During the era of Bach and Handel, European music traveled to Asia and the Americas with missionaries, merchants, and performers. This concert, recorded in 2011, features a sonata written by a Jesuit composer for the emperor of China in the Forbidden City in 1720, along with baroque music heard in Latin America and the newly founded United States.
The Global Baroque
Charles Brink, flute
Krista Bennion Feeney, violin
Loretta O’Sullivan, cello
Andrew Appel, harpsichord and director
Rosa Lamoreaux, soprano
This concert was recorded live in the Meyer Auditorium of the Freer Gallery of Art on September 22, 2011, as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series and in conjunction with the exhibition Family Matters: Portraits from the Qing Court. The podcast is made possible through support from the Thaw Charitable Trust. Audio preservation and editing of this recording were supported by funds from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.
Ouverture (from Deuxième recréation de musique, ca. 1737)
Suite in G Minor (from Sonate d’intavolatura per organo e cimbalo, 1716)
|Anonymous (New Mexican missions, 18th century)
Dividido el Corazon
Rosa Lamoreaux, soprano
Suite in G Minor
Toca la Flauta (ca. 1671)
|Jean Philippe Rameau
Les Sauvages (from Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin, ca. 1728)
Andrew Appel, harpsichord
Cantata: O Daliso, da quell di che partisti (ca. 1710)
Recit: Ó Daliso
Sonata for Cello in A Major (1780s)
In vain is the Verdure of Spring (1799‒1802)
Sonata IX in G major (ca. 1720)
Preludio: Adagio—Allemanda: Allegro
Passacaglia and Tamborin (from Deuxième recréation de musique, ca. 1737)
Krista Feeney played a Leopold Widhalm violin from circa 1770. The instrument was a gift to Four Nations from Benjamin Diamond in honor of his father, Hyman Diamond. The restoration was a gift from Jean Hamilton in honor of her parents, Marguerite Adelmann and James Phillip Hamilton.
Introduction by Andrew Appel, director, Four Nations Ensemble
As a child growing up in New York, I was confused by the music featured in the annual celebration concerts held at the United Nations. For these august events, orchestras from all corners of the earth were given the honor of performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony together. It seemed obvious to me that only a one-sided cultural conversation was taking place. Western composers have so long been nourished, even revitalized, by such rich musical repertoires as those for the Indonesian gamelan, Chinese pipa, African drum ensembles, and Indian sitars that a more elevated and mutually respectful conversation could certainly be arranged. Only then we can renew the kind of shared wonder and excitement that was the norm in China’s Forbidden City, as heard in this concert recording. This kind of dialogue may, indeed, become normal procedure and give rise to an expanded taste and consciousness. In this concert, we hope you enjoy the music of some of those early composer-adventurers who brought the European baroque to almost every corner of the earth.
Jean-Marie Leclair (1697–1764)
Ouverture (from Deuxième Recréation de Musique)
Passacaglia and Tamborin
Jean-Marie Leclair, a nasty personality, a powerfully imaginative composer and violinist, and the matinee idol of the mid-eighteenth century, would never think of leaving Paris for “savage” lands. In fact, the greatest composers traveled from cosmopolitan center to center, beguiling audiences and riding the crest of a new wave of music as a public event. Far-off lands enticed high-profile baroque composers such as François Couperin and Jean-Phillipe Rameau, who created works alluding to these magical places for Parisian audiences. To frame this program, Leclair offers this postcard from . . . home.
Domenico Zipoli (1688–1726)
Suite in G Minor
While a high-level musical discourse characterized the encounters of Europeans with China in the eighteenth century (see Pedrini, below), the situation in South America was far less balanced. There, musical conversion was pursued aggressively as European composers and performers utilized baroque and late renaissance music to beguile the indigenous ear and convince it of a greater good. The God they brought with them, and the music to praise him, arrived at the cost of suffering and loss. Missionary composers seduced indigenous traditions through usurpation, in a process that paralleled Spanish military dismantling of coherent, but insufficiently powerful, cities and states. While missionaries in China were often held under house arrest by the emperor, the Spaniards and Portuguese in effect imprisoned the entire continent of South America.
Domenico Zipoli arrived in a South America that was already spotted with foreign institutions put in place to create a New Spain or New Portugal in a very different world. New World missionaries, including composer-priests, endured harsh lives, suffering from diseases and working in a humid heat that easily wilted the Catholic spirit. Zipoli had honed his skills with the greatest composers of late seventeenth-century Italy (including Scarlatti and Gasparini), and he had worked and published in Rome. After arriving in the New World, he worked as a musician and priest and attended the university in Cordoba, Argentina. He died tragically at the age of thirty-eight just before ordination.
The music performed for this concert comes from his Italian years, before he could develop any of the techniques designed in the Americas to attract local followers. For those effects, listen to the syncopations in Toca la flauto and the beguiling ancient and haunting melodic qualities in the Virgin’s lament Dividido. Notice in these works how the missionary composers used local musical language to seduce and convert the native populations of Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and Columbia.
Anonymous (New Mexican missions, 18th century)
Dividido el Corazon
Her heart divided, Mary weeps inconsolably.
She spent the night contemplating Jesus’ death.
“Ah, my son, light of my eyes, they are going to sentence you!”
He was nailed to the cross, He who wanted to save mankind.
Where have you gone, my light, where, delight of my life,
where are you, my beloved, where are you, sweet Jesus?
Weep, all creatures, with me, the pain I am suffering for losing my son, I now find again.”
Alonso Torices (ca. 1671)
Toca la Flauta
The anonymous lyrics say:
Play the flute, Miz’ Francisca, play the fiddle
‘cause I’m dying of laughter there’s big news—
and your grace ought to follow ‘cause a little baby God is born in Bet’lem
play it! (play the fiddle, play the fiddle)
I just want to quiet this mule. Go! Go!
Beat the tambourine; sing that song.
Play it, Cousin Francisca, oh what a sight! (husi-a husi-é!)
So all the black folks go husi-a husi-é to make that little child happy,
and we’ll bring him a thousand little things (husi-é)
and we’ll sing to his glory (husi-a husi-é!)
Ay ay ay! Que le le le! And we’ll dance to the sound of the zambacate!
Verses: We’re leaving from Guinea (zambacate)
‘cause he’ll heal our people (zambacate)
and we’re coming to find him (zambacate)
‘cause we’re not at all well.
Ay ay ay! Que le le le.
And we’ll dance to the sound of the zambacate!
Domenico Zipoli (1688–1726)
Cantata: O Daliso, da quell di che partisti
Recitative: Oh Daliso, from the day you parted from your faithful Irene, in cruel bitter pains, she longs for the charming eyes of his handsome face, giving vent to her torments, to the springs, the woods, the fields, the air, and the wind.
Air: Clear sky, for pity sake, teach Irene to sigh. Springs, rivers, show my eyes a new way to weep.
Recitative: Zephyrs and springs, only you can tell my beloved of my fierce torments, now that he has left me. And if he, the cruel one, does not believe it, and comes back to her who he has left, say this.
Air: Listen, my dearest, do you know what that graceful zephyr is? It is a sigh from your beloved. See, my dearest, do you not know what that pretty brook is? It is the tears of Irene.
Raynor Taylor (1747–1825)
Sonata for Cello in A Major
Benjamin Carr (1768–1831)
The musical experience in colonial North America was quite different from that in the South. Here, the arrival of the shunned, the fortune hunter, and the emissary of the crown populated new cities that craved the luxuries and social institutions of London and Paris. They admired the educational institutions of Cambridge and Oxford and the style and grace of Bath and Versailles. Portraits were painted in which the frontier daughter appeared in the most fashionable styles of London. Among the artists, actors, and musicians who came to America were those who were determined to create a domestic product to compete with those of England.
There was success to be had, and Philadelphia (along with Charleston, where even Pachelbel’s son ventured to make his way) quickly became a center of music and theater. Ballad operas were at first imported and later written for the new city’s merchant and governing classes, while collections of chamber music, piano solos, and songs and instruction books were printed to fill the living rooms with polite entertainment. An enterprising daughter could identify with any Jane Austen heroine, sitting at the piano, singing, or playing variations on Scot tunes, with the entire family planning on attending a public concert later that evening.
As a choirboy, composer Raynor Taylor performed at the funeral of Handel. Benjamin Carr, considered the father of Philadelphia’s musical life, may have been the first composer here to set Shakespeare to music. He arrived in New York with a theater troupe after studying with Charles Wesley and Samuel Arnold in London. His simple and touching love songs, all rooted in Scottish folk music (the rage in London), understood and catered to American musical tastes. His contrafactum on the pifa from the Messiah of Handel underscores the longing looks to London that did not end with the American Revolution.
Theodorico Pedrini (1671–1746)
Sonata IX in G Major
Fascination and respect toward China has a thousand-year history. Writings about life at court in Beijing show a desire to enter into a cultural conversation. Chinese society was too rich, complex, ancient, self-aware, and filled with achievement and power to inspire anything but awe. In the late sixteenth century, Matteo Ricci, the first Jesuit to live on mainland China, found enough concordances between Confucian thought and Christianity to convert some Chinese intellectuals to Catholicism. He spoke of the two religions as paired and coherent. This ultimately caused consternation in Rome, but it nevertheless established an attitude of observation and conversation, paired with a respect for intellectual acuity, that was attractive.
The missionary Teodorico Pedrini engaged in conversations about music through his position as teacher to the emperor’s children. His respect for the society around him allowed for a dialogue of colleagues. Imagine, listening to the finest of Chinese court musicians playing on pipa (lute) and qin (zither), followed by a sonata in the style of Corelli (which Pedrini followed) played by princes, the children of the emperor, in Beijing.
He [Emperor Kangxi] also used to write music notes, and let me review, giving me his own pen, he made me write on his desk, and we often played together the same harpsichord, each with one hand.
- Pedrini’s letter of 1727
Not all reactions to Western music were so positive, as two responses from the Chinese side confirm.
The concert began, and those priests who knew how played the clavecin, flute, bass viol, violin, and bassoon. These instruments created so much discord that the emperor, after hearing the opening bars, put his hands to his ears, crying loudly, “Enough, enough . . . the truth is, I am not accustomed to out-of tune concerts.”
Your music was not made for our ears, nor our ears for your music . . . so it is not surprising that its beauty cannot move us as does that of our own music . . . which goes from the ear to the heart, and from there to the very soul. This we understand and feel; but the music you play does not have this same effect on us. Our ancient music was entirely different . . . one simply listened and was overwhelmed.
─ Notes by Andrew Appel
Four Nations Ensemble
Founded in 1986, the Four Nations Ensemble brings together soloists who are exponents of period instrument and vocal performance to present music from the Renaissance through the Viennese classical masterpieces of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. With a core ensemble of four, the ensemble explores and performs the masterpieces of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, from trio sonatas to piano trios and quartets. Four Nations has performed at the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center and has participated in the Boston Early Music Festival, New York’s Mostly Mozart, the Amherst Festival, New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas, Virginia Waterfront International Arts Festival, Chautauqua, the Indiana Early Music Festival, the Redwoods Festival in Santa Rosa (California), Brasilseguridade (Rio de Janeiro), and the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival in Canada.
Highlights include a major appearance at the Boston Early Music Festival and Exhibition; the release of six CDs to remarkable press notices; and the development of special programs for the 92nd Street Y. Four Nations' interest in the interrelationship of music, art, and literature has led to performances for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Center for British Art at Yale University, and the Bard Graduate Center. Considered leading exponents of original instruments, the Four Nations Ensemble often appears on series presented by galleries and historical music societies, including the Smithsonian and the Midwest Historical Keyboard Society. The Ensemble’s most recent performance at the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments included music by Couperin, Rameau, Debussy, and Duparc on that collection’s own instruments. In recognition of its dedication to unusual repertoire, Four Nations served as ensemble-in-residence at the New York Public Library’s Special Collections at Lincoln Center. Four Nations’ arts-in-education programs highlight the ensemble’s commitment to bringing the joy of chamber music to diverse audiences of all ages.
The Four Nations Ensemble records for London-based ASV/Gaudeamus with which the complete trios of Johann Schobert have been released. Soprano Christine Brandes joined the Ensemble for Handel and Porpora: The Rivals, initiating the “Handel Compar’d” project. Countertenor Matthew White joined Four Nations for the second Handel Compar’d recording, Handel and Vivaldi. Haydn: The Battle of the Nile. Sonatas and cantatas by Antonio Caldara were released on ASV/Gaudeamus with mezzo-soprano Jennifer Lane. Four Nations’ other recent recording projects feature works by Jean-Marie Leclair and a continuation of its Haydn exploration. The Four Nations Ensemble has also recorded frequently for National Public Radio.
Rosa Lamoreaux, soprano
Soprano Rosa Lamoreaux is known for her “flawless sense of style, incandescent presence, a wonderfully rich timbre and an amazingly flexible voice” (Washington Post). After winning the Handel Aria Competition at the Aspen Music Festival as a finalist in the Oratorio Society Competition of New York, she has been a soloist with the Dallas Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, and the National Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. She has won critical acclaim for her performances at Bach festivals in the United States and abroad, performing in such distinguished venues as Carnegie Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Royal Albert Hall in London for the BBC Proms, Usher Hall in Edinburgh, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and the Kennedy Center. She has been a soloist in the Masses, Passions and nearly all the Cantatas of J. S. Bach, as well as the Vespers, Masses, and Oratorios of Monteverdi, Mozart, Handel, and Haydn.
Operatic roles include Romilda in Xerxes, Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare, and Galatea in Acis and Galatea of Handel; Belinda and Dido in Dido and Aeneas of Purcell; Venus in Didone of Cavalli; Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and Despina in Cosi fan tutte of Mozart.
Lamoreaux was named artistic director of the National Gallery of Art Vocal Ensemble, designing and performing concerts for specific exhibitions at the museum. She is a frequent soloist with the Folger Consort, MusicaAperta, ArcoVoce, and Hesperus, and she has toured with Musicians from Marlboro. Her many recitals include performances at the Library of Congress, Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Chautauqua Institute, in addition to European performances at the Amalfi Coast Music Festival, Reingau Music Festival, La Fenice Chamber Music Festival, the Scandinavian Music Festival, the Louvre, and the Belvedere Schloss.
Her recordings include repertoire from Shostakovich and Handel to Berlioz, Bach, Hildegard, Piaf, and the bawdy songs of Thomas D’Urfey.
This podcast was coordinated by Michael Wilpers, public programs manager. It was made possible through support from the Thaw Charitable Trust. Audio preservation and editing of this recording were supported by funds from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.
Thanks to Andy Finch for audio recording, SuMo Productions for audio editing, , Nancy Eickel for text editing, Torie Castiello Ketcham for web design, and especially the artists for permission to present this performance as a podcast.
The Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series was established in memory of Dr. Eugene Meyer III and Mary Adelaide Bradley Meyer. It is generously supported by Elizabeth E. Meyer, Melissa and E. Bradley Meyer, the New York Community Trust—The Island Fund, the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series Endowment, and additional individuals and organizations.