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08 January 2021
"It is a pleasure to hear these period instruments played with a skill that one sometime associates only with performance on modern instruments. For here is a generation of musicians who have lived most of their lives with early music, they appear to virtually breathe this aesthetic. There is no "translation" occurring of modern into "historic." The musical performance flows from them naturally, as if born to this aesthetic. And De Fesch's music shimmers and dances in their hands. It is such a pleasure listening to this music so delightfully performed."Positive Feedback, 28-1-2024
Conductor/lutenist Mike Fentross has largely earned his credits as an early music specialist. He is working all over Europe as a conductor, soloist and basso continuo player and he is professor of lute and basso continuo at the Royal Conservatory The Hague. In 2006 he founded the baroque orchestra La Sfera Armoniosa.
Mike Fentross conducted in many festivals and concerthalls like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. the Festival van Vlaanderen, Festival d’Ambronay, Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht, Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci, Paradiso Amsterdam, Monteverdi Festival Cremona, Festival de Musica Portico de Zamora, Festival Musica Antiqua Brugge, Vantaa Early Music Festival, Bayreuth Barock and Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht. For two times
he had the honour to conduct in the presence of Queen Beatrix of Holland. In 1988 Mike Fentross graduated at the Royal Conservatory The Hague where he studied with lute pionier Toyohiko Satoh. In 1994 he won the Van Wassenaer Competition in Amsterdam with violinist Helene Schmitt. He played chamber music with musicians as Yo Yo Ma, Ton Koopman, Janine Jansen, Marion Verbruggen, Sonia Prina, Maria Bajo, Wilbert Hazelzet, Bruce Dickey, Lucy van Dael, Andrew Lawrence King, Philippe Jarousski, Eduardo Lopez Banzo, Skip Sempe and Gerard Lesne. Mike has recorded more than 75 cd’s.
He studied conducting with Stefan Pas. As conductor he debuted in 1999 with La Dafne from Marco da Gagliano in a production of the New Opera Academie in Amsterdam. In 2006 he conducted in the presence of Queen Beatrix the modern world premiere from the opera l’Ipermestra from Cavalli in a prestigeous jubilee production from the Utrecht Early Music Festival and in 2008 he conducted a second unearthed Cavalli opera La Rosinda in a production from the Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci Potsdam. In 2009 he conducted for the first time in the big hall from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and in the same year he was musical director in the production Granida performed in the presence of Queen Beatrix. About his debut as conductor from the Dutch Chamber Choir in 2010 in the Concertgebouw the press wrote: Conductor Mike Fentross rivalled Caravaggio with the score of the Maria Vespers. His first time conducting the Nederlands Kamerkoor was a resounding success.
Mike doesn’t only conduct Early Music, in 2004 he conducted Pierrot Lunaire from Arnold Schoenberg. The press wrote: There was great enthusiasm for Mike Fentross as conductor of a double bill consisting of Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire. Mike Fentross gave a performance of Pierrot lunaire that ‘appeared to come from another planet’.
In 2012 Mike made his Austrian debut in the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt with great success in a program with coloratura soprano Simone Kermes and in the same year he conducted the pre jubilee concert for the Concertgebouw in a program with solo violinist Lucy van Dael and singers Henk Neven and Andreas Scholl. In 2013 he conducted the Fairy Queen with his orchestra and the Netherlands Chamberchoir.
Since 2013 he is regularly conducting the baroque orchestra and choir of the Royal Conservatory. In 2014 he was invited by Paradiso Orchestra to conduct Beethovens Eroica. In 2016 he conducted the Netherlands Chamber Choir in a Bach, Faure program live broadcast on national radio.
Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde is a versatile musician whose repertoire ranges from the late-17th to the 20th century. She researches and uses techniques and instruments according to the time of the music she plays.
After studying modern cello with Denis Brott and Carole Sirois at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal, Octavie received the Prix avec Grande Distinction in 2011. Following her interest in performance practice, she studied baroque cello with Susie Napper in Montreal and with Viola de Hoog in Amsterdam. As a young musician, Octavie regularly won prizes in national competitions in Quebec and Canada and regularly attended masterclasses and courses with internationally renowned soloists and pedagogues. She received prizes as a soloist at the International Competition “Concours Corneille” in France and the Early Music Competition in Yamanashi, Japan. Her musical endeavors were supported by grants from the Canada Arts Council, the Banff Center for the Arts and the CALQ.
Currently focusing on the historical performance of late Baroque, Classical and Romantic repertoires, she performs recitals regularly with fortepiano player and harpsichordist Artem Belogurov. Together, they took part in the Oude Muziek Festival Utrecht, Festival Montreal Baroque, the International Young Artist Presentation in Antwerp, Festival Royaumont, the Fortepiano Festival Zaandijk, among others. Their first CD will be issued later this year on the label Challenge Classics and is centered around mid-18th century German music for violoncello piccolo.
In Europe, she regularly performs with groups such as Ensemble Masques, Vox Luminis, La Sfera Armoniosa, Il Gardellino, Orchestra of the 18th century, and the Nieuwe Philharmonie Utrecht. She was selected for the 2017 Experience Scheme with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Handel House Talent 2018-2019 and the Monteverdi Apprenticeship 2019-2020. An avid chamber musician, she co-founded the period ensemble Postscript, which has performed during Oude Muziek Festival Utrecht and MA Festival Brugge, among others. While still in Montreal, Octavie performed with many ensembles including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Caprice, les Rendez-vous baroque français, Les Lys Naissants and the chamber groups Epsilon, quintette à cordes, Ensemble Arkea, Ensemble Allogène, Ensemble Paramirabo and the Ensemble BOP. Her recordings can be heard on labels such as Alpha Classics, Passacaille, Challenge Classics, Brilliant Classics and TRPTK.
She was the co-director of Romberg Dagen, a festival celebrating the composer and cellist Bernhard Romberg and the performance of 19th-century music, which took place in Amsterdam in May 2018. Her current research is centered on the performance practice of late 19th and early 20th century through the imitation of early recordings: these experiments are explored on the Romantic Lab blog.
Octavie has the pleasure of playing a Thomas Dodd cello from 1800 on loan from the Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds of the Netherlands, as well as her own ca.1700 baroque cello by Johann Michael Alban.
It is a pleasure to hear these period instruments played with a skill that one sometime associates only with performance on modern instruments. For here is a generation of musicians who have lived most of their lives with early music, they appear to virtually breathe this aesthetic. There is no "translation" occurring of modern into "historic." The musical performance flows from them naturally, as if born to this aesthetic.
And De Fesch's music shimmers and dances in their hands. It is such a pleasure listening to this music so delightfully performed.
Positive Feedback, 28-1-2024
the spirit, the alacrity, the variety of colors - in one word the happiness to play - spring from the lively direction by Mike Fentross.
Van der Voort's playing shines through. I love the way she leans into the dissonances, and her dexterity in fast movements is quite remarkable.
American Record Guide, 01-9-2021
La Sfera Armoniosa is a high-quality ensemble that deploys its quality especially in little known repertoire and that – in this recording – delivers some accounts of great value.
With no church acoustic to smooth things over there are one or two mildly scratchy moments in these performances, but if you are a fan of this period and are looking for something other than Vivaldi then this will be of interest.
Musicweb International, 01-3-2021
Today it is Mike Fentross who, with his group La Sfera Armoniosa and a stunning Lidewij van der Voort as first violin, offers a beautiful selection of his [De Fesch] concertos, drawn from different stages of his output: this way it is possible to follow his stylistic development and, most of all, to fully taste a music that is firmly constructed and is equipped with a subtle and poetic melodic gift in the slow movements [...] With this more than compelling account, Fentross thoroughly confirms that Willem de Fesch is not a mere anecdote in the 18th Century musical landscape. There is much to enjoy in this excellent disc.
This recording is a discographic asset that will hopefully be continued.
Het Parool, 15-1-2021