The New York Times: Asteria – Bargemusic

by ZACHARY WOLFE

The gifted early-music duo Asteria — the tenor and lutenist Eric Redlinger and the soprano Sylvia Rhyne — returned to Bargemusic on Sunday afternoon with a concert entitled “The Body Departs — the Heart Remains With You.”

That is the opening line of the intense song by Antoine Busnoys that closed the first half. It was also an apt summary of the courtly sentiments on display throughout a program that ranged from anonymous songs to well-known ballads by Guillaume Dufay (“J’attandray tant” and “Se la face ay pale”), from the rich unison of “Quant la doulce jouvencelle” to Gilles Binchois’s defiant “Pour Prison.”

Supplying apposite spoken introductions, Mr. Redlinger and Ms. Rhyne used the cleverly ordered music to tell the story of the knight Yvain (Ivanhoe), a star of the Arthurian romances that originated in the 12th century but took on new popularity in the 15th, when the songs in the program were written.

The duo’s self-presentation occasionally verged on the precious, with the Renaissance-style goblet for water and the sheer ribbon Mr. Redlinger used as a strap on his lute. But his lute playing was appealingly fresh and rough, and Ms. Rhyne sang with a clean, eloquent voice, subtle vibrato and a sure sense of diction.

Even more important than her clear presentation of the words, though, was a pointing of their meaning. Her slight, bitter elongation of the “pl” sound in “plaisir” in the first line of Binchois’s “Seule Esgarée” brought the song’s expression of abandonment acutely to life.

September 26, 2012
A version of this review appeared in print on September 26, 2012, on page C2 of the New York edition with the headline: Music in Review.

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