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MUSIC REVIEW

Noyse's improvising sells its period work

February 26, 2003|Richard S. Ginell | Special to The Times

The King's Noyse -- the early-music group that aims to re-create the sound and repertory of the Renaissance violin band -- took over the recently renovated Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Sunday afternoon (another brainstorm from the Chamber Music in Historic Sites series). Needless to say, the subtle, sandy-textured ambience of their music making made quite a contrast with that of the tourist circus outside on Hollywood Boulevard.

For this occasion, the King's Noyse mostly dipped into the 17th century Italian madrigal and dance repertory that they played on their "Pavaniglia" album, with a few adjustments to transfer guitar and chitarrone parts to the harpsichord.

Director David Douglass is not averse to taking up the period practice of departing from the written text, adding his own parts skillfully to the opening dance "Lagrimosa belta." Best of all, he composed his own bracing Tarantella in period style -- which, though trimmed a bit in length, was more compelling than many of the other things on the program.

Soprano Ellen Hargis sang with her typical luminosity and understanding, particularly in some inventive writing by Monteverdi. Yet the ensemble's rhythms could have used more lift and energy, and the period instruments were more recalcitrant than usual in matters of tuning. And it wasn't a great idea to end the program with Luigi Rossi's downcast lament "Leave Avernus, o sorrow, and follow me!" and its mournful postlude.

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