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Baroque on the Border: Camerata del Sol presents two concerts

Hector Torres (holding his theorbo) and baroque violinist Beth Wenstrom, guest artists this weekend with Camerata del Sol in the KRWG studios.
Leora Zeitlin
Hector Torres (holding his theorbo) and baroque violinist Beth Wenstrom, guest artists this weekend with Camerata del Sol, in the KRWG studios.

It was the very sound of baroque music and instruments – “that raw sound, it felt a little bit earthier” – that drew violinist Beth Wenstrom to specialize in the music of the 17th and early 18th centuries. The distinctive approach to playing the notes, the different style of instruments and bows, and the improvisational element, all added to the appeal. This weekend, the New York-based musician is in Las Cruces as a guest concertmaster to lead Camerata del Sol in two concerts featuring music by seven baroque composers.

Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin sat down with Wenstrom and Hector Torres, who will play the theorbo in the concerts, to talk about baroque style, the history of the theorbo, the pieces on the program, and more. Among the works they will perform is “Las Folias,” by Andrea Falconieri, based on a famous ground – or chord progression – that inspired numerous composers of the era. “You have a chord progression; you ornament or improvise or do variations on top of it, and you’ll have a guitar player strumming chords in the background,” Torres said. “You take the opportunity to show off you’re your compositional skills as much as possible, and really your improvisational skills.”

Listen to the interview to hear Torres strum a short sequence on his theorbo, and the two of them discuss the music, including Archangelo Correlli (“everyone revered Corelli’s compositions,” said Wenstrom), a cello concerto by Antonio Vivaldi, and works by Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Isabella Leonarda, Tomaso Albinoni, and Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello.

The concerts are Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Atkinson Recital Hall in Las Cruces, and 7 p.m. at the Loretto Academy Chapel in El Paso.

Hector Torres

Musical clips heard in the interview:

1.) “Las Folias,” by Andrea Falconieri, performed by Ensemble Caprice, Matthias Maute conducting (Analekta 9132);

2.) “Concerto Grosso in F, Op. 6, No. 2,” by Archangelo Corelli, performed by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Nicholas McGegan conducting (Harmonia Mundi 907104);

3.) “Cello Concerto in D minor, RV 407,” by Joseph Haydn, performed by Ofra Harnoy, the Toronto Chamber Orchestra, Paul Robinson conducting (RCA 61578).