Recorder virtuoso stars with Philharmonia Baroque

Courtesy photoChamber music master: Marion Verbruggen appears in Italian-themed concerts with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra this weekend.

Time has not been kind to the recorder, but virtuoso Marion Verbruggen has.

The Dutch musician, appearing with San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in several Bay Area concerts this weekend, is among the instrument’s best-known masters.

Winner of many international competitions, she teaches at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, and performs with chamber music ensembles around the world.

Verbruggen calls San Francisco, where she often returns, “a special place. It’s one of my favorites: There’s a love for the music, and the public reaction is fantastic.” She adds, with a smile, “And the weather is a little better than at home.”

At age 5, Verbruggen started making music with the recorder. But unlike many who switch to more popular, powerful orchestral woodwind instruments such as the flute, oboe and clarinet, she made the recorder her primary instrument. (She also plays clarinet and various Renaissance and Middle Ages instruments, however.)

Verbruggen, who has made albums for major labels such as BMG, EMI, Erato and Harmonia Mundi, is acclaimed for effortless playing, florid ornaments, crisp accents and liquid passages while maintaining ideal breath control. She plays all kinds of recorders, including the tenor-, alto- and soprano-voiced instruments.

Among her specialties are her own recorder transcriptions of Bach’s Cello Suites and of 17th-century Spanish music originally written for various instruments.

The program for this weekend’s concert, called “Marion Verbruggen and the Italian Baroque Recorder,” includes concertos by Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Alto Recorder (“La Tempeste di Mare”) and Giuseppe Sammartini’s Concerto for Soprano Recorder, with Verbruggen as the soloist, and late 17th- and early-18th-century orchestral works by Corelli, Gregori, Geminiani and Scarlatti.

Making his Northern California debut is conductor Ottavio Dantone, music director of the Accademia Bizantina Orchestra, a period instrument ensemble in Ravenna, Italy.

 

IF YOU GO

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra with soloist Marion Verbruggen

Where: Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $25 to $90

Contact: (415) 252-1288, www.cityboxoffice.com, www.philharmonia.org

Note: Concerts also are at 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley.

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