Saturday baroque

All these baroque music videos and not a single harpsichord? Time to remedy that.

Here, Rafael Puyana plays a harpsichord built in 1740 by Hieronymus Albrecht Hass. Notice the three manuals (separate keyboards). Continue reading “Saturday baroque”

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Saturday baroque, feat. the baryton

Following on last Saturday’s videos, here are some Haydn trios for the baryton, viola, and cello. The baryton is a bass viola da gamba with plucked strings concealed in the back of the neck. A skilled performer can bow the instrument in the usual way while also plucking the concealed strings with the left thumb.

We’re told that the baryton is also called viola di pardone because of a charming story that the inventor was a condemned prisoner who won a pardon for devising this unusual viol.

The modern revival of the baryton began with the instrument in the following video: a 1934 copy of a richly decorated eighteenth-century original. This baryton is now in the collection of the Orpheon Foundation, Vienna, Austria, and it has its own webpage. It’s one of the best looking instruments, of any kind, that I’ve ever seen. Continue reading “Saturday baroque, feat. the baryton”

Saturday baroque: Les Indes galantes

I’m always interested in European images of American Indians. So this week I have for you a clip from a recent staging of the 1736 opéra-ballet Les Indes galantes, by Jean-Philippe Rameau.

In good orientalist fashion, the work lumps together stories of Turks, Persians, and American Indians under the heading of “the gallant Indies.” This dance is from the fourth and final part, “Les Sauvages,” in which the chief’s daughter, Zima, chooses an Indian called Adario for her lover, rejecting the advances of both a Frenchman and a Spaniard. (You can spot the two European rivals in the background toward the end of the dance.) Continue reading “Saturday baroque: Les Indes galantes”

Saturday baroque

I haven’t posted any music videos in a while, so here’s an entire baroque concert. It’s the baroque portion of a program presented by Jordi Savall (viola da gamba) and members of his ensemble Hespèrion XXI.

The stock tune “La follia” (also called “las folias,” “les folies d’Espagne,” etc.) is a theme of this concert. Countless musicians improvised on this simple Iberian melody, which evoked a mood of passionate longing. There’s an entire website devoted to this “most lasting and famous tune in western music.” This MIDI file plays the Follia theme by itself.

Antonio Martín y Coll: Diferencias sobre las folias
Jordi Savall performs variations on the Follia theme for viola da gamba. This Spanish piece dates from the early 1700s. Note the rhythmic back-and-forth between the viol and castanets in the last diferencia. Continue reading “Saturday baroque”