The Lord of Salisbury his Pavan . . . . . . . . . . Orlando Gibbons Ground (1583-1625) Toccata . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Girolamo Frescobaldi Cento partite sopra Passacagli (1583-1643) Pièces à deux, opus 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jacques Hotteterre Rondeau gay (1674-1763) Passacaille Intermission Sonata in E minor, opus 5, no. 8 . . . . . . . . . Arcangelo Corelli Preludio (1653-1713) Allemanda Sarabanda Giga Pièces de clavecin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jacques Duphly Les graces (1715-1789) La de Belombre Irish Airs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Turlough O’ Carolan Hewlitt (1670-1738) Sí beag, Sí mhór arr.D.W.S Carolan’s Concerto
Though he was regarded as “the best finger of the age,” Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) largely refrained from technical display in his dignified, sonorous keyboard works. The Pavan “Lord Salisbury” is one of his best known and most beautiful pieces. It was published in Parthenia (1613), the first English collection of printed keyboard music. It is unusual in that the repetitions of its three strains have not been written out by the composer. Tonight I will embellish these strains in a style based on that of Gibbons’s other pavans. The English term “Ground” refers to a set of variations on a bass or harmonic pattern. Gibbons’s lively piece is a setting of the well-known passamezzo antico, also set by many other keyboard composers. In the last two variations, Gibbons follows the example of his teacher William Byrd by concentrating on contrapuntal depth and complexity rather than ostentatious passage-work.
Frescobaldi was the finest and most influential keyboard composer of his time. His toccatas combine virtuoso runs and passages with rhapsodic harmonies and shocking modulations. According to the composer, they must be played with considerable rhythmic freedom and expression, in accord with their rhetorical design. Cento partite sopra Passacagli, literally, ‘one hundred variations on the passacagli,’ was first published in the 1627 edition of Book II of Toccatas and Partitas, and later revised for the 1637 edition of Book I. The passacaglio originated in the traveling music or vamp patterns (pasacalles) of Spanish guitar music. It usually consisted of variations on a simple strummed chord pattern in an easy triple meter, and often served as a transition between songs or dances. Frescobaldi’s monumental set contains two kinds of interpolated dance: the corrente, in brisk triple time, was the most popular dance of the early 17th century; the ciaccona was a sung Spanish dance (chacona) with an infectious, syncopated guitar accompaniment, based, like the passacaglio, on a repeated chord pattern. In his interpretation of the exotic Spanish guitar idiom, Frescobaldi adds considerable harmonic and motivic interest to the repeated patterns, while retaining the flamboyant rhythms and the characteristic open-string drones of the guitar original. To make this long work useful to the dance accompanist, the composer directed that the player might stop at any cadence as required. The present sequence consists of: (1) “prima parte” (passacagli in d minor), (2) Corrente (d minor), (3) Passacagli (d minor), modulating to (4) “altro tono” (passacagli in F major); then (5) Ciaccona (F Major), modulating to (6) Passacagli (C major), (7) Ciaccona (C major), modulating to (8) Passacagli (a minor), (9) Ciaccona (a minor), modulating to (10) altro tono (ciaccona in d minor); this performance concludes with (11) Passacagli altro tono (d minor). The original modulates twice more and ends in e minor, presumably in order to lead into other dances (balletti and correnti) in the collection.
Jacques Hotteterre (“Le Romain”) was a member of a renowned family of musicians and instrument makers at the court of Louis XIV who are credited with designing the baroque oboe, bassoon, recorder and flute, all with conical bores and jointed construction that allowed them to be tuned and to participate in ensembles with other instruments. He also wrote an instruction book for the new wind instruments. His unaccompanied duets were written primarily for Baroque flutes, but they are easily transposed for other pairs of instruments; they are played tonight on two treble recorders. The first selection is a sprightly bourrée en rondeau; the second, a passacaille, the French version of the passacaglio, consisting of paired four-measure phrases, and exploring several forms of woodwind articulation and rhythmic inequality.
Corelli redefined the scope and format of instrumental chamber music. His “church” works consist of abstract movements in alternating slow and fast tempos, while his “chamber” sonatas and concertos are suites of dance movements in binary form, based on French models. The sonata in E minor is a chamber sonata for violin and continuo, here played on the baroque flute developed by Hotteterre.
During the course of the 18th century, French keyboard music developed from the stereotyped patterns of dance music toward more extensive character pieces, often dedicated to a patron or friend of the composer. The works of Jacques Duphly represent some of the most successful adaptations of the Italian sonata style of Domenico Scarlatti, while retaining much of the graceful melody and ornamentation of François Couperin and Rameau. They were written during the final flowering of the French harpsichord, when it was threatened by competition from the pianoforte.
Carolan was born in County Meath, Ireland. Blinded at the age of eighteen, he was apprenticed to a harper; later he began to compose tunes and lyrics. Some two hundred tunes survive, in printed and manuscript collections, and in the orally-transmitted repertory of fiddlers and pipers. (The Irish harp tradition died out late in the 18th century.) Most of these are pieces (Planxties) named for a patron or host. Though they often resemble folk songs and dances, their phrases are are less symmetrical than those of their models, and their implied harmonies and figuration are often influenced by European composers such as Corelli and Geminiani.David Warren Steel
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