Herd the Third: More Concerti by Bach for Multiple Harpsichords

La Follia takes the harpsichord beyond Bach and proves the instrument isn't just for the baroque

The harpsichord herd in their corral
The harpsichord herd in their corral (Photo by Robert Faires)

Herd the Third: More Concerti by Bach for Multiple Harpsichords

First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa
Sunday, Jan. 6

After two years in which La Follia's early-January concerts of harpsichord music by J.S. Bach played to capacity crowds, you'd figure the lesson for the next follow-up would be: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And certainly Herd the Third: More Concerti by Bach for Multiple Harpsichords served up much of the same reedy keyboard goodness that entertained audiences so mightily in the previous two programs – indeed, it featured a reprise of the Concerto in A Minor for Four Harpsichords and Strings from the original 2011 Bach's Herd of Harpsichords concert (played with the same infectious vigor as before).

But Artistic Director Keith Womer – who playfully welcomed audiences to this Herd wearing a cowboy hat – couldn't resist tweaking the program a bit. In addition to the Bach, he included a contemporary work for four harpsichords and strings by a modern master of the instrument, Asako Hirabayashi. It was a bold departure from the usual stately progressions and rococo runs, and from the first notes – the strings sounding anguished and dissonant – there was no mistaking the era; this was our time. The harpsichords soon followed suit, anxiously plucking odd notes and skittering like spiders, with the occasional lyrical run. The shift in style was initially jarring, but Womer had asked that we keep our minds open, and if you met the work on its own terms, it offered distinct pleasures: the tense curtain of notes that the harpsichords formed in the second movement, behind which a melody took shape, overseen by moody, regretful strings; the third movement's spirited violin part – given charming gypsy flourishes by Veronika Vassileva – and the jaunty race of the harpsichords seemingly recovered from the score of a Sixties British film. Hirabayashi's concerto (on which she joined Womer, Jeffrey Jones-Ragona, and JiMin Kim at the keyboards) proved there's life in the old instrument yet – and room for more than Bach in La Follia's Herd. But we think that Johann Sebastian would approve.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Austin classical music
Exhibitionism
The Creation
Texas Choral Consort's performance of Haydn's masterwork reawakened one's sense of life in all its immense variety

Robert Faires, Aug. 22, 2014

Austin Chamber Musical Festival Sixth Annual Pride Concert
Austin Chamber Musical Festival Sixth Annual Pride Concert
Was G.F. Handel on your Gaydar?

Natalie Zeldin, July 11, 2014

More Arts Reviews
Zach Theatre's <i>Sunday in the Park With George</i>
Zach Theatre's Sunday in the Park With George
Zach relalizes the Sondheim musical with near flawless execution but has little in the way of emotional reward

Elizabeth Cobbe, June 15, 2018

Heartland Theatre Collective’s <i>Little Bird</i>
Heartland Theatre Collective’s Little Bird
The vulnerability of small things is at the heart of Nicole Oglesby’s drama of girls and ghosts in East Texas bayou country

Robert Faires, June 15, 2018

More by Robert Faires
Spectrum Theatre Company's <i>Juneteenth Chronicles</i>
Spectrum Theatre Company's Juneteenth Chronicles
With this play, Crystal Bird Caviel honors ancestors who were slaves and her colleague, the late Dr. Billy F. Harden

June 15, 2018

The Ransom Center's
The Ransom Center's "Vaudeville!"
This exhibition reveals how the history of that entertainment form is really the history of the U.S.

June 8, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Herd the Third: More Concerti by Bach for Multiple Harpsichords, Austin classical music, La Follia, Keith Womer, Asako Hirabayashi, JiMin Kim, Jeffrey Jones-Ragona

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle