Ars Antigua Presents: Winter Quarter 2012

Working and living almost exclusively in early-eighteenth century Paris, Louis-Nicolas Clérambault was primarily an organist. While employed in the Parisian churches of Grands-Augustins and Saint-Sulpice, he honed his skills as a composer. While Clérambault was organist and choir director at the royal house of Saint-Cyr he developed the French Cantata form and was widely heralded as the master of the genre.

Clérambault (1676-1749)

Many of Clérambault’s secular cantatas were concerned with Greco-Roman subjects and have titles like Orphée, Apollon, and La mort d’Hercule. We will now hear a selection from one of these secular cantatas, titled Léandre et Héro. This is a Récitatif and Air fort et tendre from Léandre et Héro of Cantates françoises, livre II by Louis-Nicolas Clérambault. This performance is by Génération Harmonique.

Ars Antigua Presents promotes the work of early music students at the high school and college levels. If you know of an ensemble that represents this next generation of performers, let us know and they may be featured on our podcast.

Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau

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Ars Antigua Presents: November 2012 edition

Thomas Tallis was truly a Tudor composer. With a life that spanned most of the sixteenth century, Tallis served the royal court under Henry VIII, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. Under Elizabeth, Tallis, along with William Byrd, was granted a twenty-one year monopoly on polyphonic music, as well as a patent to publish and print their music. While the Tudors ushered in the Protestant Reformation, many scholars believe that Tallis remained a devout Catholic. Written during the Protestant Queen Elizabeth’s reign, “The Lamentations of Jeremiah” are often cited as an example of a true expression of the composer’s faith.

According to Judeo-Christian beliefs, following the death of King Josiah [BC 609], Jerusalem began worshipping false idols. Jeremiah, noticing this broken covenant with God, set about warning the citizens that if they continued to denounce God, they would be punished by famine. Jerusalem did not heed Jeremiah’s prophecies—to the contrary: he was mocked, beaten, and jailed. Through it all, Jeremiah remained faithful, praying for Jerusalem, and became known as “the weeping prophet” as he wept for Israel.

Thomas Tallis’s “The Lamentations of Jeremiah,” as performed by The Marion Consort.

Jeremiah the Prophet, from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel masterpiece

Ars Antigua Presents promotes the work of early music students at the high school and college levels. If you know of an ensemble that represents this next generation of performers, let us know and they may be featured on our podcast.

Special note to our audience: *Starting in December 2012, Ars Antigua Presents will be moving to a quarterly, rather than a monthly podcast. We hope you will continue to enjoy our March, June, September, and December episodes.*

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Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau, with special thanks to Amy Bearden, director of the Marion Consort, for her assistance with this month’s episode.

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Ars Antigua Presents: October 2012 edition

Most of the information that we have regarding Giovanni Battista Fontana comes from the preface of a posthumously published collection of his compositions. Published in 1641, eleven years after his death from the plague, Fontana’s lone collection consisted of sonatas for one, two, or three parts. His own instrument was the violin, a fact that is artfully announced in the preface:

Fontana was one of the most singular violin virtuosi of his time. He was well known not only in his native city, but also in Venice, Rome and finally Padua, where like a dying swan, he displayed more marvelously than ever the sweetness of his music…

Italy at the time of Fontana's birth. His hometown of Brescia is near Italy's northern border.

 

The music within Fontana’s collection varies quite drastically in style and notational method, reflecting trends in Italian sonata composition during the first third of the seventeenth century.

We will now listen to a selection for violin and continuo from Fontana’s Sonate per il violino, o cornetto, fagotto, chitarone, violincino o simile altro istromento (Sonatas for violin or cornetto, bassoon, chitarrone, violincello, or other similar instruments). Concitato performs Fontana’s Sonata No. 2 in D Major for violin and continuo…

Ars Antigua Presents promotes the work of early music students at the high school and college levels. If you know of an ensemble that represents this next generation of performers, let us know and they may be featured on our podcast.

[8:55]

Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau

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Ars Antigua Presents: September 2012 edition

During Antonio Vivaldi’s extended tenure at the Pio Ospedale della Pietà, he composed two settings of the Gloria (he is rumored to have written a third Gloria, but this setting has been lost). These two sacred works were virtually forgotten upon the death of Vivaldi in 1741 and only returned to the repertoire in 1939.

It was during “Vivaldi Week” in Siena that year that Alfredo Casella—an Italian composer and devotee of Debussy—revived several Vivaldi compositions, including the Gloria, RV 589. This masterwork has since become one of the most popular sacred Baroque pieces. Our ensemble this month is the University of North Texas Collegium Singers & Baroque Orchestra, under the direction of Richard Sparks.

Alfredo Casella
Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi’s Gloria, RV 589: Gloria, Et in terra pax, Laudamus te, Gratias agimus tibi, and Propter magnam gloriam.

Ars Antigua Presents promotes the work of early music students at the high school and college levels. If you know of an ensemble that represents this next generation of performers, let us know and they may be featured on our podcast.

Vivaldi Gloria (University of North Texas Collegium Singers & Baroque Orchestra)

Victoria Requiem (University of North Texas Collegium Singers)

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Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau

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Ars Antigua Presents: August 2012 edition

Nicolas Bernier was an Italian-influenced French composer of motets and cantatas who lived from 1664 until 1734. Bernier is a lesser-known composer of the French baroque, who belonged to the generation that came between Lully and Rameau. Although he spent his formative years in Italy, he returned to Paris and held many different musical posts in churches there.

Bernier (1664-1734)

In 1711, Bernier published some works in his Troisième livre des cantates françoises. From this collection comes a cantata, which, interestingly, is in praise of coffee; a beverage that was unknown in France until 1669. The vocal melody and instrumental coloration of Le Caffé evokes an exotic quality, in keeping with early-18th century Europeans’ feelings towards this captivatingly foreign beverage. There are three airs, along with a prelude and three recitatives that make up Le Caffé, and the first of these resembles a sarabande. The poetry for this air, written by Bernier’s contemporary, Louis Fuzelier, describes the delights of caffeine-induced insomnia.

We will now listen to that first air from Bernier’s Le Caffé. This is Air Gracieux: Gracieusement, and it is performed by Les Grâces

 

Ars Antigua Presents promotes the work of early music students at the high school and college levels. If you know of an ensemble that represents this next generation of performers, let us know and they may be featured on our podcast.

Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau

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Ars Antigua Presents: July 2012 edition

By the late 17th century, the term “consort music” had given way to such now familiar terms as concert, concerto, and sonata. For the century prior, and especially in the Jacobean era, consort music was extraordinarily popular in England. It was in the twilight of consort music that the publisher John Carr compiled an anthology of several consorts and airs, which was titled Tripla Concordia.

Matthew Locke (ca. 1621-1677)

A few years later, in the twilight of his own life, the sometime theatrical composer and organist Matthew Locke edited Carr’s anthology and added three of his own suites. This was likely the last consort music Locke ever wrote, as he died a little later in that year (1677). Consort music represented the bulk of Locke’s compositions, but oddly he hadn’t composed any for nearly twenty years prior to the publication of Tripla Concordia. The structure of the three suites he submitted closely resembled some of his own theater music.

The Wayward Sisters are a group of young performers who met at Oberlin Conservatory. They were winners of the 2011 Early Music America/Naxos Recording Competition.

Ars Antigua Presents promotes the work of early music students at the high school and college levels. If you know of an ensemble that represents this next generation of performers, let us know and they may be featured on our podcast.

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Ars Antigua Presents: June 2012 edition

Probably the greatest Spanish Renaissance composer, Tomás Luis de Victoria was born in Avila in 1548. He began his musical career as a choirboy at Avila Cathedral and by 1565 was enrolled as a singer at the Jesuit Collegio Germanico in Rome. While there, he composed his first motets under the tutelage of Palestrina. As an organist and maestro di cappella, Victoria held various posts during his time in Italy. He continued composing motets, hymns, and masses which won him great acclaim in his native Spain. He returned home in 1587, composing polychoral masses, Magnificat settings and psalms until his death in 1611.

The nine-part Missa pro victoria was composed in 1600 to celebrate the Treaty of Vervins. This mass, apparently a favorite of King Philip III, is one of several Spanish battle masses that was partly based upon Clément Janequin’s 1528 chanson, La guerre. It is from the Missa pro victoria that we will hear this month’s selections, Gloria, Sanctus, and Benedictus. The performers are a Chicago-based a cappella ensemble, the Marion Consort, under the direction of Amy Bearden.

 

The Marion Consort (photo by Ian Brown)

The Marion Consort specializes in choral music of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods and will be performing again in Chicago on the last weekend of July, 2012. Be sure to check in with us here at Ars Antigua Presents for more details.

Ars Antigua Presents promotes the work of early music students at the high school and college levels. If you know of an ensemble that represents this next generation of performers, let us know and they may be featured on our podcast.

 

Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau

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Ars Antigua Presents: May 2012 edition

MARY SLIVA, violin

Today we will be highlighting the achievements of 15-year-old violinist Mary Sliva. Mary was the Early Music category winner of the 2012 Walgreens Concerto Competition.

She has been playing violin for ten years and frequently performs around the Chicago area both as a soloist and in ensemble with her seven musical siblings. Mary gets lots of support from her family, her violin teacher Julie Maura Bickel and her musical family at Midwest Young Artists.

Part of Mary’s prize for winning the Walgreen’s Concerto Competition was the opportunity to record with world-renowned harpsichordist, David Schrader. Here is violinist Mary Sliva and harpsichordist David Schrader in the first movement—Allegro moderato—of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in a minor, BWV 1041.

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Ars Antigua Presents: April 2012 edition

We’ll be traveling to 17th century Italy now to hear the three-movement cantata “Clori mia, Clori bella” by the man who penned over 600 such works, Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725). In an era when cantatas rivaled operas for refinement and were considered the ultimate challenge to a composer’s artistry, Scarlatti was among the last to contribute significantly to the literature. The vast majority of Scarlatti’s cantatas were for solo soprano and continuo, and we will hear that combination, with the addition of director Gary Berkenstock playing recorder.

Scarlatti (1660-1725)

Chicago Early Music Consort

Stephanie Sheffield—soprano

Phillip W. Serna—bass viol

Joel Spears—theorobo

Gary Berkenstock—recorder

 

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Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau

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Ars Antigua Presents: March 2012 edition

This month we are featuring the Italian baroque composer and violinist, Francesco Maria Veracini. Born in 1690 and living until 1768, Veracini came from a family of musicians and artists. Although hailing from Florence, Veracini spent much of his life playing all over Europe, including London, Prague, and Dresden. In 1722, Veracini tossed himself from a third story window, apparently in a fit of madness. This madness and eccentricity of Veracini is palpable in many of his works, as he pursued more progressive compositional styles.

While in Dresden, Veracini started using Overtures to introduce his sonatas, a practice which was unheard of in Italy up to that point. We’ll hear an example of that practice now in Veracini’s Sonata opus 1, number 1 in g minor. This performance is by Concitato.

Concitato (l to r: Ezra Seltzer, Jeffrey Grossman, and Joan Plana) (Photo courtesy of Concitato)

(Veracini’s Sonata in g minor is in five movements: Overture-Allegro, Aria, Paesana, Menuet and Giga-Allegro)

 

Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau

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Ars Antigua Presents February 2012 edition

Not much is known about the Italian composer and clergyman, Diogenio Bigaglia. He was born in Venice around 1676 and died there in 1745. He composed several dozen sacred oratorios, masses, and motets, the majority of which have been lost. He also composed some instrumental works, including twelve violin sonatas and this month’s featured work, a sonata for recorder and continuo.

Many critics compare Bigaglia’s sonatas with the beautiful works of his more prolific contemporaries, Giovanni Bononcini, Benedetto Marcello, and Francesco Veracini. This Sonata in g minor is in four movements: Adagio, Allegro assai, Siciliana, and Giga. Here to perform it is Carolina Pro Musica, featuring Edward Ferrell, recorder.

Carolina Pro Musica performs Bigaglia’s Sonata in g minor:

(Video courtesy of Carolina Pro Musica)

Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau

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Ars Antigua Presents: January 2012 edition

Interior of Salzburg Dom. Photo by Miles Berry

Our featured composer for January is the 17th century Bohemian composer, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. Biber was one of the finest violinists of his day and his violin sonatas continue to be performed with regularity. Biber also wrote a substantial amount of sacred instrumental and choral music, from which we will sample here.

Biber’s Missa Christi resurgentis was composed in 1674 while the composer was working in Salzburg. This mass, like so many of his sacred works, was originally meant to be performed in the Salzburg Cathedral, with different instrumental and vocal groups separated spatially throughout the church.

Biber (1644-1704)

Cambridge Concentus, (under the direction of Joshua Rifkin) performs the Gloria from Biber’s Missa Christi resurgentis in this live performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau

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