Conductor: Jordi Savall
Johann Sebastian Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D major
Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Boréades Suite
Georg Muffat: Impatientia Suite (Florilegium Primum, Fasciculus IV)
Georg Friedrich Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351
From this season’s turbulent baroque selection, one of the greatest experiences promises to be the two concerts by Grammy Award-winning early music conductor, composer and gambist, Jordi Savall. It’s a must for fans of trumpets and horns.
Bach left us four orchestral suites which he named overtures after the widely-used German baroque form that he employed in their first movements, the French overture. At the time, only the aristocracy could afford to maintain even a small string orchestra, so it was something quite out of the ordinary to hear the trumpets, timpani and horns which we consider characteristic of the genre. The Suite in D Major gives the lead to the trumpets and timpani.
The sounds of the horn then lead us into Rameau’s Suite, which the French composer took from the orchestral parts of his opera, Les Boréades. Success came rather late to Rameau, when he was in his 50s. The opera he wrote at the age of 80 would vanish and only be resurrected 200 years after his death. Its revival was well worth the effort, however, as the composer was a master of inventive rhythmical games and effects, of bold harmonies and of charming, powerful dance tunes.
Florilegium arrives to us like a lush bunch of flowers from the cosmopolitan composer Muffat, who summarised the three great musical cultures of France, Germany and Italy during his lifetime. He hated war and believed in the power of music to create peace, a theme which can be found in all of his works.
The concert draws to a close with the robust trumpets of Handel’s bright and sweeping Fireworks Suite. The piece was composed for the fireworks display to celebrate the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. The original score features an astonishing extravaganza of wind and brass: 24 oboes, 12 bassoons, 9 trumpets and 9 horns. The 12,000 people who gathered to watch the public dress rehearsal in Vauxhall held up the traffic in London for 3 hours. The première in Green Park was neither without incident; the grand pavilion constructed for the celebration caught fire and burned down after the overture.