After the fringe concert of Dialogue on a Kiss, it was with trepidation I went to another fringe concert of the Early Music Festival 2016 at Utrecht’s Pieterskerk. If it was going to be a concert with songs, it would undoubtedly be a disappointment. On the other hand, if ensemble Gran Teatro del Mundo was going to perform instrumental works, there would be no problem at all.
As luck had it, I was early and got a seat on one of the church benches and between 10 to 15 rows from the stage. Ensemble Gran Teatro del Mundo was going to perform “L’Opera au Salon”, but all pieces were instrumental. As the ensemble’s traverse player Johanna Bartz explained to the audience, there were no CDs nor radio in the 17th and 18th century, so people performed instrumental versions of opera songs and music they liked. Fine by me. I am not fond of operas, but instrumental versions or adaptations for salon performances are perfect.
The ensemble had select tunes and pieces from operas by Lully, Campra and Marais suitable for instrumental salon performances. The selected works were divided around four themes or acts. Each act had a written text, but these the public had to read from the leaflet. This ensured quite a few in the audience losing track of which act and musical piece they were hearing. Or as my neighbour put it to me: “Where are we now?”
The ensemble made up of this by starting the first act of their performance with gusto. It was the overture in d from Lully’s opera Roland. Like most pieces by Lully in this concert, it was played with great spirit. Not that the Teatro were grand in the brighter and louder pieces. The Ritournelle in C from Marin Marais’ opera “Alcyone” was a quiet piece played very, very movingly and with great thought and feeling.
In the second Act it was another piece by Lully which impressed. It was the Air pour les demons et les monsters in G from his opera “Amadis”. The third Act was all about “dépit”, storms and quakes. The Tremblement de terre in F from marin marais’ Séméle was a real theatre piece with viola da gamba and harpsichord giving a good impression of an earthquake. Act 4 ended with the well-known Chaconne in G from Marais’ Sémélé.
By then, the public had been totally won over by the brilliant and con spirit performance by the ensemble. A standing ovation which did not stop till the musicians granted their public an encore. Brilliant performance in a church which seems best suited to orchestral, instrumental concerts.
Act I heureux qui peut être assuré de disposer de son cœur à son gré ! Cést un secret digne d’envie. Mais de tous les secrets, cést le plus ignoré :
Lully : ouverture in D from Roland, 1685
André Campra : menuet nr 1 & 2 in g from l’ Europe Galante, 1697
Marin Marais : Ritournelle in C from Alcyone, 1707
Marin Marais : 2ieme Air pour les furies in F from Sémélé, 1709
Lully : Petit air in G from Phaëton, 1683
Act II Chacun porte en son Coeur son plus grand ennemi:
André Campra : Prelude pour le 1ier cavalier espagnol in C from L Europe Galante and
André Campra : Air pour le 2ieme cavalier espagnol in G from L Europe Galante
Lully : Air pour les démons et les monstres in G, from Amadis, 1684
Act III : Le dépit est plus fort, moins il est apparent, el l’orage est à craindre oú le calme est trop grand :
Marin Marais : Prélude in C from Alcyone; Tremblement de terre in F, from Sémélé ; Tempête in Bes from Alcyone
Acte IV : Mort, le dernier pas qu’on fait, et souvant un faux pas:
Lully : Sommeil in g from Atys, 1676
Marin Marais: Chaconne in G from Sémélé
The texts were taken from Armide and Astrate roi de Tyre, by Philippe Quinault.
Ensemble Gran Teatro del Mundo:
Johanna Bartz, traverso
Miriam Jorde Hompanera, hoboe
Coline Ormond, violin
Bruno Hurtado Gosalvez, viola da gamba
Jadran Duncumb, theorbe (and quite an interesting one)
Julio Caballero Përez, harpsichord
The ensemble Gran Teatro del Mundo is based in Basel.