(TORONTO, ON) – Montreal’s La Nef played Toronto on March 27 and 28 and wowed its audiences with its Dowland in Dublin production. La Nef is a company dedicated to the creation and production of early music and hiring musicians and artists on a project basis. Its concerts focus on early and traditional music quite similar to The Toronto Consort who hosted La Nef.
La Nef alternates projects that are essentially musical with theatrical components that involve multidisciplinary, multimedia, and operatic elements.
We aren’t quite certain whether John Dowland (1563-1626) was Irish or British. He was admired, if not revered, throughout Europe, but not retained as a musician in Britain, until later in age, by the English Court of King James I.
The musical ensemble of Sylvain Bergeron (lute), Seán Dagher (cittern), Grégoire Jeay (flute and recorder), Amanada Keesemaat (cello), and Alex Kehler (violin) were impeccable and crisp.
Tenor Michael Slattery was astounding, not missing a single note. His voice both soaring and subdued when called for. If he had been in Dowland’s time he would have been the Nat King Cole of the day. In 2015, however, he was flawless and inspiring.
This was a top-rate early music concert, but it was amazing that I detected riffs from Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zepplin, and Bruce Cockburn. But Dowland was there first.
Behold a Wonder Here was Dowland melancholy at its best. It contrasted with the riotous reel and jig concluding the first segment of the concert. A nice way to follow the song Lacrimae Pavan which was so beautiful and angelic it certainly would be the music that greets me when, or if, I enter the pearly gates.
After the first segment it was as if La Nef has supplied enough musical power to transform the audience into gorged lions after a kill. As the zebra meat was so rich and tasty, the lions lazily sleep in the sun.
In this case, it was a Toronto audience so smitten by La Nef’s first segment that it sat happy with almost glazed eyes as La Nef delivered an artistic coupe de grace.
I thought the Toronto-Montreal rivalry had died when Levesque did. Quebec is in its own universe and if that universe can create and support La Nef then that only makes Canada richer in early music.
Hey. If Cirque de Soleil can go global why not La Nef?