Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer: Concerto No. 4 in G major
Charles Avison: Concerto Grosso No. 5 in D minor
Georg Friedrich Handel: Silete venti, HWV 242
Tomaso Albinoni: Oboe concerto in D minor, Op. 9 No. 2
Georg Friedrich Handel: Concerto Grosso No. 3 in E minor • Piangerò la sorte mia • Da tempeste il legno infranto
Baroque gestures: Sigrid T’Hooft
The young conductor Jonathan Cohen is passionate about chamber music. His second Baroque concert of the season will feature Italian vibrations, beautiful and energetic passages, and a wonderful soprano voice from Belgium.
“Some of them are tolerable, some middling, others wretched.” Today’s audiences have rather differing opinions to those of the composer Wassenaer about his compositions, especially his beautiful Concerti Armonici series which radiates Italianate moods. The influential Dutch diplomat forbade the publication of his works under his own name, which is why, up to 1980, they had been attributed to both Pergolesi and Carlo Ricciotti. Thanks to the work of music historians, however, this shroud has now fallen.
Charles Avison is credited as having written the first piece of musical criticism in English; he also became the hero of a play, and had an orchestra and a library named after him. His best-known pieces are his concerti grossi, which took from the compositions of the Italian Domenico Scarlatti and are dominated by the melodies. Our concerts will feature the special atmosphere of his Concerto Grosso No. 5 – the moment the violins come in reminds audiences of a passionate Italian film.
The first part of the concert ends in a 1707 motet by Handel; Belgium’s Sophie Junker will be providing the virtuoso soprano voice required for his Silete venti. In the second part she’ll be singing two of Cleopatra’s dramatic arias from Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto, utilising Baroque gestures, make-up and costumes.
While we’ve touched upon the Italianate influences of Avison and Wassenaer, Tomaso Albinoni’s oeuvre is peculiar in that this Italian musician composed for pleasure and was out of touch with his contemporaries. Of his concerti, his Oboe concerto No. 2 is the best-known piece, especially its slow movement.
The happy passages lead us on to Handel’s Concerto Grosso No. 3, which brings a dark melancholy to the programme without departing from the influences of Italy.