Program Notes for 14 & 15 September 2013


7:30 p. m. Saturday 14 September 2013, Fellowship Reformed Christian Church
3:00 p. m. Sunday 15 September 2013, Historic Old San Ysidro Church, Corrales

Concert I

 

Trio sonata in C major                                                               Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Grave—Vivace
Andante
Xantippe:  [Presto]
Lucretia:  Largo
Corinna:  [Allegretto]
Clelia:  [Vivace]
Dido:  Triste—Disperato
flute, recorder, basso continuo

 

Second Concert                                                                                           François Couperin (1668-1733)
Prélude:  Gracieusement
Allemande fuguée:  Gayement
Air tendre
Air contre fugué:  Vivement
Echos:  Tendrement
oboe, viola da gamba, basso continuo

 

Sonata I, from Second livre de sonates                                           Jean-Marie Leclair, l’aîné (1697-1764)
Adagio
Allegro ma poco
Sarabanda:  Largo
Allegro
flute, basso continuo

 

*****intermission*****

 

Sonata in G major, “La Félicité”                                              Louis-Nicolas Clérambault (1676-1749)
          Lentement—Allegro—Lent—Allegro—[Gavotte]—[Gigue]—Lent
flute, oboe, basso continuo

 

Suite in G major                                                             Le Sieur de Machy (fl. 2nd half of 17th century)
Sarabande
Gigue
Gavotte en rondeau
Chaconne
viola da gamba

 

Trio sonata in E minor                                                                                                   Telemann
Affettuoso
Allegro
Grave
Allegro
flute, oboe, basso continuo

 

For our 2013-2014 season the Albuquerque Baroque Players are reprising our theme of “Friends, Old and New”: each of our four concert sets will feature a guest artist, including three returning old friends – Carol Redman, Stephen Redfield, and Elizabeth Blumenstock – and new friend Brenna Wells, who will appear on our November program.  For this opening concert we are pleased to welcome back Ms. Redman, who is making her fourth appearance with ABP.

Our season theme also alludes to the composers whose music we’ll be performing. Among those represented on this weekend’s program, we count Georg Philipp Telemann as one of our oldest and dearest musical friends, and we’ll open and close with two of his trios for wind instruments and continuo. We begin with a selection from Der getreue Music-Meister (“The faithful music master”), a biweekly journal in which Telemann “propose[d] to present all types of musical pieces for singers and instrumentalists, suited for various voices and almost all instruments in use … most everything that may occur in music according to the Italian, French, English, Polish, serious, lively, and amusing styles.”  The C-major trio is in the form of a suite comprising a French overture (a stately “entrance” piece in dotted rhythms, followed by a lively fugue) and five short character pieces, many of them in dance forms.  Each of these bears the name of an historical or legendary woman from classical antiquity: Socrates’ nagging wife Xantippe; the martyred Lucretia; the lyric poet Corinna; the Roman maiden Clelia, who escaped the Etruscan king who was holding her hostage; and Dido, who threw herself on a funeral pyre rather than submit to a forced marriage.  It’s been variously suggested that these names were meant to denote characters in a mini-drama, or as clues to the interpretation of the music, or perhaps as a means of attracting female subscribers to Der getreue Music-Meister!

If you’ve attended many of our concerts over the years, you know that we love French Baroque music in general and that of François Couperin – another “old friend” – in particular.  Outstanding among Couperin’s chamber works are his two books of concerts (“concerted” pieces) for one or two treble instruments and continuo – or, alternatively, for solo harpsichord.  The second volume of concerts is subtitled “Les gouts réünis” (“the [French and Italian] styles united”), reflecting Couperin’s project of synthesizing two very different national styles which, at their extremes, were nearly polar opposites.  Our selection is from the first book, published under the title Concerts royaux and comprising four suites in mostly French style – possibly in deference to the conservative (and nationalistic!) tastes of the aging Louis XIV. Still, the second concert juxtaposes the two styles: the courtly, rather restrained Prélude and “Air tendre” are French, while the more lively – and contrapuntal – “Allemande fuguée” and “Air contre fugué” are clearly Italianate, albeit with the obligatory French ornamentation!  The suite concludes on a French note with the descriptive “Échos,” in which the viola da gamba breaks away from its basso continuo role to become the middle voice in a trio texture.

Couperin was by no means the only composer to mix French and Italian styles. The taste for things Italian had become widespread among French composers as early as the 1690s, with the appearance of the Paris edition of Arcangelo Corelli’s sonatas.  Louis-Nicolas Clérambault, a slightly younger contemporary of Couperin’s, is noted for the blend of the two styles in his French cantatas.  His instrumental chamber works, while somewhat less assured than the vocal music, also combine French and Italian elements.  “La Félicité” has the formal structure of the early Italian sonata, consisting of a single “movement” in short, contrasting sections.  The opening sections suggest a French overture that culminates in a slow, dotted-rhythm coda.  The remainder of the piece includes two dance sections – a French gavotte and an Italian gigue with lively passagework in all three parts – and concludes with a stately French coda.

If Couperin, Clérambault, and others achieved at least a partial union of styles, Jean-Marie Leclair took the project to the next level.  A lacemaker and dancer as well as a virtuoso violinist, Leclair has been credited with achieving the gouts réünis ideal in his forty-nine sonatas for violin and continuo.  Some of these, including our selection, are designated by the composer as suitable for the flûte allemande (“German flute”, as opposed to the flauto dolce, a.k.a. recorder).  The opening Adagio of the E-minor sonata features an arioso-like flute melody over a chromaticized and highly-ornamented passacaglia bass (a descending line that covers the interval of a fourth and is repeated throughout the movement).  Solo and continuo are equal partners in the fast movements; the finale is a gypsy dance, with a contrasting middle section in E major.  Like all French Baroque composers, Leclair indicates the agréments, or ornaments, that are to be played by the soloist; these are most prominent in the most French of all the movements, the Sarabanda.  Spicy dissonances and unexpected harmonies pop up throughout.

The remaining French composer on our program, Le Sieur de Machy, was resistant not only to foreign influences but also to the progressive ideas of a new generation of French gambist-composers, most notably Marin Marais.  The French school of viol playing had its origins in lute technique, and the early literature for the instrument consisted of unaccompanied chordal pieces (jeu d’harmonie) notated in tablature. a form of notation where pitches are represented by letters or numbers on a grid that represents the strings of a lute, guitar, or viol.  The late 17th century saw a shift towards jeu de mélodie, where the gamba plays (mostly) a single melodic line with continuo accompaniment.  This had fairly radical implications for left-hand technique, and the conservative De Machy became embroiled in controversy.  His one known publication is a book of eight suites – four in staff notation and four in tablature, all in the jeu-d’harmonie style – for unaccompanied viol.  Our gambist will perform selected movements from one of the suites in the first group.

As promised, we round out the weekend’s program with another Telemann trio. This one, in E minor, is on the Corellian 4-movement “church sonata” (slow-fast-slow-fast) model and, like our other Telemann selection, is an example of the treble-dominated galant style of the late Baroque and pre-Classical era.  While there are some points of imitation between the two upper parts, more often the flute and oboe are in parallel, or one serves as accompaniment to the other.  The Allegro finale is essentially a two-voice fugue with continuo accompaniment, but also has something of the flavor of the “Polish” music that was one of Telemann’s favorite sources of musical material.

 


 

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