Camerata Kilkenny

CAMERATA KILKENNY
Founded by the Irish harpsichordist and organist Malcolm Proud and the Swiss violinist Maya Homburger, Camerata Kilkenny is a period instrument group specialising in the performance of Baroque music although many of its programmes combine 17th and 18th century music with the works of contemporary composers. Over the years Camerata Kilkenny has been regularly joined by guest artists including Dutch soprano Lenneke Ruiten, baroque flautist Wilbert Hazelzet (Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra), Swiss cellist Thomas Demenga, Calmus Ensemble (Leipzig), Rachel Beckett (principal flute English Baroque Soloists), Sebastien Marq (recorder player with Les Arts Florissant), Croatian baroque violinist Bojan Cicic (Academy of Ancient Music).

Since its début recital at the Kilkenny Arts Festival in August 1999 Camerata Kilkenny has performed in Switzerland (Zurich, Bern), Austria (St. Gerold, Maria Enzersdorf), Germany (Handel Festival Halle), France (Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris), Belgium (Leuven & CC Maasmechelen Festival Leut), Finland (Vaanta Festival, Helsinki), The Netherlands (Geelvinck Museum, Amsterdam), Estonia, Latvia and at all of Ireland’s leading music festival including the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, the Sligo Festival of Baroque Music, the Festival of Great Irish Houses, the Galway Early Music Festival, the East Cork Early Music Festival 'Music in the Mosaics' in Timoleague, the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Armagh Georgian Festival, the Clifden Arts Festival, the Hugh Lane Gallery Sunday’s at Noon series and at the Barrow River Arts Festival.

CD recordings on the MayaRecordings label include J.S. Bach’s ‘Musical Offering’ and H.I.F. Biber’s ‘Mystery Sonatas’ with violinist Maya Homburger which was listed in the prestigious German music industry ‘Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik’ awards in 2007.


In 2015 Camerata Kilkenny was Ensemble in Residence at Kilkenny Arts Festival taking part in sell out performances of Bach’s B minor Mass, the Brandenburg Concertos, the ‘Great Concertos’ and the Musical Offering. Maya Homburger and Malcolm Proud performed all six of Bach’s sonatas for violin and harpsichord and Malcolm Proud gave an organ recital of Clavier Übung Bk. 3 in St. Canice’s Cathedral. Maya Homburger performed the Sonatas and Partitas of J.S. Bach in a late night concert in candle light in the Black Abbey. At the 2016 Kilkenny Arts Festival Camerata Kilkenny appeared with the English tenor Mark Padmore performing Bach cantatas and instrumental music. Earlier in 2016 they also performed at the Mantova Chamber Music Festival in Italy and the ‘Wege durch das Land’ Festival in Hameln, Germany. In Autumn 2016 they toured a programme entitled ‘The Piper and the Faerie Queen’ with the great Uilleann Piper David Power, with support from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Touring Award, to Sligo, Waterford, Dublin, Kilkenny and Cork.

In 2018 the ensemble toured to Finland, Germany and Belgium and performed at the Early Music Festival in Magnano, Italy and in Switzerland with the Swedish soprano Maria Keohane.

Camerata Kilkenny recorded 2 CDs in 2018 - ‘The Piper and the Fairy Queen’ with David Power Uilleann Pipes on the RTE Lyric FM label and a CD of Arias by J.S. Bach alongside Swedish folk hymns with soprano Maria Keohane on the Maya Recordings label which is due for release in 2019.

+ read more- read less

Reviews

REVIEW FROM THE MUNSTER EXPRESS - 13 October 2016 - Liam Murphy

WATERFORD MUSIC REVIEW The Piper and the Faerie Queen
Camerata Kilkenny with David Power - Uilleann Pipes
Thursday 29 September 2016 - The Large Room, Waterford City Hall

Waterford Music celebrated their 75th Season with a world-class concert, The Piper and the Faerie Queen, featuring two world-class musicians; David Power (uilleann pipes) and Malcolm Proud (harpsichord). Waterford Music have been bringing Irish, and International chamber music concerts to Waterford since 1942. The Arts Council 'pissed on their parade' by axing their modest funding. This is a slap in the face, not only to an excellent organisation but to the many whose only classical concert outlet is Waterford Music.

The concert was wonderful as David Power joined with Camerata Kilkenny to provide a special evening of traditional piping airs with 17th-century Baroque music. Both Power and Proud spoke to their receptive, capacity audience in the Large Room in City Hall and explained aspects of the music on offer.
David Power, a Dungarvan native opened with An Droighneann Donn (The Brown Thorn), and I hope it pricks the Arts Council's conscience. The theme of fairies, stolen children, magic spells were woven into the programme. The Pinch Of Snuff with the European themed The Salamanca delighted the audience.

Camerata Kilkenny opened with a touch of Biber (no, not Justin Bieber, but the 17th-century composer H.I.F. Biber). Their Gulliver Suite for two violins was a joy, even if there was the irony of a musical tussle between Houyhnhnms and Yahoos. Who are the Yahoos in the Arts Council you may well ask?

A Telemann opera overture, La Musette was a lively experience. After the interval, the Purcell Suite from The Faerie Queen was wonderful with dance tunes and virtuosic playing. David Power joined them for a Leclair Pastoral and some pipe music from Handel's Messiah. His closing tune, The Fox Chase was wonderful, and I heard people singing softly the children's tune An Maidrin Rua (The Little Red Fox).

The committee of Waterford Music never mentioned their treatment by the Arts Council and celebrated in fine style with their audience, their friends, and quality musicians.

Camerata Kilkenny are Maya Homburger (baroque violin), Claire Duff (baroque violin), Marja Gaynor (baroque viola), Sarah McMahon (baroque cello), Aoife Nic Athlaoich (baroque cello), Barry Guy (bass) and Malcolm Proud (harpsichord).


J.S. Bach - The Musical Offering (Das Musikalisches Opfer) St Ann’s Church, Dublin

All 10 seasons of the Orchestra of St Cecilia’s Bach cantata series have supplemented five choral-orchestral programmes with a concert or two of the supreme master’s chamber music.
During the inaugural season back in 2001, two of the unaccompanied sonatas and partitas were performed by baroque violinist Maya Homburger, and the Goldberg Variations by harpsichordist Malcolm Proud.
Both artists returned for the current for the current, concluding season, along with three other members of their international ensemble Camerata Kilkenny, to present one of Bach’s most exalted contrapuntal testimonies, The Musical Offering.
Its chromatic theme, supplied by the musicianly King Frederick the Great of Prussia, acts as both seed and scaffolding for 16 movements: two of them ricercars (that is, researching fugues), four making up a trio sonata, and the remainder a miscellany of mind- bending canons.
The sonata calls for transverse flute (Wilbert Hazelzet), violin (Homburger) and continuo (Proud plus Sarah McMahon on baroque cello), while one canon is designated for two violins (Homburger plus Marja Gaynor). As regards the instrumentation of everything else, Bach gives the performers carte blanche.
Proud took the solo harpsichord option in volatile accounts of the two ricercars. Elsewhere, apart from some telling contributions to certain solutions of the two-part puzzle canon, his instrument was deployed as sparingly as possible.
This left room for a range of string and flute combinations, further varied by Gaynor’s switching to viola, in which one could take one’s fill of lively articulation, shrewd harmonic nuances and rich ornamentation – not to mention Hazelzet’s always- exquisite colourings.
Performances of this extra-special work can be sometimes illuminated, sometimes stultified, by an atmosphere of overpowering reverence.
Not so this one, in which the music’s artifices were subsumed in a world of rhetoric, decoration and dance.
(Andrew Johnstone, Irish Times 2012)


Camerata Kilkenny at Hugh Lane Gallery Dublin

Listeners foresaw this would be a great one and packed the Hugh Lane Gallery until, alas, no more could be admitted. Bach, period instruments, excellent players, free admission. And incredible music. Clearly present were fans of The Musical Offering , with its "Royal" theme provided by Prussia's King Frederick II and given a comprehensive going-over by Bach. His straightforward canons, like rounds, were readily spotted, but there was much else that was hard or impossible for the ear to detect or follow, such as canons where the second voice is the same as the first one, only upside down or backwards. And somehow it all just sounds like Baroque chamber music.
Bach had a point to prove. When he visited the royal palace, the king gave him his royal theme and challenged him to improvise a three-part fugue upon it. It was so easy for Bach that the King said: how about six? Bach declined but composed one upon his return to Leipzig, plus all the canons and a four-movement trio sonata, all part of the Offering , all derived from the royal theme.
The other players withdrew to seats as harpsichordist Malcolm Proud opened the concert with what is generally reckoned to be Bach's transcription of the improvised three-part fugue (or ricercare ), and then again when he later gave the fully composed six-part fugue. Even with music for two hands in six voices spread over six staves, Proud serenely executed with a delivery that took full account of every appearance of the theme, that shaped the accompanying figures, that was always leading somewhere.
Joining the Kilkenny Camerata on the line written for the king, an accomplished flautist, was Wilbert Hazelzet, first flautist in Ton Koopman's Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. He combined strength with softness and conjured colour from the baroque flute's sweet but limited palette.
Camerata violinists Maya Homburger and Marja Gaynor turned the most mind-boggling canons into playful conversations, and cellist Sarah McMahon came into her own in the trio sonata. In all, a superb and free concert, for which much credit is due to the Arts Council and the councils of Dublin City and Kilkenny County and Borough.
(Michael Dungan, Irish Times 2008)


Bach: The Musical Offering
CAMERATA KILKENNY

This CD came to me as a Christmas present and I want to share the pleasure it has given me with Irish Examiner readers. In February last, Cork music lovers had the privilege of hearing this brilliant group, centered around Kilkenny-based Malcolm Proud, performing Bach’s remarkable musical tour de force at Cork School of Music. Of the performance then of the work’s Trio Sonata, for flute, violin and continuo, I wrote ‘…….. (this) almost made me believe I had died and gone to heaven’. Listening to this recently released recording, made possible by Music Network/Arts Council, I can better understand its impact. Not only is the music sublime; so is the recorded performance.

In his ‘Musical Offering’ to King Frederic II of Prussia Bach is not so much displaying his technical/compositional virtuosity as having fun, taking delight in playing with the musical material of the theme that the king had provided! The king had demanded that Bach transform the royal theme into a 6-part fugue (the full story and details of all the compositional tricks that Bach got up to are in David Ledbetter’s excellent accompanying booklet) and he got more than he bargained for. While scholars stand in awe of Bach’s skill and imagination, ordinary listeners simply delight in the music’s joyful, ever-changing colours and instrumental combinations.

Joining internationally-renowned Early Music specialists, Wilbert Hazelzet (flute), Maya Homburger (violin), and Malcolm Proud (harpsichord) on the CD are Finnish virtuoso, Marja Gaynor (violin/viola) and Callino Quartet cellist, Sarah McMahon, in a superbly recorded performance of enormous charm and outstanding musicality.
(Declan Townsend, The Irish Examiner)

“The real highlight of the first weekend came on Saturday evening, when Chamber Choir Ireland and Camerata Kilkenny joined forces under Paul Hillier for a performance of the Mass in B Minor at St Canice’s Cathedral. The musical approach was gentle and luminous, the full richness of this extraordinary musical score laid out with exemplary clarity, everything in view, nothing obscured.”
(Michael Dervan in The Irish Times 2015)

+ read more- read less

CDs

H.I.F. BIBER, MYSTERY SONATAS Maya Homburger (solo) with Camerata Kilkenny, MCD0603
J.S.BACH, MUSICAL OFFERING Camerata Kilkenny and Wilbert Hazelzet (flute) , Maya Recordings MCD1003
THE PIPER AND THE FAIRY QUEEN Camerata Kilkenny, RTÉlyric fm CD156 (2018)