The Harlequin Art Collective chamber ensemble consisting of flutist Dani Bošnjak, trombone player Alan Bošnjak, vibraphonist Šimun Matišić, accordion player Stjepan Vuger and soprano Marta Schwaiger performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s collection of canons, fugues and other pieces based on a single musical theme titled Musikalisches Opfer or The Musical Offering and the song cycle Poèmes pour Mi by Olivier Messiaen last night, 19 August at the Bunić-Kaboga Summer Villa in a concert sponsored by the Caboga Stiftung foundation.
The unique ensemble with a new and unusual sound, they opened the concert with Ricercar a 3 – a three-voice fugue, Sonata sopr'il Soggetto Reale – a trio sonata featuring the flute and Ricercar a 6 – a six-voice fugue from Johann Sebastian Bach’s collection of canons, fugues and other pieces based on a single musical theme titled Musikalisches Opfer or The Musical Offering, a work considered today to be one of the most complex in the entirety of music history. For the nine song cycle Poèmes pour Mi by Olivier Messiaen arranged by Šimun Matišić, soprano Marta Schwaiger took to the stage. The ease with which the soprano performed the extremely challenging notes and the ensemble who accompanied her with their marvellous playing made the sweltering evening that much more bearable and unique. The audience showed their appreciation with a long round of applause, while vibraphonist Šimun Matišić and flutist Dani Bošnjak gave a special musical treat for the crowd in the garden above the Villa.
The Harlequin Art Collective chamber ensemble was founded in Zagreb in early 2018 at the initiative of Dani Bošnjak and, though seemingly at first the atypical combination of instruments and voice is actually highly harmonious and compatible, rich in musical possibilities. Harlequin musicians are active in many fields. Šimun Matišić, who was proclaimed the future of jazz in Croatia by the jazz legend Boško Petrović when he was just twelve years old, is completing his studies in percussion and composition at the Zagreb Academy of Music. Stjepan Vuger’s graduation concert, where he was supposed to conduct the performance of Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Šimun Matišić’s Piano concerto, was cancelled last spring due to the pandemic but he is already very active as an educator and conductor. He graduated in accordion under Borut Zagoranski at the Department of Music, University of Pula. Marta Schwaiger graduated in singing at the Vienna Conservatory under Robert Fontane and, besides her other engagements, often performs at the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb. Dani and Alan Bošnjak have, in addition to their permanent engagements with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and the Croatian National Theatre of Zagreb Opera Orchestra respectively, performed in numerous other ensembles and chamber combinations.