2012 Festival Newsletter
Issue 8, February 2012
LE GRAND CONCOURS - FRANCE PLAYS ITALY
Elizabeth Wallfisch writes...
Imagine the shock-horror of the nobles at the court of Louis XIV, were Uccellini, the monk, to appear with his keyboard player and a cellist and play free-form, overtly passionate, improvisatory music at a court banquet.
No minuets, gavottes, no arias, no costumes? A racket! street music, the lowest of the low, for the primitive man...
Stradella would fare no better, his scandalous life-style (leading to a dramatic death at the hands of a hired killer) being perhaps more to the taste of the courtiers than his music, so prescient is it of the perfection of Corelli.
But the French could not do without the Italians - 'les 24 violons du roi' were at least 12 from Italy, with their singing styles and agile bowing. And the Italians, in their poverty, travelled north.
Exquisite refinement of taste, discipline in all execution, perfection of rhythm and beauty of form marked the French styles of the court of Louis XIV, enforced with a strictness of great severity by the 'Court Musician', an Italian, Lully, and mastered completely by François Couperin.
The 18th century arrived, and the mores at court changed: engravure was born, and the fashions and tastes of the upper and middle classes developed. Thus began a new age of the amateur musician. The boundaries broke down: the French, in the person of Leclair, emulated the Italian, and the Italian, in the person of Geminiani, the French.
And Locatelli, remaining himself, shocked everyone!
ZEFIRO TORNA - MINIATURE OPERAS FROM 17TH-CENTURY VENICE
From ensemble savādi's rehearsal diary, 26 January 2012...
Since the "Dialogo" didn't really have the "groove" we were looking for in our rehearsal today, we tried out several new pieces and unanimously decided on a new final piece for our Festival programme, an extravagant item that made all three of us give the thumbs-up: "La donna è mobil verga" by Tarquinio Merula. Over the whole length of a sonnet, the unknown poet rants about women being fickle, unreliable, greedy etc. Being an all-female ensemble, I guess we'll have to give this one a thoroughly ironical treatment.
ensemble savādi has created numerous different programmes over the last 12 years, its newest, "Zefiro torna", being very special in its approach. It is a glimpse into the alluring world of "miniature opera", where emotions and stories are distilled into their essence and made all the stronger for their succinctness. Duets, arias and instrumental pieces from the pens of Venetian masters of the 17th century draw upon poetry, which, in just a few words, can cover the whole spectrum of intense emotions - from lust to furious rage ... voilà ... "opera en miniature".
The programme includes compositions by Claudio Monteverdi, his student and successor, Giovanni Rovetta, the dazzling Barbara Strozzi, and the wrongly forgotten opera impresario, Benedetto Ferrari.
Buy a ticket for both concerts on Friday 25 May and receive a voucher for a free glass of wine.
THE SPORTING LIFE WITH ALVA
Giles Lewin and Vivian Ellis have been working on 18th-century songs from the Harding Collection at Oxford's Bodleian Library, as part of the Digital Miscellanies Project. They are performing these songs up and down the country this year, partly to let people know how easy it is to access this remarkable treasury via the Digital Resources of the Bodleian.
Dr Abigail Williams, the project leader, presented a programme on BBC Radio 3 this week, telling the remarkable story of Walter Harding and how he came to amass the world's largest collection of 18th century songs.
For your further interest...
Spitalfields Music Summer Festival
8-23 June 2012
It may still be cold outside, but summer is already on the way in Spitalfields. Associate Artists the Gabrieli Consort & Players, Matthew Barley (pictured) and Talvin Singh lead a mix of Baroque masterpieces, contemporary works, music theatre, walks, free events and more. Don't miss The Sixteen celebrating English sacred music, the Monteverdi Choir on a choral pilgrimage & La Nuova Musica staging two rare Baroque gems. Booking now open.
020 7377 1362
The Bach Players
Pour le Souper du Roi - Chamber music for Louis XIV
Sunday 12 February, 5.30pm
The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, NW1
Nicolette Moonen (pictured) violin
Susanne Heinrich viola da gamba
Lynda Sayce theorbo
Tickets: 020 7383 7808