Margaret Irwin-Brandon returned to Portland on September 18, 2016 to the delight of her many friends who knew her work in Portland during the 1970s. Before leaving Portland to eventually teach at Mount Holyoke College and other locations, Meg, as she is known to her friends, established two early music groups in Portland: The Early Music Calliope and La Chanterelle.
Her program for the afternoon began with two pieces by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck; Toccata in D Minor and the vivid Fantasia Chromatica. Adventurous pieces by Michelangelo Rossi and Bernardo Storace followed, played on an Italian harpsichord by Salem builder, Owen Daly. This instrument was tuned in meantone and Meg encouraged listeners to enjoy the pungency of some intervals which were enthusiastically exploited by the composers for drama.
The Chromatic Pavan & Galliard (Queen Elizabeth’s) by John Bull as well as the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue by J.S. Bach were played with spirit and flair on the Franco-Flemish double manual harpsichord by Ken Bakeman, previously active in Seattle. The final set of pieces from Componimenti musicali per il cembalo (1739) by Johann Gottlieb Muffat included a colorful and expressive suite of six movements and a Ciacona.
The audience enjoyed a Sweelinck Echo Fantasia (Dorian) as an encore, with the echo played very effectively on a virginal with closed lid placed at the back of the house. WEKA board member, Angeline Case-Stott performed as the echo.
Meg played with all the beauty, insight, and sensitivity that Portlanders have heard in the past and were drawn to hear again. The reception was brimming with everyone’s warmth and eagerness to renew their acquaintance with Meg.
Meg’s current project is “Desert Baroque Presents: The Suite Life,” a weekend of exciting harpsichord masterclasses and recitals in Palm Springs, to be held January 20-22, 2017. Please read more about this wonderful event at desertbaroque.com