At the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) in the South Melbourne Town Hall on September 23, 2016, Sara Macliver, Paul Wright & The Italian Baroque is a concert that will present a selection of rarely heard vocal and instrumental works from some well known, and other lesser known composers of the highly innovative Baroque era in music (1600 – 1750).
By the turn of the seventeenth century, the harmonic unison of music was met morphing to embrace all the passions of the heart and soul.
It reflected both anguish and torment balanced by pure moments of joy and elation as it reached out dramatically to touch the sublime.
It heralded the changing artistic ideals in Europe as it evolved from the style of calm, assured, mature melody exhibiting proportion, harmony, clarity and unity in diversity that had dominated the High Renaissance in Italy, to music of great abundance that both expressed and encompassed eruptive power, emphasizing and enlivening the sacred and secular spaces it invaded through emotion.
Recreating ancient Greek drama, the Florentine Camerata were an important group of musical amateurs, who met to discuss literature, science and the arts from the 14 January 1573 at Count Giovanni Bardi’s house in Florence. They effectively established a completely new manner of singing in an atmosphere where dramatic expressiveness flourished and the skills of moving and acting while singing would now be learned.
The hero was a virtuosic vocalist and that could mean the main role would be taken by a female soprano or male flasettist (boy soprano or castrato) with the concept of a voice linked to gender not yet an issue.
The first ‘jewel’ composition on offer suggests sounds of the music of the night on the streets of Madrid by an Italian born cellist from Lucca, who influenced the development of the string quartet.
Cellist Luigi Rodolfo Boccherini (1743-1805) composed his work for stringed instruments Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid Op 30, no. 6 around 1780. It will enfold the audience in the grand manner Baroque atmosphere from the start.
Dramatically animated works by the ‘red priest’ Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) who at the height of his career was completing commissions from European nobility and royalty are among the most favoured of all Baroque works.
This program includes four; his Violin Concerto in E major RV270 il Riposo, his Trio Sonata in D minor RV63 La folia, his Sinfonia in D major RV125 and the very beautiful Sovente il sole from Perseo.
From a two part ceremonial cantata put together with works from a number of composers and performed in Venice in 1726 Sovente il sole is an aria that proves Vivaldi was a lyrically a poet of great pastoral tenderness.
Lucca local violinist and composer Giovanni Lorenzo Gregori (1663-1745) stayed all his life in the town where he was born, founding The Musical Brotherhood and working at the local palace 1688-1692).
The first to use the term ‘Concerto grosso’ in 1698, describing orchestral music characterised by contrasting a small group of soloists with the full orchestra, and it became popular secular court music.
It is perhaps fitting the ANAM orchestra will perform his Concerto Grosso in C major Op 2, No 1, described as ‘authentic jewel that must be known’. It is full of all the joys of the Baroque, its love of life, moving, decorative and entertaining while reflecting the affections of modern man.
Antonio Caldara (1670-1736) was maestro di cappella for Duke Ferdinando Carlo of Mantua.
He composed operas and the oratorio Maddalena ai piedi di Christo (Magdalene at the Feet of Christ) in which the soul of Maddalena is in a battle with both good and evil through music.
The aria In lagrime strempato is an exquisite work of quiet simplicity, that many consider far ‘too beautiful to be neglected’ and should be a wonderful vehicle for Sara McLiver’s fine voice. The great success of Baroque music is that it elevated melody and singing and placed it at the essence of the soul.
A Sonata by Domenico Scarlatti has been turned to new account by much admired Melbourne Jazz pianist Jo Chindamo, which means the Sonata in G after Scarlatti should provide a delightful ending to this concert of treasures.
You will just have to be there.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016