Friday, June 22, 2012

ARCHIVE  •  2012  •  SUN 17  •  MON 18  •  WED 20  •  FRI 22  •  SUN 24

Sherman Library & Gardens, Central Patio Room, 8 p.m.

Music in the Gardens II

David Shostac, flute
Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Timothy Landauer, violoncello
Gabriel Arregui, harpsichord

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Concerto II in D major
from “Paris” Quartets, Book I


Jean-Baptiste Barrière (1707-1747)
Sonata in B minor, Book I, No. 1
for violoncello and continuo

Adagio – Andante – Adagio

Marin Marais (1656-1728)
Petite Suite in D major
from Pièces en Trio

Menuet – autre Menuet
Bransle de village

Michel Blavet (1700-1768)
Sonata in B minor, Book III, No. 2
for flute and continuo



Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1774)
Sonata in A minor, Op. 9, No. 5
for violin and continuo

Allegro assai
Allegro ma non troppo

Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer (ca. 1705-1755)
La Marche des Scythes, from Zaïde
for solo harpsichord


Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Suite No. 3 in G major
from “Paris” Quartets, Book II

Prélude – en peu vivement
Lentement – Vite – Lentement – Vite


This concert is dedicated to the memory of
Charles D. Hamburger, PhD (1932-2012)
A life-long music aficionado

French music could not be described as a staple of the Baroque Music Festival, Corona del Mar, aside from some beautiful choral/orchestral Charpentier. French Baroque music is variously regarded as fussy, snobby, lightweight or tedious by those who have conceived a dislike of it. Hah! We hope to demonstrate to you that this music is eloquent, vivacious, poignant, imaginative, and colorful. What else should one expect from the country that has produced haute cuisine, fine wine, Debussy, Balzac, Truffaut, Matisse, Catherine Deneuve, and that deliciously voluptuous language?


WWe begin boldly with a non-French composer! Georg Philipp Telemann had long wished to visit Paris; he was an admirer of French musical taste, and had achieved considerable fame in France through the popularity of several of his extremely fine pieces in that style, among them his celebrated Musique de Table and his first book of six quartets. Finally receiving an invitation, he accepted, and stayed in Paris for eight months in 1737-38, during which time he composed and published a second book of quartets. He had another reason to go there: like several other popular composers, he had been losing money for years because of illegal publications of his works by unscrupulous Parisian publishers. Once in France, he obtained a privilège du Roy, which put a stop to this piracy.

We are playing one quartet from each book today. The Concerto II, from Book I, takes the form of an Italian fast-slow-fast concerto; here, “concerto” simply means “together,” though there are ritornellos and solos for each obbligato instrument. See if you can spot the clever three-voice canon near the end of the first movement! While the form, movement titles and some of the figuration in this piece owes much to Italy, its overall flavor is nonetheless unmistakably French.

The last piece on our program this evening, the Suite No. 3 in G major from Book II, is like a dance suite in form, consisting of seven movements of contrasting character. Although none of the movements is actually called a dance, the spirit of the dance is unarguably present.

In these pieces, Telemann perfected a compositional style that could be described as conversational, democratic, and civilized; but lest you get the impression from these adjectives that this is merely polite, “sweet” music, you will find that there is no shortage of real beauty, excitement and virtuosity. BACK


J ean-Baptiste Barrière, born in Bordeaux, France, began his music studies on the viola da gamba, but moved to the violoncello, becoming famous as a cellist. He is not as well known as a composer, though, inasmuch as his output is small: four books of sonatas for cello and basso continuo, and one each for the viola da gamba and the harpsichord.

The opening slow movement is sonorous and emotional, with an almost improvisational character in places. The rather curious third movement can’t seem to make up its mind about either its tempo or its character, going through several transformations. The fast movements are composed in the newly popular Italian style, which is to say animated and brilliant. BACK


The little suite of dances by Marin Marais is the earliest-written music on our program tonight. Marais died in 1728 at age 72, the same year that saw Barrière’s 21st birthday. This earlier music is more simply written than the Telemann compositions (tonight’s other pieces featuring our full ensemble), with less counterpoint, less “conversation” among the parts, shorter movements, and less changeable moods.

A good bit of this difference is due to the fact that these are dances, each of which is necessarily in a relatively specific mood and tempo, but some of the difference reflects the lack of Italian influence, which didn’t really enter into mainstream French style until the last few decades of the Baroque era. While Marais may have “less” of this or that, you will find that his dances require no apologies. BACK


MMichel Blavet, the son of a woodturner in eastern France, must have been a prodigy of sorts. He taught himself the flute and bassoon, and, moving from one distinguished post to the next, became the preeminent European flute virtuoso of the mid- 18th century.

While quite a few of the composerperformers of this period managed to make enemies, either for cause or out of envy, Blavet stands out as a genuinely modest and amiable person; the historical record shows that his character, his flute-playing and his compositions received only praise. One of his many admirers, the poet Serré de Rieux, wrote that “Blavet resurrected the art and the destiny of the flute from the slumber to which it had long seemed condemned,” and that his playing was like “a fresh burst of sparkling light.” When Telemann visited Paris in 1737 and employed the finest local virtuosi to play through his second book of quartets (the source of the last piece on tonight’s program), the flutist he chose was none other than Blavet.

Blavet’s third book of sonatas, like much of his published oeuvre, was composed in what was then the newly popular and lively Italian style. It is mostly in his moderate and slow tempo movements that careful listeners can identify his “French-ness,” through his use of French ornaments and in his phrase structure. BACK


H appily, few composers have met the sad fate of Jean-Marie Leclair, who was murdered on his front doorstep, probably by his nephew, for reasons unknown. Also a fine dancer and lace-maker, Leclair penned some 55 violin sonatas. His music is sometimes so full of ornamentation that it looks rather like black lace on the page! The first movement of his sonata in A minor is highly ornate, the second vigorous and brilliant, the third melancholy, and the last — surprisingly in A major — a cheerful rondeau. BACK


Pancrace Royer was a harpsichordist and organist who worked at both the French court and the Paris Opera. He was a music teacher to the royal children and co-director of the Concert Spirituel series. His career as an opera composer was always overshadowed by that of Jean-Philippe Rameau; their rivalry was so intense that there survives a police report of a fisticuff between the two in 1742, Rameau being the likely instigator.

“La Marche des Scythes” comes from Royer’s most popular opera, Zaïde. Only the recurring rondeau theme is from the opera; in between the rondo repeats, Royer simply cuts loose with harpsichord fantasy on a grand and astonishing scale. BACK

Notes by Elizabeth Blumenstock


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