February 9, 2020
BEnaroya Hall, SEattle
Music on mythological themes by Bernier, Campra, Jacquet, and Rebel featuring the brilliant bass-baritone Jonathan Woody.
“Jonathan Woody…sang with resonance and authority.”
— Charles T. Downey, Washington Post
Sonata no. 1 in A Major
Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre:
Sonata no. 1 in D Minor
Les Cyclopes for harpsichord
Plainte and Chaconne in D Major from Book 3 for viol and continuo
“Jonathan Woody was riveting… his voice nimble and focused.”
— Corinna da Fonseca-Wol
lheim, New York Times
Great movements in the history of Western music have often resulted from migrations and foreign influences. Franco-Flemish musicians working in the 16th-century Italian courts established Italy as the center of musical influence for all of Europe in the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. 100 years later Italian musicians at the French court set the trends for Europe in the late Baroque. Louis XIV established French cultural dominance in part by bringing some of the best Italian musicians and their students to France. The early 18th-century composers represented on tonight’s program were all French musicians who wrote in the Italian style – usually with a discernably French accent..
Baroque cantatas are like miniature operas typically featuring one solo voice with just a few accompanying instruments. As with the operas of the period the subject matter is often drawn from Classical Greek mythology. Heroic figures such as Orpheus are represented by high voices while monsters such as Polyphemus and comic figures such as Bacchus are represented by low voices. Bacchus and his gifts are celebrated in both of the light-hearted cantatas on our program.
André Campra, son of an Italian immigrant, was one of the leading French opera composers of his time as well as music director at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Nicolas Bernier was principally a church musician however he also published dozens of secular cantatas. A 1773 biography states that he studied with Antonio Caldara in Rome, surprising since Caldara was a bit younger than Bernier, but conceivable since Bernier might have wanted to learn directly from an Italian musician.