October 29, 2023
University of Indianapolis
Christel De Haan Fine Arts Center
1230 Greyhound Ln, Indianapolis, IN 46227
On the Program
DAUVERGNE | Concert de Simphonies Op. 4, No. 1 in b minor
STAMITZ | Orchestral Trio in G Minor Op. 4, No. 5, Wolf Gm1
GLUCK | Dance of the Blessed Spirits
RAMEAU | Concert à 6 n. 1 in C Minor
published as “Pièces de clavecin en concerts” (1741)
transcription for 6-part string orchestra (1768)
Artistic Director & Flute Soloist
About the Program
The French music scene of the 1750s-60s was in great turmoil, with several factions fanatically fighting each other. A conservative group considered the old “grand” style of Jean-Baptiste Lully and his followers as the nec plus ultra and abhorred Jean-Philippe Rameau’s innovations. This did not hinder Rameau from becoming the most famous opera composer between 1735 and c. 1760. But from the late 1720s on, Paris had heard countless Italian vocal and instrumental virtuosos, and the Italian influence in sonatas or concertos became dominant. In opera, the Italian comic opera buffa became immensely popular, so much that the war of buffoons broke out between those who stated that French was a language in which any good singing was impossible, and other who denied that. And last but not least, a new form emerged, the symphony, mostly presented in Paris by German (or Italian)composers.
Our program has a bit of each: Dauvergne, possibly a student of Rameau’s, is a perfect polyglot: his Pièces de Symphonies are rather old-fashioned, but he also wrote a very successful comic opera in Italian style but on French text, which ended the war of buffoons. Rameau’s Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts (1741) were of a completely other genre than the chamber music of François Couperin, but still reflect the music performed in the salons or wealthy people or nobility. We perform one of these concerts in an arrangement for string ensemble, made four years after hisdeath. When Gluck wanted to perform his great opera Orfeo ed Euridice (Vienna, 1762) in a French translation in Paris (1774), he introduced some French elements if he wanted to be accepted. One of the newly composed pieces is the Scène des Champs-Elysés (Dance of the Blessed Spirits), in which the principal flutist of the Paris opera could deploy all his talents. Johann Stamitz might seem a surprise in this French program, but we should remember that he stayed in Paris for about a year in 1754-55, and performed there his Orchestral Trios (these are Symphonies for an orchestra without violas, that can be performed by a simple trio of two violins and violoncello as well). Stamitz was immensely popular in Paris, and had several of his works printed there.
Louis XV’s Paris after the Querelle des Buffons lets us discover the diversity of style and genre that was present in Paris in the 1750s-70s. From the more traditional French suite (Dauvergne) over a lively arrangement of Rameau’s innovative harpsichord pieces (made shortly after his death) and Gluck’s wonderfully expressive flute solo from the French version of his famous opera Orphée et Eurydice, to the stormy and revolutionary Mannheim-style Orchestral trio of Johann Stamitz. No wonder that several factions of music-lovers fanatically fought each other and claimed to possess the one-and-only “good taste”!
© Barthold Kuijken, July 7th , 2023