The 17th-century composer and violinist Heinrich Biber was born in Bohemia
and moved to Salzburg in 1670, where he flourished and was able to explore
his faith through music and composition. Brought up with a Jesuit
education, Biber frequently incorporated sacred themes into his instrumental works, including in his “Rosary” sonatas, compiled in those first years in Salzburg. Today we’ll hear the “Annunciation” sonata, which begins and ends with a rapid cascade of notes depicting the rustling of Archangel Gabriel’s wings as he descends from heaven to tell the Virgin she is to give birth to the son of God. In this performance, Bill Bauer is the violinist and Charles Metz the harpsichordist.
”The Annunciation” from the Rosary Sonatas – by
H.I.F. Biber (1644-1704), William Bauer, violin and Charles Metz
Our episode this month is an “Early Music Petting Zoo” and features the following compositions:
Little known today, composer Jan Josef Ignác Brentner was one of the most successful Bohemian composers of the 18th century. Many of Brentner’s works are catalogued but seem to have been lost, although a scattering of manuscript copies survive throughout the Czech Republic and a large number have been found in Austria. Other copies of his music have turned up, in modified versions, in Bolivia, although no one is quite sure how his music made it to South America.
This chamber concerto is a piece of tafelmusik, or table music, designed for light entertainment. Though the instrumentation of viola d’amore, lute, two oboes, bassoon, and cembalo seems quite exotic, this combination was also used by Brentner’s contemporaries, including Vivaldi, Graupner and Telemann.
Today, we’ll hear music from Charles MacLean, who was born in 1700 and lived until 1773. MacLean took inspiration from the Scottish folk song “Nighean donn an àraidh” for his violin sonata in A, and its movements are variations upon that tune. Instead of the standard violin tuning, G-D-A-E, MacLean wrote this sonata for a violin tuned A-E-A-E, which creates more tension on the bridge and yields a more brilliant sound. In this performance, we’ll hear Bill Bauer on violin and Jeff Noonan on theorbo.
This month’s episode (13 minutes and 2 seconds) features music from lutenist and composer John Dowland. Dowland wrote the Lachrimae Pavane, known in English as “Flow My Tears,” in 1596, and it is now one of the most widely known pieces of the English Renaissance. Lachrimae became the composer’s signature song literally as well as metaphorically: later in life he would occasionally sign his name “Jo.
Dolandi de Lachrimae” or “John Dowland of the Lachrimae.”
This performance is notable in that it is played on a newly restored Italian Virginal built by the Florentine maker Francesco Poggi around 1590. Here’s Charles Metz, performing John Dowland’s Lachrimae Pavane.
Following that Lachrimae, we’ll hear music of one of Dowland’s contemporaries, William Byrd: a Pavan and Galliard played by Charles Metz on the virginal. This instrument is closely related to the harpsichord, but the strings run parallel to the keyboard instead of perpendicular to it. Because of this orientation, the virginal’s strings are plucked closer to the middle than the harpsichord, which gives the instrument a richer, fuller sound.
This month’s program (10 minutes and 32 seconds) explores the music of Giovanni Battista Lully. In 1646, at the tender age of 14, Lully was pressed into service for the French Chevalier de Guise as a dishwasher. Just seven years later, his fame as a dancer, comedian and composer had grown enormously and he had risen to the position of Louis XIV’s in-house composer, the compositeur de la musique instrumentale.
In 1670 Lully collaborated with the playwright Molière on a comédie-ballets called Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, the featured work for this month’s program. Of particular note is the March pour Le Grand Ceremonie des Turcs that opens this work, which reflects the then-current trend for “les turqueries”- all things related to the Ottoman Empire. This month’s performance features Ars Antigua under the direction of Jerry Fuller.
This month’s program (10 minutes) features Jeff Noonan and two plucked instruments common in the 17th century, the theorbo and the Baroque guitar. The theorbo is a long-necked member of the lute family that features a set of bass strings that extend all the way up to a second pegbox. Not only do these strings extend the range of the theorbo, but they also resonate with the upper strings, giving the instrument a harplike quality to its sound. Our first selection is Girolamo Kapsberger‘s Toccata Arpeggiata for theorbo.
The episode continues with a set of variations on a ground, “Il Kapsberger.” Kapsberger was a virtuoso performer on the lute, theorbo and chitarrone, and played a seminal role in their development into solo instruments.
This month’s episode concludes with a little bit of Spanish music from around the turn of the 17th century. Gaspar Sanz, the dominant figure in Spanish Baroque music, was a composer whose effect on modern composers is perhaps most evident in this Pavan and Canarios; Joaquin Rodrigo used part of it as the central theme in his famous Fantasia para un Gentilhombre.
This month’s program (8 minutes and 45 seconds) celebrates the life of Franz Joseph Haydn, who passed from this earth 200 years ago this month. Though he never had children, the composer is often referred to as “Papa” Haydn, and his fatherly guidance was essential in the development of the
symphony and string quartet. We’ll hear first a cassation, a form that was usually part of wedding entertainment. In this Cassation in G, one can hear many of the elements that Haydn would incorporate into his symphonies.
From a little later in Haydn’s life, we’ll then hear a menuetto from an early symphonic masterpiece of Haydn, subtitled “the Night,” or “Le Soir.”
In this episode (12 minutes and 57 seconds) we’ll hear the winners of the 2009 Ars Antigua-Midwest Young Artists competition, generously sponsored by Walgreens.
Amy Pikler, a sophomore at New Trier High School, began playing music at the age of 5 and now studies violin and viola with Desiree Ruhstrat and recorder with Patrick O’Malley at the Music Institute of Chicago. In addition to winning competitions on both the regional and national level, she has appeared as soloist with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, the North Suburban Symphony, the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, the Knox-Galesburg Symphony, and several more across the U.S.
Evan Fojtik is 15 and a sophomore at Lake Zurich High School. He began his music studies at age 10, and currently studies flute with Diane Horban and plays in the Midwest Young Artists Symphony Orchestra and chamber music program. Honors include first chair in the District 7 IMEA honors band the past three years, first place in the Junior Division of the Chicago Flute Club student competition, and placement in the senior division. Evan has been featured in the Pilgrim Chamber Players Stars of Tomorrow recital, and also in recital at Ravinia. Like Amy, Evan has received high honors at the Walgreens Concerto Competition on numerous occasions.
For this performance, Evan Fojik and Amy Pickler are joined by David Schrader at the harpsichord for Telemann’s Concerto in e minor for Flute and Recorder.
Our program “Marche Madness” ( 8 minutes and 16 seconds) features five festive marches for baroque orchestra:
In our program “De Profundis” (9 minutes and 5 seconds), Ars Antigua celebrates its lower range with performances of:
Spanish composer Diego Ortiz worked form 1555 to 1570 at the vice-regal court of the Duke of Alba in Naples. His treatise on viol playing is an astounding source of Renaissance ornamentation and improvisational practice. His techniques led to the English ‘divisions on a ground’ and the improvisatory viola bastarda style.
The cello in 17th century Venice came in two sizes–the violoncello, was rather larger than today’s standard cello and was used to play the more static bass lines of polyphonic music while the violoncino, being smaller was given to rapid virtuosic solo music. Marieta Prioli’s Balletto et Corrento is for this smaller instrument, and contains a rather acrobatic Corrento.
Our program, Music from Jeremiah Clarke’s “The Island Princess” (12 minutes and 9 seconds), features eight selections from this dramatic opera or semi-opera. Semi-operas developed in England between 1673 and 1710 and were performed with singing, speaking and dancing roles. When music was written, it was usually for moments in the play immediately following either love scenes or those concerning the supernatural. Jeremiah Clarke (1674-1707) was an English baroque composer and associate of Henry Purcell. Clarke was a pupil of John Blow at St Paul’s Cathedral. In “The Island Princess”, a group of Euopean voyagers travel to the Spice Islands and are astounded by the alien culture they encounter. The music, written in 1699, contains the first appearance of what has become known to us as the “Trumpet Tune” of wedding and graduation fame.
The incidental music for “The Island Princess ” includes:
- First Musick/Jig
- Second Act Tune
- Third Act Tune
- Winter Dance with a stove, a Dutchman and an old miser
- Spring Dance for Girles with Nosegaus
- Summer Dance by Blacks
- Autumn Dance by a French Clowne and a Country Woman in Wooden Shoe