United States Telemann, Forqueray, Blavet, Rameau: Juilliard Baroque, Monica Huggett (violin),Sandra Miller (flute), Sarah Cunningham (viola da gamba), Kenneth Weiss (harpsichord), Paul Hall, Juilliard School, New York, 24.9.2012 (SSM)
Georg Philipp Telemann: Concerto No. 2 in D Major, TWV43:D1 from Quadri, Hamburg 1730 (Six quatuors, Paris 1736)
Jean-Baptiste Forqueray; La Régente from Suite 3, Pièces de viole (Paris 1747)
Le Carillon de Passy from Suite 4, Pièces de clavecin (Paris 1747)
Michel Blavet: Gavotta “Les Caquets” from Sonata No. 2 in D minor
Presto from Sonata No. 1 in G major from Sonates mêlées de pièces, Op. 2 (Paris 1732)
Telemann: Sonata No. 1 in A major, TWV43:A1 from Quadri/Six quatuors
Sonata No. 1 in A minor, TWV43:a1 from Nouveaux Quatours en six suites (Paris, 1738)
|Jean-Phillippe Rameau: Concert No. 5 from Piècesde clavecin en concert (Paris 1741)
Jean-Phillippe Rameau: Tambourins from Concert No. 3 Pièces de clavecin en concert
The Historical Performance department at Juilliard, now in its fourth year, held its first major recital of the new school year with members of the faculty demonstrating their skills. As with most of the performances in previous years, the house was packed. The members of the Juilliard Baroque group vary from concert to concert, with Monica Huggett usually serving as leader-director. This year Sarah Cunningham has joined the faculty and group as viola da gambist.
The selection of works on the program was broad enough to give every instrumentalist a time to shine. Ms Huggett had several passages from the Telemann pieces to show her virtuosity. Sandra Miller played mellifluously the Blavet presto movement of the Sonata No 1 from Sonates mêlées de pièces. Sarah Cunningham excelled in a piece from Forqueray’s Suite 3 from his Pièces de viole, and Kenneth Weiss played the Le Carillon de Passy from the Suite 4 of Forqueray’s Pièces de clavecin with great delicacy.
It is easy to see why three full pieces by Telemann were on the program. There is no “complete” edition of Telemann’s works, and estimates of his total output range from 3000 to 4000 pieces. Many of these have been lost, but nonetheless his body of work is a candy store where groups of musicians can find scores that match their instruments. Want something for oboe, recorder, violin and basso continuo? Got that. Just two oboists without basso continuo? That too. Two horns and two violins with basso continuo. Of course.
As in previous faculty performances, much of the audience’s attention focused on Huggett whose skills are nonpareil. No technical difficulty seemed to phase her, and her violin produced a warm, rich and slightly dark intonation. Although the viola da gamba is not as showy as the violin, Cunningham’s expertise was apparent.
The two works by Forqueray have a bizarre history. Antoine Forqueray was viola da gambist and composer at the court of Louis XIV. With little time for his children and under constant pressure from his wife, he sent his son Jean-Baptiste to live with his grandfather. When the grandfather died, Jean-Baptiste, already a proficient viola da gambist, moved back with his father. Forqueray père, jealous of his son’s musical abilities, had him falsely imprisoned for debauchery and stealing. Ten years later, the son, having achieved fame as a musician and composer, was exiled from France by his father for the same “crimes.” A few months later the exile was rescinded, Jean-Baptiste returned, and his father moved to an estate outside Paris. Two years after Forqueray père died, Forqueray fils came out with two honorific publications: a series of suites for viola da gamba and a transcription for keyboard, advertised as written by Forqueray père. Although it is still debated, the consensus is that it is the work of Forqueray fils.
Interestingly, the solo pieces done by Cunningham and Weiss were written and published by Forqueray in additional versions: La Regente and Le Carillion de Passy are available for both viola da gamba and keyboard.
The concert ended with one of the wonderful concerts from Rameau’s Pièces de clavecin en concert. The fifth concert of the set, stylishly performed here, may well have been chosen for its opening pièce caractéristique entitled La Forqueray. To top off this beguiling evening, the group performed as an encore the tambourins from the third concert. Its humorous and rustic rhythms were captivating, with Weiss in particular playing his part in a manner that set the audience laughing.