From time to time you may have heard us play the recordings of the Philadelphia-based Renaissance Band, Piffaro (rhymes with Figaro). The name comes from the double reed instruments of the oboe family, which were descended from the shawms of the Medieval era.
Well, the Piffaro Renaissance Band has quite an active touring schedule, and it turns out I’ve been able to hear them live several times, including on Saturday evening on the Gretna Music series up in Lancaster County, PA. They’re very engaging to watch, because all the musicians are astonishingly versatile, and play a variety of instruments–including the whole range (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) of the double reed family; the whole family of recorders; bagpipes; various percussion instruments; a harp; sackbuts (early trombones); and plucked instruments, like the lute and the early Spanish guitar, which looks more like a ukulele in size. They treated us to a program that was as varied as their musicality, with music from England, France, Spain, Italy and the Low Countries. What’s interesting is to see is the symphony orchestra in embryo in the band’s line-up, complete with percussion, brass, woodwind and strings (made up of plucked instruments–harp, lute and early guitar). It’s all really just a wonderful continuum, isn’t it?
chamber music, music