French baroque opera FTW – Grammy 2015

The 2015 Grammy for Best Opera Recording goes to a gorgeous rarity: Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s “The Descent of Orpheus Into Hell.” This piece exemplifies several phenomena we’ve talked about!

The website of Magnificat Baroque Ensemble has an informative essay about Charpentier and Orpheus.   “The introduction of Italianate elements, looked upon by the court as foreign, and certainly not politically correct, was nevertheless stubbornly supported by a kind of cultural underground in Paris, which included the establishment at the Hôtel de Guise.” Charpentier lived in this household of his patroness, Marie de Lorraine (Mlle de Guise).

Additionally, “A unique and especially beautiful feature of this work is Charpentier’s use of the viols to accompany Orphée’s long complaint to the God of the Underworld. The low sonorities express Orphée’s despair as well as the underworld setting. But in an even deeper association, this texture of voice interwoven with viols at once acknowledges a rich and particularly French baroque instrumental tradition…” — Adapted from 2012 program essay by Susan Harvey


JOHN AHERN Harpsichord recital, March 2

Keyboardist John Ahern will be giving a senior recital on the harpsichord, March 2, 7:30 in Memorial Chapel at Stanford.  He writes:

“The music will be half rowdy Renaissance English and Dutch music and half J. S. Bach. In the mix will be the latter’s chromatic fantasia, Sweelinck’s own piece by the same name, a piece by William Byrd entitled “Jhon come kiss me nowe” (too good to be true, I know), and, to top it off, Bach’s very earnest concerto in D minor, for which I’ll have some instrumental backup.”

This would be a great concert opportunity!

“Bach in the Subways” during Spring Break

“Bach in the Subways is an international movement founded by cellist Dale Henderson to sow the seeds for future generations of classical music lovers by generating public interest and excitement for the art form. Every year on March 21, Johann Sebastian Bach’s birthday, musicians around the world celebrate Bach in the Subways Day by offering performances in subways, public spaces, and concerts open to all. The music is given freely as a gift, and as an invitation to further explore classical music.”  www.BachInThe

Add your own performance to their global list!

Concert opportunity, Friday February 20, 2015

Friday, February 20 – Concert of Renaissance and Baroque music for brass and winds, by the Dark Horse Consort.  This will be a great opportunity to learn more about early instruments and hear them in action!

“Named after the bronze horse statues at Venice’s St. Mark’s Basilica, the 4-year-old group recreates the glorious sounds of an early 17th-century brass ensemble. Guest vocalists Jolle Greenleaf and Molly Quinn join Dark Horse in their Bay Area debuts. Their concert, the weekend of February 20–22, will feature works by the famous trilogy of Heinrich Schütz, Johann Hermann Schein, and Samuel Scheidt, as well as by a half-dozen composers they influenced: Dietrich Buxtehude, Andreas Hammerschmidt, Johann Rosenmüller, Thomas Selle, Johann Vierdanck, and Matthaius Weckmann. –

If it ain’t baroque…

…you should still go see it, when “it” is the opera “The Tales of Hoffmann” simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera THIS SATURDAY, January 31.

Here are some video clips.  (You may recognize the famous “Barcarolle“.)

This opera was composed by Jacques Offenbach in 1881, so the music and characters are very Romantic.  But there is a connection to our class! – the protagonist “Hoffmann” is a fictionalized version of the German writer-musician-critic E.T.A. Hoffmann, whose essay on Beethoven we will read in Week 10.

The simulcast is at the CineArts Palo Alto Square movie theater, on the corner of El Camino and Page Mill Road (2 – 2.5 miles from the Music Building). Starts at 9:55 am, so get there a little early and grab your coffee and popcorn.