By Suyash Gabriel
In a performance that revived European history and turned the wheels of time to take one back to the days of maestros such as Bach, Handel and Vivaldi, French soprano singer Dominique Moaty alongside Justin McCarthy on the harpischord, breathed a new lease of life into the long forgotten artistic style of classical Baroque music. The form is known to have evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries. The duo delivered a powerful and emotionally-charged performance titled Europa Barocca at India International Centre recently.
The Baroque period and its artforms are typically characterised by exaggerated motion and easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, and grandeur in various sculptures, paintings, architecture, literature, dance, and music.
The multilingual concert was divided into three movements which represented three different hubs of Baroque evolution — France, Italy and England — and featured songs with themes about heartache and lost love. Under the four spotlights, the performance was dramatically charged with all the theatrics in place, exaggerated gestures and pronounced expressions. “Baroque music is an intimate form which connects with its audience, which is why it didn’t matter that we played in three different languages. The audience should still be able to understand the theme and the mood,” said McCarthy.
The rattling sounds of harpsichord were a perfect match for Moaty’s powerful yet controlled vibrato that resonated in the auditorium, overpowering the space on regular intervals. “I sing other types of music as well, but there is something magical about Baroque music and this period of history. I’m fascinated with this time in history, with the evolution of the Italian perspective of theatre and the evolution of the soloist voice,” said Moaty, who added that she’s always been interested in the melancholic themes including emptiness, patience and longing used in the songs of this period. She reiterated that India also underwent a similar period with the evolution of the Bharatnatyam dance form. “I love the dramatic and expressive nature of theatre and art that evolved during this period,” she added.
McCarthy, who is an American-born Bharatnatyam dancer, plays the classical piano and the harpsichord and has been living and performing in India for over three decades. “I’ve been playing this instrument for over seven years. I think, it’s only now that people are getting used to new sounds. I hope they are not as strange to them anymore,” he said.