The first half of the 18th century was a breathtakingly rich time. An apotheosis of the Baroque movement for some composers, it also sees the emergence of new styles and new sensibilities. In Potsdam, for example, Frederick II of Prussia brought together musicians who developed a “gallant” aesthetic, based on a certain simplicity of means, great harmonic clarity and an assumed concern for elegance; freed from the weight of certain ornamental devices considered pompous, the aim was clearer – less seriously mythological. Already, the coming Enlightenment is coming. Graun, Hasse and Porpora belong to this category of musicians and all worked not far from Potsdam. Active in the world of opera, they bring the Italian model to a point of incandescence. Leaving aside the large buildings of some of their predecessors, they prefer simple and clear forms, allowing immediate accessibility – a direct theatricality, nourished by their deep taste for virtuosity, their friendship for the spectacular.
More directly attached to the music of their recent past, and formidable synthetic minds, Handel and Telemann offer their listeners a denser, more compact music. Less flattering at first glance, it nevertheless reveals itself to be absolutely rich and highly mastered in writing. There is something for everyone – and “versatility” could well prove to be the key word of this evening in the colours of the emerging baroque.
Oeuvres de / C.H. Graun, G.F. Haendel, J.A. Hasse, N. Porpora, G.P. Telemann, A. Vivaldi