The nerve! If Philadelphia Orchestra audiences get justifiably upset over a program switch from Brahms to Tchaikovsky, think of what fits could be thrown over the bait and switch by Piffaro the Renaissance Band on Friday. Instead of a program devoted to the obscure 16th-century Alexander Agricola (maybe the only such program in Philadelphia history), the audience at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill got Ludwig Senfl and Heinrich Isaac. Agricola admirers should be used to such treatment; his often-cerebral music is more discussed than heard.
November 23, 2005 |
The Philadelphia-based Renaissance wind band Piffaro is in the business of creating musical time capsules of distant musical milieus - and sometimes goes rather further than that. In its superb program titled A Festive Vespers, Dresden 1620 on Sunday, the group joined forces with New York City's Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola to create an immersion into an often overlooked world that lay just beyond the German Renaissance. Many explorations of baroque music skip the period's first century in preference to the 18th-century triumvirate of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.
October 29, 2002 |
The air at Old St. Joseph's Church was heavy with incense Sunday afternoon. Mass was not led by clerics, but was in the trusty hands - and mouths - of Piffaro, a local wind band, opening its 18th concert season in Philadelphia. An extraordinarily versatile group of musicians that turns on a dime to craft new musical worlds from medieval and renaissance sources, Piffaro re-created Francisco Guerrero's Missa Sancta et Immaculata Virginitas as it might have been heard in the Cathedral of Seville, where the prolific composer was chapel master in the late 16th century.
December 22, 2008 |
No matter how distant its origins, Christmas music across the centuries has a single common trait: a pared-down absence of complication that ensures a joyfully immediate impact. That was particularly the case in the holiday concert by Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, titled "Nouvelle Nouvelle: Christmas in Renaissance France," heard in venues in and around Philadelphia this weekend, with one performance left at 8 tonight at Princeton's All Saints Church. Augmented by a quartet of solo singers and mime artists from Maryland's Happenstance Theater creating iconic Christmas scenes, Piffaro presented a range of sacred and secular 16th-century music with unusual fusion of extroversion and integrity.
February 28, 2005 |
Though never uninteresting on its own, Piffaro the Renaissance Band periodically collaborates with a group as substantial as itself in programs that are often the best of their kind in any given season - and would be even if they weren't the only ones of their kind in this community. Last weekend's trio of concerts - I caught the Saturday performance at the near-full Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill ? was a prime example. In a custom-made program titled "Music From the Court of Ferrara," the alternately sweet and sour sackbuts, recorders and bagpipes of Piffaro were augmented by the quintet of Renaissance-period string instruments of the King's Noyse.
December 20, 2010 |
Even Piffaro's strongest believers would not expect the Philadelphia Renaissance band to make good on the title of its concert, "Drive the Cold Winter Away!" particularly in venues that happen to be hard-to-heat churches. But the solstice program was such a witty alternative to usual holiday fare that wearing wool socks was hardly a prohibitive admission requirement. The guest artists, soprano Laura Heimes and tenor Philip Anderson, were by themselves good reasons to catch Saturday's concert at St. Mark's Church (repeated Monday at Princeton's All Saints Church)