Baroque soundscapes

The “Original Sounds” concert series

Hesperion XXI
(Photo: MNAC-3)

The four concerts in the Original Sounds series show just how versatile and stylistically varied the music of the Baroque era was. The first concert, given by the Venice Baroque Orchestra, is dedicated to violin concertos by the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi plus works by Francesco Geminiani and Benedetto Marcello. The soloist is a violinist who is a renowned Vivaldi specialist: Giuliano Carmignola. He discovered the works of the Baroque masters through his father, who was a violinist in an amateur orchestra. “They rehearsed in the sacristy of an old church, and I was often there as a child. I was fascinated by the music and, of course, the atmosphere, the candles, and the smells. Since then, this music has always evoked strong emotions in me,” Carmignola revealed in an interview. So it is no surprise that his Vivaldi performances are so exciting and thrilling. As the press wrote, he has a “wonderfully light bowing technique and a warm, glowing tone”. His fast-paced, virtuoso playing is also much acclaimed. “With Vivaldi, virtuosity is only means to an end – to musical subtlety and expression,” says the violinist.

Musical rediscoveries

Jordi Savall and his ensemble Hespèrion XXI are a byword for brilliant performances of Spanish Baroque music. We can also thank the tireless efforts of the Catalan viol player and conductor for a number of exciting musical rediscoveries in recent decades. “Discovering a beautiful piece of music is always like being given a present,” says Savall. For their concert in the Chamber Music Hall, Savall and Hespèrion XXI are joined by the Mexican Tembembe Ensamble Continuo, founded in 1998, which specialises in the performance of Early music from Latin America. Together, they present a programme of works by Spanish and Latin American composers from the 16th and 17th centuries, plus music by unknown Irish composers from the 18th century. The concert by Phantasm and Concerto Melante, on the other hand, takes us to very different soundscapes. The viol consort Phantasm, founded by Laurence Dreyfus in 1994, plays viol music by English composers from the 16th and 17th centuries, while Concerto Melante, which consists of members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, presents Dietrich Buxtehude’s cantata cycle Membra Jesu Nostri with an ensemble of vocal soloists. An unusual instrumental and vocal mix that stands out due to one thing in particular: its meditative power of suggestion that invites contemplation, introspection and reflection.

Water, water everywhere...

The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, one of the leading ensembles in terms of historically-informed performance practice, is what you could call a regular guest in the Original Sounds series. This time, their programme is entitled Water Music and brings together four examples of Baroque tone painting which portray the theme of “water” in different ways: stormy and menacing in Marin Marais’ Tempête or bubbly and playful in Michel-Richard de Lalande’s suite from the divertissement Les Fontaines de Versailles. Georg Philipp Telemann’s suite depicts the phenomenon of the tides, and of course the programme could not fail to include Handel’s famous Water Music which he wrote for a boat trip on the Thames by King George I. The Akademie für Alte Musik concert is conducted by the violinist Georg Kallweit.

Venice Baroque Orchestra
(Photo: Harald Hoffmann)
Giuliano Carmignola
(Photo: Anna Carmignola)
Tembembe Ensamble Continuo
(Photo: privat)
Concerto Melante
(Photo: Alessandro Cappone)
(Photo: Marco Borggreve)
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
(Photo: Uwe Arens)