|Charles Weaver (photo by Manning Gurney)|
Last night, we were introduced to some beautiful pieces for the baroque guitar, performed by lutenist, singer, vocal coach and director Charles Weaver, well known in early music circles. The composer, Santiago de Murcia, was born in Madrid in 1673 and died there in 1739. Although it is not likely that he visited the New World, his music was known there and his manuscripts have been discovered in Mexico. We of the United States would do well to remember that the New World was predominantly Spanish for a good long while! There is always an interesting historical context to Salon/Sanctuary evenings.
The first set of pieces were traditional Spanish dances; the second set comprised a classical suite of International dances, some of which were transcriptions of pieces Archangelo Corelli wrote for violin. We especially enjoyed the rapid fingerwork of the Giga. For the final set Mr. Weaver played some rather more revolutionary pieces derived from dances of Africa and some of Spain's colonies. One of these purported to imitate the sound of trumpets; indeed the arpeggiation and the echo effects did remind us of the types of melodies generally assigned to that instrument.
Following the recital, there was a great deal of audience interest expressed toward the unique instrument. What we now call the baroque guitar was originally known simply as a guitar and began life as a folk instrument, as opposed to the courtly lute; it can be considered the parent of the modern day guitar. Mr. Weaver's instrument is beautiful and highly decorated with a latticework design covering the hole. This early version has 9 strings. There are 4 pairs of strings, tuned in unison or in octaves, and a solo string for the treble. Today, most strings are plastic instead of the original sheep's gut. The frets are movable; the strings are plucked, not strummed.
The fine evening was capped by a tasting of Spanish wines and cheeses, hosted by Serendipity Wines. So, we "went for baroque" and felt well rewarded for bearing the brunt of the heat wave.