11-19 May 2018
Guest Artistic Director – Sébastien Daucé
St John’s Smith Square / Westminster Abbey / St Peter’s Eaton Square / St George’s Hanover Square / St George’s Bloomsbury / St Alfege Greenwich
Featuring: Le Poème Harmonique/Vincent Dumestre; Fuoco E Cenere; Le Concert de L’Hostel-Dieu and Ravi Prasad; The Bach Players; La Nuova Musica/David Bates, Iestyn Davies; Sophie Bevan and Rebecca Bottone; OAE Experience & RAM Baroque Ensemble; Choir of Westminster Abbey, St James’ Baroque/James O’Donnell; Duo Coloquintes; Lucile Richardot, Thibault Roussel; Ensemble Correspondances/Sébastien Daucé; Arnaud de Pasquale; Les Kapsbergirls; Doulce Mémoire/Denis Raisin Dadre; Capriccio Stravagente/Skip Sempé
Plus: Participation Workshop Building Harmonic Flutes; Emerging Artists concerts; talk introducing the French Baroque by Graham Sadler; talk on the life and music of Couperin by Thomas Leconte; Talk by Sébastien Daucé on Le Concert Royal de la Nuit; school outreach programme
On 15 January 2018 the London Festival of Baroque Music (formerly the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music) announced its programme for 2018. Under the leadership of Guest Artistic Director, Sébastien Daucé, the Festival crosses the Channel to concentrate on an immersive exploration of the music of the French Baroque - ‘Treasures of the Grand Siècle’.
This year there are 22 events over 9 days bringing together leading artists such as Le Poème Harmonique and Vincent Dumestre, La Nuova Musica with Iestyn Davies, Capriccio Stravagente with Skip Sempé, Doulce Mémoire and Dennis Rasin Dadre and Sébastien Daucé’s own group, Ensemble Correspondances.
Grand statements include Charpentier’s Te Deum in Westminster Abbey and the UK premiere of Le Concert Royal de la Nuit with Ensemble Correspondances, representing the event that saw Louis XIV emerge as the Sun King. There will be the birth of the French Baroque in Claude Le Jeune’s Le Printemps and the transition to the classical when Iestyn Davies takes the title role in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. Le Poème Harmonique explores the influence of the Orient on the French Court and the Festival features a collaboration between Indian classical musicians and French Baroque specialists in Paris-Madras. As is tradition, the Festival remains an important platform for emerging artists, both from France and the UK, and the Festival is delighted to have some of the most exceptional talent surfacing on the scene today.
Sébastien Daucé, Guest Artistic Director for the London Festival of Baroque Music 2018, said: “This is the music that accompanied the day-to-day life of the Palace of Versailles and saw the emergence of King Louis XIV as the Sun King. My hope for this year’s Festival is that the music ordered by royalty, exclusively for the 17th and 18th century courts, is enjoyed by all today. Enjoy a new perspective on this music – through the eyes and ears of the great musicians who will pay tribute to the masters and their beloved composers of the French Baroque, and take a look at the ideas that have influenced works, then and now, from other eras and cultures”.
The Festival opens on 11 May with “At the World’s Courts”, a concert from Le Poème Harmonique and Vincent Dumestre that looks at the influence of exoticism on French and European Music in the 17th century. The East held such appeal at the courts of Louis XIII and Louis XIV and this programme presents various parts of the Ballet des Nations from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme interspersed with works evoking Turkey, Arabia, China, Cambodia and the West Indies. Lully, as composer of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, plays a central role in this programme, but Cavalli and Moulinié represent other European voices.
Fuoco E Cenere’s concert programme on 12 May at 7.15pm was created in response to the popular BBC TV series Versailles (2016 - Canal) in which they participated. The music includes an attractive selection of vocal and instrumental music by Lully, Rameau and others that would have been performed at the palace of Versailles.
Also on 12 May at 9.30pm, Le Concert de L’Hostel-Dieu under Franck-Emmanuel Comte is joined by a number of celebrated musicians from the Indian classical tradition including Ravi Prasad for ‘Paris-Madras’, a concert that combines two cultures and two religions. Marking the death of Christ, François Couperin's three Tenebrae settings are based on a poetic and sombre text imbued with solitude. In North and South India, the night also has its musical homage, through the râga of darkness. This concert alternates Couperin’s music with a râga from the traditional Indian repertoire. The melismas of the bansuri flute will alternate with the two baroque sopranos, in a haunting and aerial dialogue. For the finale of this concert the two disparate groups of musicians will merge in a cross-cultural improvisation, uniting European and Indian classical traditions.
The London Festival of Baroque Music's annual visit to Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 15 May at 7pm honours Charpentier’s grand polyphonic motet Te Deum. It will be performed by The Choir of Westminster Abbey and St James's Baroque under James O'Donnell. The programme also includes works by Purcell (his own ‘Te Deum’ ‘The Bell Anthem’ and ‘Come ye Sons of Art’) as well as Charpentier’s ‘O Deus, O Salvator noster’.
Undoubtedly a highlight of the 2018 Festival will be Sébastien directing his own Ensemble Correspondances in the UK premiere of their realisation of Charpentier’s ‘Histoires sacrées’ (featuring the staging of Vincent Huguet) on 17 May at 730pm. These wonderfully inventive “sacred operas” (as Handel’s Oratorios would be) are interspersed with musical beauties, harrowing arias and magnificent chorales. Telling the stories of three biblical women (Judith, Cecilia and Mary Magdalene) the performance is supported by sets and costumes suggesting distant biblical lands.
A further musical theatre highlight of the Festival will be the LFBM debut of La Nuova Musica, directed by David Bates on Sunday 13 May at 7pm. Iestyn Davies MBE will be singing the title role in Orfeo ed Euridice by Gluck. He will be joined by Sophie Bevan in the tragic role of Euridice and the fiendish Amore will be played by Soprano Rebecca Bottone.
On 18 May at 730pm there is the rare opportunity to hear Doulce Mémoire and Denis Raisin Dadre in Le Printemps Le Jeune by Claude Lejeune (1530-1600). Le Printemps Le Jeune is a ground-breaking work which bridges the gap between renaissance and baroque style. It draws on mediaeval and renaissance idioms but updates this to create a vocal style that lays the foundations of the French baroque. When first performed, due to its modernity, it was rejected by the Parisian elite, who accused it of ‘corrupting, perverting, softening and enraging’ young people!
Duo Coloquintes will explore the legacy of Louis Couperin on 16 May at 945pm whilst the Mezzo-Soprano, Lucile Richardot, accompanied by Thibault Rousset (theorbo and guitar) and Mathilde Vialle (bass viol) assumes the role of Lully’s greatest operatic heroine, Marie le Rochois in her dramatic recital on 16 May at 715pm. Capriccio Stravagente and Skip Sempé explore music by Rameau, Fourqueray, Couperin and Marais in their concert on 18 May at 945pm whilst the harpsichordist Arnaud de Pasquale takes audiences through a series of hommages written by composers of the French Baroque to celebrate their colleagues on 17 May at 10pm.
Other concerts include an afternoon recital from harpsichordist Skip Sempé on 19 May at 3pm with the music of Louis Couperin; Les Kapsbergirls on 18 May at 1.05pm with court songs from 17th century France; an exciting collaboration between the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Experience Scheme and the Royal Academy of Music with music by Rameau and Couperin on 15 May at 1.05pm and The Bach Players on 13 May at 3pm with a programme that paints a musical picture of the chamber music presented to Louis XIV by his favourite composers.
The Festival culminates with Le Concert Royal de la Nuit a recreation of the music to the spectacular 1653 Ballet Royal de le Nuit. Originally over 13 hours of music and spectacle and commissioned by Cardinal Mazarin, this ballet saw the 15 year-old Louis XIV dance, dressed as the sun, thus cementing his position as ‘The Sun King’. Sébastien Daucé spent three years reconstructing the music from this huge piece, intelligently reworking incomplete sketches and interpolating some passages from Francesco Cavalli and others into a superb 2 hour performance. This UK premiere will be performed by Ensemble Correspondances under Sébastien Daucé.
Sébastien Daucé said: “As the French Royal Courts moves to London in May 2018, we hope you will join us to discover the treasures that we have in store for you.”