Members of the early-music group Musica Reservata came a long way for their concert Saturday on Temple Square, in some cases from as far away as Logan and Price. But not as far as most of the music they played, namely from Italy in the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.
Verdelot, Frescobaldi, Monteverdi, Josquin des Prez etc. - that's a rare enough menu in these parts as to make one sorry it should crop up the same weekend the U. chose to present "The Coronation of Poppea." Still, I doubt anyone who opted for the more intimate offering was disappointed, given the skill and enthusiasm with which the Reservatans approach their work.Thus, in full costume, they served up some delightful samples of the Italian Renaissance, beginning with a lively 14th-century "Estampie" and moving to Landini's "Ecco la Primavera" ("Welcome to Spring"), in which the three singers, soprano Bonnie Slade, tenor Royce Backman and bass Russell Wilson, were backed by recorders and drum. After that came lute songs of Verdelot, Marco Cara and Luis Milan, among others, enhanced not only by Slade and Wilson's solos, brightly expressive within stylistic limits, but, in the Milan, Leslie Timmons on bass recorder.
Among the instrumental soloists lutenist Herald R. Clark brought an almost percussive sound to two fantasias of Francesco da Milano, harpsichordist Ruth Helm clarity and taste to a Frescobaldi toccata and Timmons an admirable if not always flawlessly applied stylistic sense to a Bononcini divertimento, in which she was partnered most flavorfully by Helm and gambist Mary Johnson.
But it was the array of instruments that impressed as much as anything, from the recorder trio in Ruffo's "La Gamba," here piquant and alive, to the quartet of crumhorns approximating the bagpipes in "Un Sonar de Piva." Likewise the vocal balances in Vecchi's "So Ben Mi Cha Bon Tempo," which had everyone "fa-la-la"-ing merrily, and three love songs from Monteverdi's "Scherzi Musicali," notable for their elegance and elan.
Rounding out the evening were songs of Josquin and Gastoldi, the first as enjoyable for their wit as for their deft mix of textures and intertwining of voices.
Like the music they play, this group deserves to be heard more often.