As 2022 comes to a close, check out EMA’s 10 most popular features and reviews from the world of early music. For more news, profiles, and ideas, subscribe to EMA’s weekly E-Notes newsletter.
#10 – How Goes Gesualdo?
By Parker Ramsey
In some repertoire, the gulf between singers and instrumentalists is narrowing. The author calls it ‘among the more exciting developments in historical performance,’ which might reshape our understanding of Italian Renaissance music.
#9 – A Happy Return at Viola da Gamba Society’s Conclave 2022
By Jacob Jahiel
After two pandemic years, the Viola da Gamba Society of America returned to an in-person Conclave, and almost 200 viol enthusiasts attended. One satisfied gambist filed an one-the-scene report.
#8 – Historically Inspired Set Design for Haymarket’s Monteverdi
By Anne E. Johnson
Haymarket Opera’s new “Coronation of Poppea” production, opening next week, includes hand-painted sets done with historically informed design and techniques. The modern-day secret is a material that was well known to 17th-century theater artists: distemper paint.
#7 – South Asian Singers Find a Home in Early Music
By Natasha Gauthier
Sopranos Maya Kherani, Sherezade Panthaki, and tenor Asitha Tennekoon are among a growing number of South Asian musicians working to promote more diversity in early-music casting and programming while building their own impressive careers. “I knew what it was like to not have role models,” says Kherani. “I thought if I could change that for one young person by being proud and open about my heritage, I should do it.”
#6 – An Urgent ‘St. Matthew Passion’ for Our Time
By Thomas May
Pinchon and his superb singers and ensemble offer an immersive, all-encompassing experience. What makes this interpretation a significant contribution to the vast Matthäus-Passion discography is the admirable balance it finds between dramatic, contemplative, and even architectural approaches, too often taken as polarities.
#5 – The Extraordinary Life of One of Colonial America’s Earliest Musicians
By Sophie Genevieve Lowe
The turbulent life of John Antes, an American of pluck and imagination, is part of global histories on colonialism, revolution, nationalism and religion, and international trade. It reads like an early-music adventure novel.
#4 – How Much ‘Historical’ Performance Do We Really Want?
By Andrew Appel
A new recording of Debussy’s opera raises complicated and interesting questions on issues of vocal sound and the attitude towards performance style. Do we want to adopt every aspect of Debussy’s sound world into our own? Do we prefer to call upon the highly refined and skilled vocal qualities that are prevalent today, or are we obliged to adhere to the styles of the past?
#3 – We’ve thought a lot about Bach. Time for ‘Rethinking Bach.’
By Mark Kroll
This fascinating book—rich in historical and analytical detail—offers many surprising reevaluations of long-held beliefs. With essays ranging from consumer culture in Bach’s Leipzig and Bach’s humor to an outright dismissal of ‘Affektenlehre’ and heated questions of antisemitism, the book is always provocative, often controversial, and smartly argued.
#2 – Let’s Talk About Antisemitism in Our Field
By Ian Pomerantz
As a society, we are finally having conversations that aim to upend systemic injustice. But there’s been curiously little discussion about the ancient hatred of antisemitism, which has seen a resurgence across the political spectrum. Even as American Jewish institutions have come under fatal attack, this conversation has taken a backseat in the early-music community.
#1 – Meet the Organetto, the Original Laptop
By Kyle MacMillan
The organetto was typically played perpendicularly on a performer’s lap and was one of the most popular instruments in the 13th and the 14th centuries. None survive. What experts know today about the organetto comes from its depiction in hundreds of medieval paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and stained-glass windows.