Savall and Juilliard415 Amid the Charms of Nature

04/02/2015

United StatesUnited States Leclair, Marais, Telemann, Rameau, Handel: Amid the Charms of Nature, Juilliard415, Elizabeth Blumenstock (concertmaster), Jordi Savall (director), Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York, 31.1.2015 (SSM)

Jean-Marie Leclair: Overture to Scylla and Glaucus
Marin Marais: From Alcyone: March pour les Matelots, Tempeste
Georg Philipp Telemann: “Hamburger Ebb und Fluth”
Jean-Philippe Rameau: Orages, tonnerres et tremblementes de terre
F. Handel: Suite from Water Music

Encore:
Rameau: Final Contredanse from Les Boréades

Jordi Savall’s visits to Juilliard are eagerly awaited annual events that have been enhanced by his imaginative  program choices. Last year he covered music of Shakespeare’s time. This year, appropriately enough in a city digging out from under a few inches of snow that caused street and public transportation closures, Savall chose “program” music: music depicting storms, thunder and earthquakes. Music appreciation classes introduce children to classical music by asking them to listen and then describe what they hear. But as we refine our musical tastes, we learn that music itself cannot tell a story. Where is the sound of water in Handel’s Water Music? Who could distinguish between Telemann’s “Ebb” and his “Fluth” without a program telling us this is what we are meant to hear. Similarly, the flute or piccolo can imitate the song of a bird; but if there’s no melody, all one hears are notes from a high-pitched instrument.

 There is nothing connected to inclement weather in the overture to Leclair’s sole opera, Scylla and Glaucus, although there is later in the work. This grossly under-appreciated opera is filled with magical music. Written in 1746, it falls just short of the classical era and blends inherited Baroque opera with the developing  “reform” operas of Gluck. The arias are filled with catchy tunes, charming interludes, dances and choral accompaniment. Leclair knew he had a hit with this overture. Not only does he repeat it two more times in the opera, he later transcribed it as the opening work in his Opus 13 set of Ouvertures et Sonates en Trio. It is a classic model of the French ouverture with its broad, stately pace and the use of dotted and double-dotted notes. The middle section is a short fugue leading to a recapitulation of the opening section.  Savall took the first part of the overture a little slowly, and although it coalesced, it verged on the edge of losing its structure.

 Marin Marais, for those whose memories are short, was the young man in the film Tous les matins du monde who comes to learn at the feet of the great viola da gambist, Sainte Colombe. Marais’ opera Alcyone is another water-related work. The “March pour les Matelots” played here is an abbreviated version of the march in the opera which has alternating repetitions of the theme by soloists and chorus. The piece entitled “Tempeste” incorporates some of the stock instruments used for sound effects, including the wind machine. Whether it’s a tempest or a thunderstorm or just heat lightening really doesn’t matter: this is exciting music, played here with much enthusiasm. There was demanding instrumental material, and the student orchestra played as well as one would expect from any professional group.

 The Overture-Suite “Hamburger Ebb und Fluth” is  really no different in content and style from dozens of other pieces that Telemann wrote during his long life. Standard dance names like “gavotte” are given to the individual movements, but so too are programmatic titles such as “Naiads at play.” There was much variety, and Savall was able by subtle gestures to bring out the contrasts and create the particular spirit of each movement.

 Rameau was a great colorist with the ability to create small and unique musical sound worlds. Others had composed tempests, winds and storms, but none were as powerful as Rameau’s. He knew what to do with woodwinds and brass to let them rage beyond the more traditional imitations. Since each Rameau movement is strongly defined, it is possible to set up a suite of movements from different compositions and make them work as an entity. Marc Minkowski created a CD playlist and sampler of Rameau ‘s interludes entitled “Une symphonie imaginaire,” and Savall did something similar here: he chose 1 to 3 movements from four different operas..

 In the final piece, a Suite from Handel’s Water Music, the addition to the orchestra of brass added a brilliance to a program that up to this point had felt dark. From the opening salvos of the near-perfect brass, it was clear we were hearing music substantially more interesting than the previous works. The orchestra performed this piece, which for many in the audience has become hackneyed through overplaying, with a vigor and a physicality not seen in the evening’s earlier works.

 This was a well-played concert which is to be praised even more highly for having been rehearsed in a shorter time than usual due to the weather.

 

Stan Metzger    

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – 25 July to 1 August __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020-2021 at Dresden’s Semperoper __________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Lucerne Summer Festival – 14 August to 13 September __________________________________
  • NEW! London’s Southbank Centre in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020-2021 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall’s 2020-2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! London’s Wigmore Hall in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tamara Rojo’s new Raymonda and ENB in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! Remembering George London’s life and legacy on the 100th anniversary of his birth __________________________________
  • NEW! APOLLO FIRE’S JEANNETTE SORRELL DISCUSSES O JERUSALEM! __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST LOUIS LORTIE IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST JONATHAN BISS IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • NEW! YAN PASCAL TORTELIER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH SARDINIAN TENOR PIERO PRETTI __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH UKRAINIAN SOPRANO LIUDMYLA MONASTYRSKA __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH CHINESE SOPRANO HUI HE __________________________________
  • BEST OF 2019 FROM SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR TOM HAMMOND IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR HERVÉ NIQUET INTERVIEWED ABOUT GRÉTRY’S RICHARD, COEUR DE LION __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ANGELA GHEORGHIU IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month