Ice Cream and French Fries

​Review of Musica Transalpina at Seattle Baroque Orchestra/Early Music Guild

Elizabeth Blumenstock

Baroque music, anyone? Yes, please!

The Seattle Baroque Orchestra’s enticing performance, Musica Transalpina with the Guest Director Elizabeth Blumenstock, brings the audience 17th century music in perfect bite-sized pieces. It’s like a box of chocolates: “You never know what you’re gonna get”. But unlike life, all of them are pleasant surprises. (If you didn’t get the reference, watch Forrest Gump.)

Unlike other orchestra concerts I have been to, the musicians hold open conversations with the audience in between pieces in order to explain the mystery behind baroque music. For example, the chromatic notes such as E♭ and D# were once two different tones, which meant longer chromatic scales for musicians to learn. As a flautist myself, I am thankful that this phenomenon doesn’t exist anymore. Who wants to learn more notes anyway?

Blumenstock’s solo performance with the harpsichord, Sonata seconda detta la luciminia contenta written by Marco Uccellini, gives a sense of thrill to the ears of the audience. Her mastery of the violin and embellishment used in the piece shows her dedication to bringing baroque music to life. The rest of the orchestra also shows its enthusiasm for the music with energetic performances.

Also, for the first time in my life, I was a witness to the playing of a harpsichord, which I did not even know existed until the concert. It is just like discovering that ice cream tastes heavenly with fries. Seriously. The delightful sound of the harpsichord is definitely distinct from that of a piano; it is more concise, yet fluid in its runs. The only flaw of the instrument may be the need for constant tuning due to chromatic notes of the baroque style.

Other pieces, such as Sonata X by Antonio Bertali, showcase the usage of perfect thirds and the balance between Blumenstock and Melsted, the two violinists of the orchestra. The performance showcases what has made baroque music so intriguing to the musicians over the years. The concert goes by in a hurry before you can think ‘boring’. For those who've never been to such a concert before, I highly recommend you to attend one of Seattle Baroque Orchestra’s performances. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Musica Transalpina was a one-night event
Next up at Early Music Guild:

Lucidarium: Una Festa Ebraica – Celebrating Life

Italy’s premier ensemble for medieval and Renaissance music plays Jewish party music!
Saturday, November 16
8:00 PM
Town Hall
More info at

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