The Flanders Recorder Quartet is usually four guys from Belgium playing an assortment of recorders. Tuesday, they were a trio.
One of their members had broken a foot and was under a doctor’s orders to avoid flying.
These things happen, and when they do, the performers need to adjust. And that was the case when the group revamped its program, scaled back what was going to be a Johann Sebastian Bach-centered event and focused on the recorder through the ages.
It was a pretty seamless transition, a well-carried-out bit of musical triage on the part of the musicians and the concert organizers at the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, all of whom worked out the details in time for the reconfigured programs to be printed and the doors opened.
As a result, the concert had an improvisatory quality to it, even as the group wove its way through musical history, playing scores and arrangements ranging from the 14th century through the late 20th century on recorders, great and small.
The longest-lived and most prolific composer of all time – Anonymous – contributed two of the earliest works heard on the program, “O Virgo splendens” and “Dit le burguygnon,” in addition to an undated trifecta of tunes bound together by the trio under the title “Folky Art Music or Arty Folk Music?”
Even King Henry VIII of England had a couple of his musical efforts played as part of a medley titled “A Consort of Excellent Musicke.”
The first half of the evening was devoted to medleys or paired works, while the later portion of the program was devoted to singular pieces, with the exception of the group’s witty arrangement of “La Folia,” which meshed together versions of the song’s core melody by Arcangelo Corelli, Antonion Vivaldi, Marin Marais, and Domenico Scarlatti.
A well-played snippet from Bach’s “The Art of the Fugue” was the only piece that hinted at what might have been and followed the trio’s splendid take on Vivaldi’s “Concerto in F major,” a.k.a. “La tempesta di mare”.
They closed out the evening with some works written in the last century.
There was a bouncy “Kadanza,” by Willem Wander van Nieuwkerk, and an oddly swinging “New Braun Bag,” by Pete Rose, who the group called “the famous jazz-recorder player” in their program notes.
Along the way, the Flanders Recorder threesome played a wide variety of sizes and styles of recorders.
If you were only aware of the instrument from it’s role in school music programs, it might surprise you to learn that size ranges from inches to well over six feet in height.
It was a bit disconcerting to hear and see an eight-foot recorder laying down a jazz bass line in the Rose composition, but it was easy to get over once the essential musicality of the performance hit.
Flanders Recorder Quartet
Presented by the Buffalo Chamber Music Society on Tuesday evening in Kleinhans Music Hall’s Mary Seaton Room, 3 Symphony Circle.