Water has always played a prominent role in music: its babbling, gurgling, plashing, whooshing, roaring, thundering, fizzing, sparkling, bubbling, trickling, surging and splattering – be it in a fountain, a brook, a river, a lake or the ocean. Composers have been inspired by iridescent light reflections on water as well as its quicksilver agility or the meditative moments of gazing across water. But also the frightening elemental forces of storm-tossed seas and rivers that burst their banks have from time immemorial engaged composers: the dark side of the elements that, for instance, found its echo in Marin Marais’s Tempête from the tragédie en musique Alcyone. This storm music, which in the Baroque opera accompanies the sinking of King Ceix together with his soldiers, is set at the beginning of this Berlin concert of the Akademie für Alte Musik.
Michel-Richard de Lalande’ssuite from the divertissement Les Fontaines de Versailles makes use of less dramatic sounds: here the countless water grottos and fountains of the superbly landscaped Versailles Palace Gardens are depicted in music. The evening concludes with Georg Philipp Telemann’s suite Hamburger Ebb und Fluth (which paints a picture in sound of the sea with its unexpected mood swings) and George Frideric Handel’s well-knownWater Music, first played on 17 July 1717 as the musical background for a boat trip taken from Whitehall to Chelsea by the English King George I.