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Music From the Birds

Les Inégales, the Baroque and early music ensemble cofounded by Lakeville musician Christine Gevert, presents the next in its series of concerts at the Spectrum Playhouse (formerly St. George Church) in Lee, MA, this weekend. The subject is birds. From the earliest of times, birds have fascinated composers. Nearly every century has examples of composers using, or attempting to re-create, bird songs. In the 19th century, the second movement of Beethoven’s sixth symphony uses the call of the cuckoo as a musical motif. In the 20th, Ottorino Respighi used an actual recording of a nightingale as a feature of his famous tone poem, “The Pines of Rome,” and the French composer Olivier Messiaen wrote numerous works that are semi-direct transcriptions of bird songs. In contemporary times, we have Paul Winter keeping alive the sounds of birds and wildlife in his music. But it is the music of the Baroque (1600 to 1750) and earlier that gives us some of the most literal and intriguing musical expressions of bird song. Gevert, on harpsichord, joined by Tricia van Oers on recorder, will play some of these notable pieces, including selections from “The Bird Fancier’s Delight,” a collection of English tunes from the 1700s that were designed to teach songbirds, and Antonio Vivaldi’s “Il Gardelino” (The Goldfinch). Also included are Renaissance and Baroque composers such as van Eyck, Rameau, Couperin and Scarlatti. The same day as the concert, Gevert will talk about the legacy of Wanda Landowska, the visionary early 20th-century harpsichordist who was largely responsible for reviving interest in the instrument and in early music in general, establishing the École de Musique Ancienne (Academy of Ancient Music) in Paris in 1925. Born to Jewish parents in Europe, Landowska fled to America in 1941 to escape the Nazi occupation and ended up in Lakeville, where she died in 1959. The talk and concert take place Oct. 1; the talk at 11 a.m. and the concert 5 p.m., at the Spectrum Playhouse, 20 Franklin St. in Lee. The events are free, but donations are welcome ($15 suggested for the concert, $10 for the lecture). For tickets and information, go to www.gobaroque.org, or call (860)318-1812.

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