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by Daniel Hathaway

Les-Delices-3Les Délices, the Cleveland early music ensemble that devotes itself to resurrecting treasures from the French Baroque, designed its mid-winter program, Conversations galantes, around the idea of musical conversation as that social art was practiced in the salons of eighteenth-century Paris.

Alas, there were fewer voices in last weekend’s discussions than originally planned. Nagy had lined up a program of quartets, but a sudden illness reduced the group to oboe, violin and harpsichord and the playlist had to be changed accordingly. Happily, the repartée in the altered program was probably no less eloquent. In music by Rameau, Leclair, François Couperin and Forqueret, Debra Nagy, Julie Andrijeski and Michael Sponseller provided plenty of engaging wit and delicious colloquy to delight the audience at Tregoning & Co. gallery on Saturday evening.

The hour-long program began and ended with all hands on deck. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Daniel Hautzinger

Les-Delices-3The salons of eighteenth century Paris sparkled with witty repartee, political argument, fashionable taste-making, and philosophical deliberation. The rigid hierarchy of the French court disappeared as ranks and genders mingled in exquisite conversation. On Saturday, February 1 at 8:00 pm at Tregoning & Co. Gallery in Cleveland and on Sunday, February 2 at 4:00 pm in Herr Chapel at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, French Baroque specialists Les Délices will recreate that environment with their program Conversations Galantes.

Conversations galantes is the idea of intellectual exchange that happens within the salon,” oboist and Les Délices director Debra Nagy said during a recent telephone conversation. “We’re featuring some of the earliest French quartet repertory, which is based on that idea of conversation, where all the voices are equal and contribute to what’s happening melodically.”

The title of the program comes from a 1743 collection of quartets by Louis-Gabriel Guillemain, some of which will be performed. Read the rest of this entry »

by Nicholas Jones

Les-Delices-Woman-Scorned-BustaAnger, murder, guilt, and recrimination! The last episode of Breaking Bad? No: this was the opening concert of the season for Les Délices, the remarkable Cleveland-based chamber group specializing in music of the French baroque.

The program, “A Woman Scorned,” featured lurid stories of betrayal and revenge involving five of the great women characters of classical myth. These were stories that the court of Louis XIV loved, apparently seeing them as safe ways in which to rehash their own tortuous infidelities: Juno, the goddess jealous of her philandering husband Jove; Phaedra, driven mad by passion for her stepson; Armida, sorceress and seductress; Circe, who turned men to beasts; and Medea, sorceress and lover—passed over by Jason for a younger woman, she proceeds to poison her rival and then murder her own children in order to drive her ex to kill himself.

Not material for the faint-hearted. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Oberlin-BPI-OrchestraWe could have chosen all Transylvanian music,” quipped artistic director Kenneth Slowik during the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute faculty concert in Warner Concert Hall last Friday evening, “but we decided to go for quality: Austria.” This year’s BPI theme focused on music by composers who lived and worked in lands touched by the Danube River, with special attention to the exotic string music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. In addition to his Battalia, student and faculty ensembles regaled a large and appreciative audience with music by Georg Muffat, Emperor Leopold I, Johann Joseph Fux and the young Joseph Haydn.

Though most of the repertory on Friday evening fell into the “not often played nor heard” category, Biber’s battle piece had the distinction of appearing on two area concert programs last week (it was also on the menu for ChamberFest Cleveland at Mixon Hall on Wednesday evening). This short and entertaining Baroque tone poem from 1673 depicts a motley and dissolute group of soldiers who get drunk and sing different songs at the same time, go into battle then lament their fallen fellows. An ensemble of three violins, four violas, two cellos, theorbo and harpsichord led by principal violinist Julie Andrijeski created cacophony worthy of Charles Ives and plausible battle sounds with dramatic snap pizzicatos. Read the rest of this entry »

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