Yesterday afternoon Shirley and I enjoyed the Cornucopia Baroque Ensemble at Pomona College. The ensemble consists of Alfred Cramer, Baroque violin; Roger Lebow, Baroque cello; Carolyn Beck, Baroque bassoon; and Fraydon Becks, harpsichord.
The program featured works by Geroef Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1691-1755), Philipp Friedrich Böddecker (1607-1683) and Domenico Gabrielli (1659-1690). Not being particularly steeped in Baroque chamber music, none of these composers were familiar to us but we will make sure that in the future we seek out performances of their work.
The whole concert was of the high quality that we have come to expect at these affairs. I’m not sure if the instruments were actually from the Baroque period or Baroque instruments of a more recent vantage. I suspect the later. In any case, they were wonderful and wonderfully played. Keeping the strings, particularly the cello, in tune was a bit of a challenge but Lebow and Cramer managed it with skill and without hindering the performance in any way.
Shirley pointed out the following abnormal item regarding Prof. Lobow, who, like the others, teaches at Pomona College. I quote from the printed program.
Mr. Lebow is also on the faculty of Chapman University and the Claremont Graduate University. Formerly at Occidental College, he has also been on the guest faculty of CalArts, UC Irvine, and UC Bjoerling.[emphasis added]
Since we arrived a little early for the concert, the reference to UC Bjoerling gave us something to discuss. Was this some kind of a typo? But what kind? Was it a joke? If so, what makes it funny?
Well, a little over a year ago, Elaine Fine of Musical Assumptions noticed the same thing and reported that it is a joke, a joke that we were too stupid to get. I think the reference is to the Swedish tenor, Johan Jonatan Björling. Roger Lebow is the father of the contemporary tenor Theo Lebow. As always, explaining a joke makes it less funny. For this kind of humor one needs to get it immediately or its impact dissipates before the laughter begins.
Aside from trying to decipher the meaning of UC Bjoerling, for us the highlight of the afternoon was the Carolyn Beck’s work on the bassoon. Seldom does one get to hear bassoon solo interludes. Her’s were great. We particularly enjoyed her efforts in Telemann’s “Trio Sonata in F Major” and “Trio Sonata in B-flat. ” If I could listen to only one of these a second time, I think I’d choose the B-flat Sonata but it’s a close call.