Outside of elementary school music rooms, the heyday of the recorder was in the baroque era, prior to the ascension of the modern flute. Laura Osterlund, one of the Musician’s Club of Women scholarship award winners, is a rare modern musician who has specialized in the instrument. Her talents, which were showcased alongside collaborative harpist Annette Bjorling at a Chicago Cultural Center concert on Monday, are immense.
Telemann and Vivaldi, both prolific composers of the baroque period, kicked off the program – the Telemann was a solo piece, and the Vivaldi concerto in C major brought in the harp. The combination of the harp and the recorder on the Vivaldi concerto were my first experience with the combination of the instruments, and I must say the fusion is a treat. Harps pre-date other polyphonic string instruments like the piano – Osterlund clearly has a heart for period music.
The music went back even further, to the 15th century, with a piece from the Faenza Codex, an anonymously compiled collection of music from the era. The pieces in the codex served as inspiration for Osterlund’s own major student composition project, entitled Agnus Dei Cunctipotens Genitor Deus, which she performed as well, allowing us to compare her piece in the style of the codex with an original work it contained. The lone modern work on the program was one by 20th century composer Bernard Krainis, who worked with traditional Jewish themes. For a finale, the duo dipped back to the Baroque with Arcangelo Corelli’s famous La Folia theme and variations.
Osterlund used at least four recorders over the course of the program – I have since learned that they vary in range and tonal qualities. Bjorling at the harp was interesting to watch as well; I know very little about either instrument. I now know that when played well the instruments create beautiful music music together. I have yet to be disappointed by these lunchtime concerts put on by the Musicians Club of Women – if you’re ever in the area on the fourth Monday of the month check them out under the Tiffany dome at the Cultural Center at 12:15 sharp.
Thanks for reading.