SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2021 AT 2 PM – 3:30 PM
Le Journal du Printemps
(The Diary of Spring)
Sunday 31st October 2021. 14:00
Etienne Rousseau Theatre
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A message from FONS PARTITA:
That the fount of good music composed in years long gone by never seems to dry up, continues to amaze. Indeed, the archives and libraries in the western world are brimming with works to be rediscovered and published, even if spectacular finds of lost works by the more famous composers are rare. The renewed interest in music of previous eras has received added impetus from the successes of the Early Music movement, and first performances and recordings of long-forgotten works appear regularly. Of course, as is also the case with contemporary music, much of the output of earlier times may rightfully be consigned to oblivion, but applying historically informed performance practice has rescued many a piece previously thought to be boring, uncovering its hidden splendour.
Our programme opens with a suite or Ouverture from a cycle titled “Le Journal du Printemps” – the Diary of Spring, by Johann Conrad Ferdinand Fischer, a Bohemian composer who spent most of his productive life at the court of Baden in Rastatt. It wants to celebrate spring, the renewal we see in nature around us, and the timid budding of our cultural life after the havoc wrought by the COVID pandemic in the cultural sphere in the last eighteen months. It presents works not likely to be found in mainstream classical music performances, and we want to show how many unknown treasures from the jewel box of history still await discovery and recognition.
Music tradition in the Baroque was a vibrant, cosmopolitan (though confined to the European sphere) affair, with composers engaging in lively interaction by studying with, borrowing from, and influencing each other from Italy to Scandinavia, from Portugal to Hungary. Musical fashions were short-lived but powerful, and performances were rarely repeated, with the listeners continually demanding fresh entertainment and innovation. The composers on our programme – Fischer, Fasch, Pachelbel, Rameau and Corette – were all well-known and famous figures on the musical stage of the late Baroque. During this time, dominated by Handel, Bach and Vivaldi in the conception of our time, French music were in vogue throughout most of Europe, and many composers adopted the French style, just as the courts imitated French customs and even spoke French.
The music in our programme exemplifies this influence but also shows the variety of musical styles existing in spite of it. It demonstrates the importance of understanding the context of the music – not taking the sheet music at face value, but bringing to life the many subtle nuances that flow from knowledge of the performance ideals of the time and the instruments employed. While acknowledging that it is impossible to know exactly how the music really sounded at the time, we as musicians act as sleuths, using clues from the original instruments and old treatises to approach what might have been the original sound experience.
This concert follows a tradition of Early Music performances presented by the Dome Arts Retreat since 2008, including the St. John’s Passion by Bach in 2016, the Requiem Mass by Mozart in 2017, Händel’s Messiah in 2018, and Haydn´s Stabat Mater in 2019. The support of the Rupert Music Foundation is gratefully acknowledged.
St Georges Church, Parktown, Johannesburg, 18:00 on 23 October 2021
Johanneskirche, Pretoria East, 15:00 on 24 October 2021
Etienne Rousseau Theatre, Sasolburg, 14:00 on 31 October 2021