FRENCH ELEGANCE: COUPERIN, MARAIS & MORE
Saturday, September 11th 2021 at 8PM
Alix Goolden Performance Hall
Suzie LeBlanc, soprano
Marc Destrubé, violin
Kathryn Wiebe, violin
Natalie Mackie, viola da gamba
Christina Hutten, harpsichord & organ
In the Palace of Versailles, the Sun King Louis XIV held a court widely known for its extravagance. He celebrated the arts and employed many musicians to play ballets, operas, and other official ceremonies for the entertainment of foreign guests. French Elegance is a concert of music from this period, exuding the glory of France through the mighty chaconne.
Michel Lambert (1610 - 1696)
Ma bergère est tendre et fidelle, from Airs à une, II. III. et IV. parties avec la basse-continue (1689)
Louis Couperin (1626 - 1661)
Prélude non mesuré and Chaconne in G Minor (ca. 1660)
François Couperin ‘le Grand’ (1668 - 1733)
L’Espagnole from Les Nations (1726)
(Sonade) Gravement, et mesuré – très lentement
Vivement – doux et affectueusement
Légèrement – gayement – air tendre –
vivement et marqué
Seconde Courante (un peu plus vivement)
Gigue lourée (modérément)
Gavotte (tendrement, sans lenteur)
Bourée (gayement); double
Passacaille (noblement et marqué)
Marin Marais (1656 - 1728)
Chaconne in C Major, from Pièces de Viole, Livre 3 (c. 1711)
‘Jugez de ma douleur en ces tristes adieux’, from Airs à une, II. III. et IV. parties avec la basse-continue (1689)
COVID SAFETY PROTOCOLS:
The health and safety of our patrons, musicians, staff, and volunteers is of paramount concern. Please see below to read the steps we are taking to ensure everyone's safety while enjoying the concert:
Reduced audience numbers in socially distanced seats
Masks are required for everyone aged 12 and up
Once seated, audience member must remain in their seats
The venue will be sanitized before each performance
Doors will be opened 30 minutes before the performance
Concert will be about 1 hour in length with no intermission
Entrance for the concert will be at the Victoria Conservatory of Music Main Entrance- 900 Johnson Street.
This concert is generously supported by
Turnham Woodland and the Gudewill Family
Michel Lambert was a performer, composer, and vocal instructor, and a long-time member of the 17th century French court. His early years of training were under the protection of Cardinal Richelieu and later Gaston D’Orléans, the brother of Louis XIII and uncle of Louis XIV. He would serve in the court of the monarchs as the Maître de la Musique de la Chambre du Roi, working closely with his son-in-law, Jean-Baptiste Lully. By his death in 1696 at the age of 86, Lambert had trained a considerable number of French singers, written a treatise on the art of singing, and published two collections of airs de cour, or secular court songs.
His first book of airs, composed in 1660, contained only 20 songs, all but one for solo voice. This was very well received and established his celebrity as a vocal composer. His second collection from 1689 contained 60 entries, varying from solo dramatic narratives to ensembles for five voices. The texts of these airs were often in a rural setting, expressing the torments of love or the regrets of a spurned lover. In “Ma bergère est tendre et fidèle”, this theme takes on a mocking tone as the chaconne structure obstinately unfolds. Lambert often selected anonymous texts, or chose from writers like Philippe Quinault, Lully’s librettist. Most importantly, Lambert succeeded in combining popular Italian-style monody with courtly French elegance, whilst allowing the music to serve the poetry.
Louis Couperin was an early but important member of the Couperin musical dynasty. He was uncle to the more celebrated François Couperin, but sadly died in 1661 at the age of 35, before his nephew’s birth. The first record of his musical career appears in 1650; little is known about his life and training in his early years.
A unique feature in the work of Louis Couperin is the precise dating of each of his compositions, allowing scholars to trace his musical development from 1650 to 1659. He is mainly recognized for his keyboard works, and his musical style is known for its startling rhythms, striking harmonies, and chains of suspensions that capture the listener’s attention in successive moments.
In contrast to this style, his chaconnes have a forced sense of unity owing to the repetitive ground bass. The majority of these use a strict rondeau form, using insistent repetitions of a grand couplet (direct quote of the opening material) until a sudden break at the final statement.
François Couperin’s ‘Les Nations’ came about through the composer’s attempt to synthesize the French and Italian musical aesthetics into what he called “les goûts réunis”. Born into a family of organists in 1668, François Couperin was recruited to the court of Louis XIV in 1693 as the Organist du roi. Music at the French court in these years was still under the shadow of Jean-Baptiste Lully, who required a strict adherence to dance forms, and to musical qualities of douceur and naturalness. However, Couperin was also charmed by the sonatas of Arcangelo Corelli, and throughout his career tried to incorporate the Italian composer’s idiomatic writing, use of sequences, and well-structured sonata forms into his own works.
‘Les Nations’ is a set of four ordres (composer’s term), listed in its initial publication as ‘sonades et suites de simphonies en trio.’ It was published in 1726, near the end of Couperin’s career. Each ordre is titled after a political power that would have had influence in Couperin’s time and is a diptych of an Italian-style sonata and a French suite in a single key. In three of the four ordres, the sonata portion had been written several years earlier under a different title. Couperin’s preface to ‘Les Nations’ tells of how performances of these early sonatas were given under the harmless guise of being composed by a distant Italian relative, to test the audience’s reactions more authentically, which were fortunately positive.
The sonata element of ‘L’Espagnole’ (Spain) had its first incarnation as ‘La Visionnaire’, in reference to a comedy by Jean Desmarets, Sieur de Saint-Sorlin. The middle of its passacaille has hints of Spanish castanets. ‘La Françoise’ (France) originated as ‘La Pucelle’ (from Joan of Arc). ‘La Piemontoise’ (Piedmont joining Savoy and becoming the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1718), was originally titled ‘LʼAstrée’ after the famous pastoral poem by Honoré dʼUrfée. The final ordre, ‘L’Imperiale,’ is a reference to the Holy Roman Empire, and perhaps looks forward to Couperin’s German colleague J.S. Bach in its influence.
Marin Marais was born in Paris in 1656 to humble origins. He joined the choir school of St Germain-l'Auxerrois in 1667, then completed his musical studies with bass viol player Sainte-Colombe. His musical abilities quickly excelled enough for him to be hired to the court of Louis XIV in 1676. He played, conducted, and composed for the court until his retirement in 1725.
Marais’s fame came foremost as a viol virtuoso, frequently playing his own compositions to great acclaim. He published five books of pieces for viol and continuo over his career, totaling 596 pieces grouped into 39 suites. His works often contain characteristics of program music, or a narrative story through musical effects. Examples include the sounds of bells, blacksmith shops, or military marches. He used instrumental timbres, harmonic effects, and performer virtuosity to create these allusions, supplying specific notes in his scores on how to perform them.
- Notes by Paul Winkelmans
Single Tickets: $25 + tax & fees
Purchase your ticket by clicking here.
Please note that there will be no Festival Passes available this year.
GETTING TO ALIX GOOLDEN HALL
Alix Goolden Hall is located at 907 Pandora Ave.
Parking is available on the public streets in the area. There are two parking lots:
• on Pandora below Blanshard St. (behind Rotherham Place)
• at the Johnson St. Parkade, 750 Johnson Street (between Douglas and Blanshard)