JACOB VAN EYCK We open the concerts with a set of variations for solo recorder by the early seventeenth century Dutch carillonneur and recorder player Jacob van Eyck. He was carillonneur of the Domkerk, Janiskerk, Jacobikerk, and city hall in Utrecht, and director of the city’s bellworks, spearheading refinements in the casting and tuning of bells. In 1649, the sixty-year old van Eyck was offered a salary raise “provided that he would now and then in the evening entertain the people strolling in the churchyard with the sound of his little flute.” That same year he published two volumes of variations on popular tunes for solo recorder, named Der Fluyten Lust-Hof (The Flute’s Garden of Delights), presumably drawn from what he played in the churchyard.
ANTONIO VIVALDI The Four Seasons appeared in Vivaldi’s 1725 publication of twelve violin concertos entitled Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (Bold Experiments with Harmony and Invention). The Seasons, full of audacious experiments of every kind, were undoubtedly the inspiration for the title. The four concertos are accompanied by four sonnets, giving detailed descriptions of the programmatic elements of the music, which paint a vivid picture of life in the Italian countryside in the eighteenth century. The concertos are dazzling proof of Vivaldi’s skill as a violinist and his ingenuity and inventiveness as a composer. We offer a respite from winter this week with Vivaldi’s wonderful depiction of spring, and encourage you to follow the text of the sonnet below.
Guint’è la primavera e festosetti La salutan gl’augei con lieto canto, E i fonti allo spirar de’ zeffiretti Con dolce mormorio scorrono intanto.
Vengon’ coprendo l’aer di nero amanto E lampi, e tuoni ad annuntiarla eletti; Indi tacendo questi, gl’augellitti Tornan’ di nuovo al lor canoro incanto.
E quindi sul fiorito ameno prato Al caro mormorio di fronde e piante Dorme ’l caprar col fido can’ à lato. Di pastoral zampogna al suon festante Danzan ninfe e pastor nel tetto amato Di primavera all’apparir brillante.
Spring has come, and joyfully the birds welcome it with cheerful song, and the streams at the breath of zephyrs, flow swiftly with sweet murmurings.
But now the sky is cloaked in black, and lightning and thunder announce themselves; when they are silenced, the little birds return to fill the air with their sweet song.
Then on the pleasant flower-strewn meadow, to the gentle rustle of the leaves and branches, the goatherd rests, his faithful dog at his side. To the rustic bagpipe’s festive sound, nymphs and shepherds dance beneath the fair spring sky in all its glory
GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN
Another prolific composer of baroque instrumental concertos was Georg Philipp Telemann. Telemann stated that he was not a fan of the purely virtuoso solo concerto, and indeed we find that most of his concertos are more “conversational” than “exhibitionist,” and that many feature more than one solo instrument. We feature two of these this week: a Concerto for recorder and bassoon, and a Concerto for 3 violins.
Telemann was an accomplished player of wind instruments, and his writing for winds is wonderfully idiomatic — well crafted and satisfying to play. The dialogue between the recorder and bassoon in the F-Major Concerto is by turns lyrical and playful. Winds are also prominent in the Quartet in G Major, which features the same instruments as the Vivaldi Concerto da camera.
The Concerto for 3 violins appears in the second volume of Telemann’s famous publication titled Musique de table, or Tafelmusik (from which we draw our name!). The title refers to the custom of entertaining guests at ceremonial meals and banquets with music. Each of the three volumes includes an orchestral suite, a concerto for multiple instruments, and a selection of chamber music. The publication was sold on subscription, and the list of subscribers is impressive, including composers, musicians, statesmen, and nobility from all over Europe.
Telemann chooses a different orchestration for each piece in the collection, and explores different styles. The Italianate Concerto for 3 violins shows the clear influence of Vivaldi. All of the music in the three volumes is full of charm, wit, and vivacity, and is designed, ultimately, to entertain.
Safe Haven is an exploration in music, words, and images of the influence of refugee populations on the culture of their adopted countries. From the beginning of human history, war, persecution, poverty, and climate crises have caused people to abandon their homes and seek asylum beyond their borders. The British poet Warsan Shire, who was born of Somali parents in Kenya, has captured the anguish of making the decision to leave one’s own country in her poem called Home:
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbours running faster than you
you have to understand
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
Religious persecution in early modern Europe caused several waves of migration which profoundly influenced the commerce and culture of host communities. The largest diasporas resulted from the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain in the late fifteenth century and the outlawing of Protestantism in late seventeenth-century France.
For almost a century, the 1598 Edict of Nantes had provided protection for Huguenots, the French protestant followers of the sixteenth-century reformer Jean Calvin. In 1685, Louis XIV revoked the edict, ordering that Protestant churches be destroyed, schools be closed, clergy be deported, and lay people be forced to convert and remain in France. Protestant men caught leaving the country would be sent to the galleys, women would be imprisoned, and children would be confiscated.
In response to these threats, hundreds of thousands of farmers, scholars, bankers, lawyers, artists, and musicians left France in secret, and because they were said to be seeking “refuge,” people began to refer to them as “refugiés,” inspiring the first use of the English term “refugee.” France’s loss of human and economic capital became the gain of Europe’s cities — by 1700, a fifth of the population of Berlin and a quarter of the population of Amsterdam were French asylum seekers. The industries manufacturing Irish linen, Swiss clocks, South African wines, and Dutch paper were founded by refugee entrepreneurs bringing their technical expertise to their new communities.
The magnificence of Louis XIV’s Versailles had already had a strong influence on Northern European taste, and the arrival of French artists and musicians in London, Amsterdam, and Berlin helped to disseminate and solidify the liking for French goods and design. In October of 1685, Frederick William of Brandenburg and Prussia issued the Edict of Potsdam — an invitation to French refugees to make their homes in Germany. Prussian diplomats in Amsterdam arranged for sea transport to Hamburg, where the exiles were met by government representatives and escorted up the Elbe River to their chosen destinations. The newcomers were granted abandoned land and given building materials with which to erect new houses or repair old ones; the original landowners were fully compensated.
At the music-loving court of Celle, refugee actors and musicians were especially welcomed by the Duke’s French wife, Éléonore Desmier D’Obreuse, herself an ardent Huguenot. The Duke and Duchess kept a French orchestra mentioned by C.P.E. Bach in his account of his father’s life and musical influences:
[In 1700, when he was fifteen] Johann Sebastian went to St. Michael’s School in Lüneburg. Here he had the opportunity to listen to a famous orchestra kept by the Duke of Celle, consisting for the most part of Frenchmen: thus he received a thorough grounding in the French taste, which in those regions was at that time something quite new.
Many of the wind players in Lully’s orchestra had been Protestants, and in exile they helped to introduce the oboe, a new French instrument, to Germany. J.S. Bach was the most important composer of baroque music featuring the oboe (his cantatas feature more solos for oboe than for any other instrument), and it is likely that he was introduced to the instrument by the French oboists at the court of the Duke and Duchess of Celle.
French refugees also played a vital part in the dissemination of the music of Louis XIV’s official court composer, Jean-Baptiste Lully. The Huguenot theatre impressario Jean-Jacques Quesnot, who had been imprisoned in Grenoble on the charge of encouraging fellow Protestants to leave France, fled to the Netherlands and recognized a potential market in the new Francophone public in the Hague and Amsterdam. He organized performances of Lully’s Armide, Thesée, and Atys, and may have been the one to send a troupe of players to perform in a highly influential first full production of a Lully opera in London, Cadmus et Hermione.
Even more influential were the French music printers who set up shop in Amsterdam and began to publish the orchestral movements from Lully’s staged works in editions which were sold all over Europe. The most prominent of the Huguenot publishers was Éstienne Roger, who left Normandy as a young man in 1685, immediately after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. He apprenticed in the printing trade and began to publish grammars and dictionaries. He produced his first beautifully engraved music books in 1696, and by the time of his death in 1722 had published over 500 editions of works by Europe’s most famous composers.
The contract between Arcangelo Corelli and Roger concerning the publication of Corelli’s twelve concerti grossi, Opus 6, one of the most influential publications of the eighteenth century, was discovered in the Amsterdam city archives in the 1990s and reveals fascinating information about the relationship between composers and publishers.
The contract, written in French, indicates that Corelli and Roger had exchanged a number of letters about the publication and that Corelli had already sent one batch of concertos to Amsterdam. The others would follow and the entire set of twelve would be engraved and published together entirely at Roger’s expense. No money was exchanged, but it was arranged that Corelli would receive 150 free copies of the partbooks, to be sent over land and delivered to his doorstep. Roger would undertake to print an extra 150 copies to be deposited with Corelli’s Amsterdam agent until the first 150 arrived safely in Rome. Then Roger and Corelli would both be free to offer their 150 copies for sale.
Less than a year after the contract was concluded, Corelli died and the publication was gradually received by his heir, the violinist Matteo Fornari. It was possible at the time for an engraver to create four to six pages on copper plates in a week. There are 202 pages of engraved music divided among seven partbooks in the publication, which would have taken almost a year to produce. The music was sent to Rome in small batches to lessen the danger of accident or theft — probably seven bundles, each containing 150 copies of one part as it was finished. The music is so beautifully engraved that we still use copies of Roger’s editions in Tafelmusik performances today. Safe Haven ends with a joyful Allegro from the fourth concerto of the set, featuring two virtuosic solo violin parts in dialogue.
After Roger’s death, his business was taken over by his daughter Jeanne, and after her death by her sister’s husband, Michel-Charles Le Cène, who published Antonio Vivaldi’s most famous work, The Four Seasons, in 1725. Our concert about the cultural influence of Huguenot entrepreneurs, landing as it does in the January cold, is an appropriate setting for Elisa Citterio’s performance of “Winter,” part of the Four Seasons cycle which runs through our 2017/18 season.
Huguenots were not the only exiles who influenced the commerce and culture of seventeenth-century Holland. In January of 1492, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile had conquered Granada, ending an era of Muslim rule in the south of Spain which had lasted for seven centuries. Emboldened to the cause of Christianizing the entire peninsula, Ferdinand and Isabella issued a royal decree that ended a Jewish presence in Spain dating back to Roman times. All Jews had to convert to Christianity or leave Spain by August 2 of that year. Many submitted to an outward conversion to Christianity, and many fled to Portugal hoping for greater freedom of worship. After a few years, Portugal also turned on its Jewish population, and in 1536 the Portuguese Inquisition began to torment descendants of Jewish refugees. “Marranos,” converts who continued to practise Judaism in secret, came under increasing pressure and began to look for new homes in Italy, England, and Holland. After 1600, they were particularly welcomed in the port city of Amsterdam, where they established trading networks which greatly contributed to the prosperity of the city.
The poet João Pinto Delgado (1580–1653), who was of Spanish descent, was born in the south of Portugal and educated in Lisbon. In middle age he fled through France to Amsterdam, where he became a governor of the Talmud Torah Seminary. His autobiographical poetry, published in 1627, describes the experience of leaving Lisbon and arriving in a safe haven where Passover could be openly observed. We have set the Spanish verses from this poetry to music by the seventeenth-century Spanish composer Juan Hidalgo, who in 1633 became the official harp player to the royal chapel in Madrid.
In England, it was steadfast Catholics who were forced into exile by religious persecution. After Elizabeth I succeeded her Catholic half-sister Mary as queen of England, legislation was passed declaring the practice of Catholicism to be high treason, punishable by death. Though Catholic musicians were sometimes tolerated, the brilliant composer and keyboard virtuoso Peter Phillips felt his situation to be dangerous enough to warrant escape to the Continent. For three years he worked for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in Rome, where he was also engaged as organist at the English Jesuit College. In 1590 he settled in Belgium and began to exert a strong influence on the school of north-European keyboard music. The Amsterdam organist Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, whom Phillips visited in 1593, composed a set of variations on a famous pavan by Phillips; both the Phillips model and variations by Sweelinck are featured in the second half of our program.
Between the union of Poland and Lithuania in 1569 and the takeover of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by Russia in 1768, Poland was known as a place of relative religious toleration. The Warsaw Confederation Act of 1573 was the first piece of European legislation to guarantee freedom of worship, and by 1600 about three-quarters of the world’s Jewish population lived in Poland. Catholics from Scotland and Roma families fleeing persecution in the Hapsburg Empire also found new homes there. The Roma became closely associated with musical life in Poland, performing at the royal court, at weddings, and in country inns. Georg Philipp Telemann, who for three years was in the employ of Count Erdmann II at his Polish estates, wrote about having been influenced by the music that he heard at these country inns, and while he was in Poland he notated a number of melodies which he later incorporated into orchestral compositions. The work called “Mezzetin en turc” from his “Burlesque” Suite began life as one of these tunes, called “Polish Dances” in a manuscript in Telemann’s handwriting now found in Rostock.
The development of European musical instruments is closely bound up with the cross-fertilization brought about by the movement of peoples through trade and migration. The design of the early violin in the northern Italian cities of Brescia and Cremona was influenced by Sephardic Jewish luthiers who fled to the north of Italy in the late fifteenth century. A military census from 1520 in Cremona shows Andrea Amati as an apprentice in the household of one of these instrument builders. The European lute was an offspring of the Arabic oud, which had flourished in Muslim Spain for centuries.
Today in Canada the musical scene is enriched by the presence of many players of instruments which flourished around the world during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, providing us with exciting opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue. One of these instruments is the west African kora, a plucked instrument made from a calabash covered in hide, with a neck bearing 21 strings. The kora was played by members of distinguished bardic families in Mali, where improvised music accompanied epic narratives which were passed down from generation to generation. Our guest artist, Diely Mori Tounkara, is the member of such a family from Mali and now lives in Montreal. He and our other guests, Maryem Tollar and Naghmeh Farahmand, are enriching Canadian musical life through their performing and teaching, passing down ancient traditions to a new generation of Canadian musicians. We are honoured to share our stage with these guests.
The final section of our concert explores some of the rich cultural traditions of West Africa and Mali in particular, traditions which were unknown to the Europeans who profited from the Atlantic slave trade, believing Africans to be somehow less than fully human. By 1700, ancient trade routes had connected the communities around the Niger River with the Mediterranean for a thousand years. Caravans conveying gold and ivory used in exquisite art works in Benin and Ghana travelled north across the Sahara to the coast, and returned with tablets of salt and reams of paper for the great centres of scholarship and manuscript production in the cities of Djenée and Timbuktu. In the eighteenth century, the favoured paper for the manuscripts of Mali came from Venice and was made in the same paper mills which supplied paper to Vivaldi. These fragile sheets of paper have survived the dangers of conflict and climate to bear witness to the common humanity of all who need safety and security to fully express our shared desire for knowledge and beauty.
The long-term effects of the slave trade still play a part in the complex story of human displacement today, for the great waves of refugee migration which occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are tragically not a thing of the past. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees states that in 2017 there are 65 million people worldwide who have been forced from their homes, including 22 million official refugees who have fled from their countries. In 2016, only 189,000 refugees were resettled worldwide, 46,700 in Canada.
The stories of refugees who arrived here a generation ago reveal the tremendous contributions that they have made to the economy and culture of their new country. Thirty years ago, 155 Tamil refugees came to Canada in dire circumstances. They had been forced into lifeboats in the North Atlantic and were rescued by Newfoundland fisherman Gus Dalton. One of the boats was recently discovered by Canadian filmmaker Cyrus Sundar-Singh (photo left) and we are grateful to him for helping to tell the story with his own images and words: “The boat, which was once a reminder of fear and shame, has become a powerful symbol of hope for a better life in a new land.”
In The Four Seasons, Antonio Vivaldi uses his signature form, the solo violin concerto, to paint musical pictures of the seasons, supported by sonnets which are actually embedded in the musical score. For Autumn, he chooses the key of F Major, strongly associated with hunting horns, which suits the last movement in particular, but is evident already in the opening solo of the first movement. The ensuing rambunctious solo passages are specifically designated l’ubracio (the drunk) in the score, as the harvest is celebrated perhaps a little too enthusiastically. Baroque composers often used long sustained notes and stable harmony to represent sleep or repose, but Vivaldi portrays the alcohol-induced slumber of revellers with unsettling harmonies that refuse to resolve comfortably, and a further restlessness is added by incessant arpeggiation from the continuo instruments under the muted strings. The finale vividly captures images of the hunt, complete with horns, barking dogs, gunshots, and even the final death wail of the cornered animal.
I. The peasants celebrate with song and dance
their joy in a fine harvest
and with generous draughts of Bacchus’ cup
their celebrations end in sleep.
Song and dance are done;
the gentle, pleasant air
and the season invite one and all
to the delights of sweetest sleep.
II. At first light the huntsman sets out
with horns, guns, and dogs;
the wild beast flees, and they follow its trail.
III. Terrified and exhausted by the great clamour
of guns and dogs, wounded and afraid,
the beast tries to flee but is overcome and dies.
I. Celebra il vilanel con balli e canti
Del felice raccolto il bel piacere
E del liquor di Bacco accesi tanti
Finiscono col sonno il lor godere.
Fà ch’ogn ’uno tralasci e balli e canti
L’aria che temperata dà piacere,
E la staggion ch’invita tanti e tanti
D’un dolcissimo sonno al bel godere.
II. I cacciator alla nov ’alba à caccia
Con corni, schioppi, e canni escono fuore
Fugge la belua, e seguono la traccia;
III. Già sbigottita, e lassa al gran rumore
De’ schioppi e canni, ferita minaccia
Languida di fuggir, mà oppressa muore.
Hear a performance of Vivaldi’s “Autumn,” the second in a complete cycle of his The Four Seasons performed this year, showcasing Elisa Citterio, in Elisa’s Italian Adventurefrom October 11–15, 2017 at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Tickets are available here.
My Italian Adventure was born out of a desire to take you by means of music on a journey to the land where I was born and have lived. My hometown is Brescia, and although much less famous than nearby Venice, it played an important role in the history of music. One cannot pinpoint the date and place that the violin reached its present shape, but the studio of the violin maker Giovanni Paolo Maggini and his contemporaries in Brescia certainly contributed to the development of string instruments and to achieving the highest level of craftsmanship. String instruments from the seventeenth century had a very warm voice, and the Brescian consort of strings apparently brought to mind the sound of madrigals by Luca Marenzio, also from Brescia.
Fontana, Marini, and Vivaldi’s father are also from this city. Brescianello, Steffani, and Locatelli were born in towns not far away (especially compared to Canadian distances!), and for Castello the only references we have are Venetian. Our short trip takes us therefore to towns within a 200-kilometre radius and spanning just over 100 years. Other than the celebrated Vivaldi, the composers we will encounter on this journey are less known to the general public, but they give us an idea of what people listened to in baroque Brescia and Venice. I hope you enjoy this Italian musical adventure!
The instrumental portions of our performances this weekend feature Handel’s last compositions for orchestra, written when the composer was in his early sixties. Handel’s three Concerti a due cori were written as “interval music” for three new oratorios: Judas Maccabaeus (1747), Joshua (1748), and Alexander Balus (1748). An oratorio that advertised the inclusion of “a new concerto” always drew a crowd. In the case of the Concerti a due cori (“Concertos for two choirs”), the works were not only newly composed, but were also a new genre. Scored for two antiphonal “choirs” of wind instruments plus a full string orchestra with continuo, they are grandiose, extroverted works, undoubtedly inspired by the trio of so-called “Victory Oratorios” for which they were composed. All three include reworkings of earlier material: Handel’s audiences would have recognized most of them, drawn primarily from oratorio choruses, so the concertos must have had a certain “medley of great hits” quality. You may recognize the chorus “Lift up your heads” from Handel’s Messiah as the second movement of the concerto we are performing this week.
CORELLI CONCERTO GROSSO OP. 6, NO. 10
Corelli was among the first composers to write music for the orchestra independent of the opera, the dance, and the church. During a visit to Rome in 1681, the German musician Georg Muffat heard performances of Corelli concertos: “These concertos, suited neither to the church (because of the ballet airs and airs of other sorts which they include) nor for dancing (because of other interwoven conceits now slow and serious, now gay and nimble, and composed only for the express refreshment of the ear), may be performed most appropriately in connection with entertainments given by great princes and lords, for receptions of distinguished guests, and at state banquets, serenades, and assemblies of musical amateurs and virtuosi.” Ideal music, then, for welcoming a new Music Director! It was Corelli who popularized the concerto grosso, based on the popular form of the trio sonata for two violins and continuo, to which is added a four-part orchestra: when the two groups play in alternation a wonderful chiaroscuro is created. The solo or “concertino” trio supplies tenderness and virtuosity; the orchestra provides a rich sonority and solid foundation. Corelli started composing and performing concerti grossi as early as 1670, but only twelve were ever published, and those posthumously, as Opus 6, in 1714. Their publication had long been awaited throughout Europe, providing a model for many composers of the late baroque, but their simplicity, classical proportions, and utterly idiomatic string writing were never entirely surpassed. In a fitting tribute, the anniversary of Corelli’s death was marked for many years by the performance of the Opus 6 concertos in the Pantheon, where the composer was buried.
VIVALDI THE FOUR SEASONS
The Four Seasons appeared in Vivaldi’s 1725 publication of twelve violin concertos entitled Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, which translates roughly as “bold experiments with harmony and invention.” The Seasons, full of audacious experiments of every kind, were undoubtedly the inspiration for the title. The four concertos are accompanied by four sonnets, giving detailed descriptions of the programmatic elements of the music, which paint a vivid picture of life in the Italian countryside in the eighteenth century. The author of the sonnets is unknown, and it is possible that Vivaldi penned them himself. To ensure that the musicians were aware of the effects they were to create, Vivaldi labelled the various lines of the sonnets to correspond with letters in each of the instrumental parts. He also included very detailed instructions for performance, including dynamics, bowing, and articulations. The concertos are dazzling proof of Vivaldi’s skill as a violinist and his ingenuity and inventiveness as a composer.
We are delighted to be presenting all four concertos over the course of our concert season, with Elisa Citterio as soloist. We begin with Summer, which opens with languid, oppressive heat from the blazing sun, accompanied by bird calls, and finally interrupted by a summer storm. A shepherd, terrified by the storm, attempts to calm himself in the second movement, but is pestered by insects and troubled by approaching thunder. The storm lets loose its fury in the final movement. The full sonnet is printed below.
(Join us as Vivaldi’s Seasons unfold: Autumn at our October concerts, Winter in January, and Spring rather optimistically at concerts in February!)
I. Sotto dura staggion dal sole accesa
Langue l’huom, langue ’l gregge, ed arde il pino;
Scioglie il cucco la voce, e tosto intesa
Canta la tortorella e’l gardelino.
Zeffiro dolce spira, mà contesa Muove Borea improviso al suo vicino; E piange il pastorel, perche sospesa Teme fiera borasca, e’l suo destino;
II. Toglie alle membra lasse il suo riposo Il timore de ’lampi, e tuoni fieri E de mosche, e mossoni il stuol furioso!
III. Ah che pur troppo i suoi timor son veri Tuona e fulmina il ciel e grandinoso Tronca il capo alle spiche e a ’grani alteri.
I. In the torrid heat of the blazing sun,
man and beast alike languish,
and even the pine trees scorch;
The cuckoo raises his voice, and soon after
the turtledove and goldfinch join in song.
Zephyr blows gently, but suddenly
Boreas contests its neighbour:
the shepherd weeps, fearful
of the wild squall and anxious for his fate.
II. He rouses his weary limbs from rest
in fear of the lightning, the fierce thunder,
and the angry swarms of gnats and flies.
III. Alas! his fears are justified,
for furious thunder splits the heavens,
flattening the cornstalks and the grainfields.
VIVALDI CONCERTO CON MOLTI STRUMENTI, RV 569
Vivaldi wrote a number of concertos with an expanded orchestra, i.e. “con molti strumenti.” The Concerto in F Major is essentially a concerto for violin, but rather than accompanying the soloist with the usual string orchestra, Vivaldi adds oboes, bassoons, and horns to create a work that is colourful and festive. The winds play solo passages in dialogue with the violinist, often stealing the limelight. This concerto survives in two versions: Vivaldi’s manuscript score in Italy, and a manuscript score and set of parts copied by the violinist Pisendel at the court in Dresden. Pisendel was one of a small entourage of Dresden musicians who accompanied the Crown Prince of Saxony on a visit to Venice in 1716. Vivaldi was impressed with the abilities of these musicians, and by their accounts of the impressive skills of the Dresden court orchestra, with its legendary wind players. He befriended Pisendel, and sent music to him in Dresden on a regular basis. It is quite possible that many of Vivaldi’s Concertos con molti strumenti were written expressly for the Dresden court, including the concerto we are performing this week.
RAMEAU SUITE FROM LES BORÉADES
Les Boréades was Rameau’s last opera, composed in his eightieth year. Although rehearsals had begun as early as April 1763, no performance took place prior to Rameau’s death in September of 1764, for no obvious reason. The work was not premiered on stage until over 200 years later, in 1982 (by John Eliot Gardiner at the Aix-en-Provence Festival). It is a remarkable opera — Rameau seems to have summoned all of his creative energy to create one final masterpiece, a work that is surprisingly modern, sensual, and spirited. Like other Rameau operas, it includes a wealth of instrumental music, written to accompany the dance, to cover scene changes, and to provide aural “images” of events and scenes on stage. The splendid overture to the opera introduces the selection of instrumental movements we have chosen to close our concerts this week.
September 21–24, 2017, Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre
September 26, 2017, George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
Concerto a due cori in F Major, HWV 333 (London, 1748) Pomposo/Allegro A tempo giusto Largo Allegro ma non troppo A tempo ordinario
Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713)
Concerto grosso in C Major, op. 6, no. 10 (Rome, 1714) Preludio Allemanda Adagio Corrente Allegro Minuetto
Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741)
Concerto for violin in G Minor, op. 8, no. 2: Summer, from The Four Seasons (Venice, 1725) Allegro non molto/Allegro Adagio Presto Elisa Citterio, violin soloist
Concerto con molti strumenti in F Major, RV 569 (Venice/Dresden, 1720s)
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764)
Suite from Les Boréades (Paris, 1763) Ouverture Menuet Allegro Danse légère Gavottes vives Contredanse en rondeau Gavottes Menuets Entracte: Suite des vents [The winds Gavotte légère Entrée de Polymnie Airs gay Contredanses très vives
The diverse roster of composers in A Grand Tour of Italy, guest directed by Rodolfo
Richter, affords a lot of opportunity for further listening and some interesting viewing, too. The music of Uccellini is certainly worthy of more attention. He wrote music for both solo and multiple violins, including this Sinfonia for three.
The revival of interest in Vivaldi‘s music is one of the great comeback stories in classical music, and research into his life, music and its manner of performance is ongoing. Here is a performance from Venice that attempts to recreate the all-female choir he would have written for at the Pieta. Yes, even the tenors and basses are women!
Corelli was so revered in life that in death he lies in Rome’s Pantheon. He was commemorated in annual performances there for years, and in 2013, on the 300th anniversary of his passing, violinist Davide Monti led a flash mob performance of one of his concerti grossi outside the building.
As Castello appears to have been a wind player, it is interesting to hear his music performed on the cornetto, a kind of woodwind-brass hybrid instrument that was popular in Venice at that time. Listen to it here.
Bertali must have been an accomplished violinist as well as a leading composer of his time. This Ciaconna is perhaps his most popular work today.
Marini is particularly noted for his innovations as a violinist. This solo sonata is one of his most adventuresome.
Lully‘s Chaconne from Phaëton is one of relatively few pieces for which notated choreography survives from the Baroque period. Watch the reconstruction of what it may have looked like by Carlos Fittante and Voices of Music.
Italy was the principal source of the musical trends that came to define baroque music in the seventeenth century. The innovative new forms of opera, sonata, and concerto were all developed there. Copious volumes of music were published, especially in Venice, and Italian musicians travelled across Europe, bringing their talents and compositions. This program moves freely between different generations of composers and different cities and courts, both within and outside Italy.
The Bergamasca was a popular dance that allegedly lampooned the citizens of Bergamo. Musically it was set to a four-note repeating bass line, over which parts could either be composed or improvised. Bergamascas have a playful affect that can be associated with performers: the mischievous servant character in Italian Commedia dell’arte, named Arlecchino, is ostensibly a native of Bergamo, and the “Rude Mechanicals” dance a Bergomask in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Marco Uccellini was a violinist based in Modena. His Bergamasca comes from his Opus 3, published in Venice in 1642.
We jump ahead a few decades to Venice under the spell of the prolific composer and violinist, Antonio Vivaldi. Although Venice had been a major centre for publishing—most of the music on this program was published there—Vivaldi preferred to have his music published in Amsterdam, as was the case with his Opus 9, entitled La Cetra. The title refers to a type of Ancient Greek harp and is no doubt a gesture toward its dedicatee, the Emperor Charles VI, who was himself a musician and music lover. The symbol relates the violin, as solo instrument in the concertos, to the instruments that accompanied classical drama, but also refers to the Hapsburg monarchs themselves, who frequently used the symbol of the lyre. A year after its publication, Vivaldi met the Emperor in person, who gave him gifts and engaged him in extended conversation (apparently to the chagrin of his ministers).
The title La Cetra had in fact been used many years before by Giovanni Legrenzi for a book of sonatas dedicated to another musical emperor, Charles’ father Leopold I. Legrenzi had held positions in Bergamo and Ferrara prior to coming to Venice, where he published his Opus 10 in 1673. It is his last and most ambitious set. The scoring of one sonata for four violins is unusual, and is perhaps most striking in the first movement, when one can hear a number of short motifs being passed quickly from one violin to the next.
The interaction of four separate violin parts was also employed by Giuseppe Valentini in one of his concerti grossi, a departure from the usual two violin soloists. Valentini was part of the vital music scene in Rome during the heyday of Corelli, where there was lots of work at the various churches and in the households of influential families. It is unknown whether Valentini actually studied with Corelli, but he was certainly part of the pool of freelancers Corelli regularly called upon, and is known to have held positions with the Ruspoli and Borghese families as well. His music was circulated internationally and was frequently plagiarized.
Arcangelo Corelli was revered as a composer and violinist both during his career and after. His instrumental music represents a kind of benchmark for the forms that would dominate the later baroque. He is largely credited with developing the concerto grosso, in which a small concertino group interacts with a larger ripieno. Although he apparently composed and directed performances of concerti grossi throughout his career, they only saw publication at the end of his life, as his final Opus 6. The eighth concerto is a favourite for its seasonal content, the finale Pastorale, “written for the nativity.” Another unusual feature in this concerto is the performance indication at the first Grave: “come sta,” meaning to play it “as is,” without the added ornamentation that would normally by expected of the performers.
Dario Castello was among the first generation of composers to explore the possibilities of the sonata in the early seventeenth century. Little is known about his life; on the title page of his first volume of sonatas he claims to be chief wind player at San Marco in Venice, and several of his sonatas do include parts for cornetto, dulcian, and trombone, the principal wind instruments used in churches at the time. His works tend to be in many sections with bold changes of character.
Throughout the baroque era, Italian musicians travelled and frequently found successful positions abroad. The Hapsburg court in Vienna, the seat of the Holy Roman Empire, was noted for employing the finest Italian musicians, and it was here that the young Veronese Antonio Bertali found employment as an instrumentalist. He never returned to Italy, and would eventually ascend to the position of Capellmeister. An accomplished violinist, he is most noted for his sonatas today, but was also a composer of vocal music and had a great deal of influence over the development of Italian opera at the Imperial court, which continued for generations.
One of the best-travelled musicians of the seventeenth century was Biagio Marini. A native of Brescia, a major violin-making centre, he worked at San Marco in Venice under Monteverdi, at various Italian courts, in Germany, and as far away as Brussels. He eventually returned to Venice. He was a daring and innovative composer for the violin, creating what is some of the first solo repertoire for that instrument. The Passacaglia that closes his final opus, however, eschews virtuosity completely: a version of the passacaglia bass pattern is used as a recurring refrain, and while the intervening sections carry us through some striking harmonies, they never accelerate into fast notes, maintaining a state of gravity throughout.
We close with music by an Italian expatriate who not only never returned home, but went in a very different direction with his musical style as well. The Florentine Giovanni Battista Lulli was brought to France as a teenager for a position as an Italian tutor. Already possessing some musical and theatrical skills, he somehow continued his musical education in France, and became a favourite of the young Louis XIV. When Louis took over as ruler in 1661, he named Jean-Baptiste Lully his Surintendant of the royal music and granted him French citizenship. Lully led ensembles at court that were legendary for their discipline. Eventually he took on the challenge of creating a French form of opera, and obtained what was essentially a monopoly for its production. Dance always had a large role in these spectacles. The elegant Chaconne from his mature opera Phaëton was widely copied and transcribed in the period.