Early Music Vancouver (EMV) commences its 50th Anniversary Season with Le Concert Spirituel: Baroque Orchestral Suites on September 28, 2019 at 7:30pm at Christ Church Cathedral. Inspired by the seminal 18th-century French concert series, 16 members of Victoria Baroque present a lavish pairing of French Overture Suites and Italian Concerti Grossi. Treasured Canadian icon, baroque violinist, and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra Musical Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon, who recently relocated to Victoria from her long-time home in Toronto, leads this celebration of the birth of the public concert in 18th-century Europe.
Le Concert Spirituel: Baroque Orchestral Suites is a tribute to the Parisian concert series founded in 1725 that first brought music previously exclusive to the courts to the public realm. This series became the most important European platform not only for the best French artists, but also for presenting and disseminating the work of the most accomplished European composers and musicians of the 18th century.
The concert series was founded under the reign of Louis XV when public performances of music in Paris were strictly regulated by the Royal Opera, which enjoyed a monopoly over all public musical activities. The opera, however, was not permitted to give performances during Holy Week, Easter Season, and on holy days — leaving the musicians temporarily out of work. In 1725, to help keep the stream of music uninterrupted despite the limits imposed by the Church, Anne Danican Philidor, a composer and the king’s court oboist, obtained permission to present public concerts while the opera was closed. This was granted on the condition they did not include works with French texts or music from the opera. For the next 65 years, the concerts included in this increasingly popular series featured sacred and instrumental works, performed by musicians of the finest calibre from all over Europe. This was the first time that lavish performances of instrumental music and sacred motet, previously reserved for the privacy of the courts, were available to the Parisian public for the cost of admission. Le Concert Spirituel became widely popular, soon inspiring similar concert series to sprout up in other major European cities.
Victoria Baroque’s programme celebrates music and composers known to have been a part of this series. It begins with Michel Richard Delalande’s Fantasie ou Caprice que la Roy demandoit souvent. Delalande was one of Louis XIV’s favourite composers and was charged with providing music at royal chapel services and elaborate daily dinner parties at Versailles. His music was widely loved and became a staple at early Le Concert Spirituel performances. In addition to French music, however, Le Concert Spirituel became a platform for musicians from other traditions, most notably Italian and German. For instance, Francesco Geminiani Geminio’s Grosso in D minor Op. 2 No. 3 is a masterpiece written in the Italian style of Antonio Corelli. The first half of the concert concludes with a performance of Georg Philipp Telemann’s Overture Suite in D major for two horns, two oboes, and strings, composed in 1765.
The concert’s second half opens with a chamber work: the chaconne from celebrated baroque violinist and composer Jean-Marie Leclair’s Premiere Recreation de Musique Op.6. Considered the founder of the French violin school, Leclair, like Delalande, was employed by Louis XV for many years. The full orchestra then performs a work by another notable violinist-composer in Louis XV’s employ: Jean-Joseph de Mondonville, who directed the “orchestra-in-residence” that was created for Le Concert Spirituel, and that operated from 1755–62. His Sonate en Symphonie Op. 3 No. 1 was a regular feature at Spirituel concerts.
The evening concludes with Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony no. 30 in C Major. Hugely popular with Parisians, Haydn’s symphonies often opened Le Concert Spirituel performances in the 1770s and 80s.
Early Music Vancouver presents Le Concert Spirituel: Baroque Orchestral Suites
Date: September 28, 2019 at 7:30pm
Pre-Concert Talk with Jeanne Lamon and Matthew White at 6:45pm
Address: Christ Church Cathedral
690 Burrard St, Vancouver BC, V6C 2L1
Ticket Prices: From $18
Box Office: www.earlymusic.bc.ca or 604.822.2697
Photo by Jan Gates
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