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26.7.04

Manchester: Baroque Music Conference (Part 4)

This is a continuation of Ionarts coverage of the Eleventh Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music in Manchester, England. Here are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Jean-Paul C. Montagnier, Charles-Hubert Gervais: Un musicien au service du Régent et de Louis XV, 1671–1744, 2001I was finally able to meet Jean-Paul Montagnier, whose book on Charles-Hubert Gervais (Charles-Hubert Gervais: Un musicien au service du Régent et de Louis XV, 1671–1744, shown here) I reviewed for Music & Letters in 2003. He gave a paper on the extension of the cadential 6/4 chord in the French grand motet, relating it to theoretical examples from Rameau and other theorists. In his examples, the 6/4 chord is extended in thirds to a very dissonant chord that resolves to the dominant chord. Rather than being tempted to "correct" such a structure, he demonstrated that composers were encouraged to use this type of harmony by misreading theoretical treatises of the time. After his paper, we spoke about his book on Gervais and a part of my review with which he disagreed (on the question of what happened to the concept of the proper liturgical texts in the Chapelle Royale in France).

Catherine Gordon-Seifert gave a paper about erotic symbols in French Baroque airs (abstract). Using examples from treatises on love and morality from the 17th century (like Albert Flamen's Devises et emblèmes d'Amour moralisez, 1653, Otto Van Veen's Amorum emblemata figuris, 1608, and the famous "Carte de Tendre" from Madeleine de Scudéry's novel Clélie, 1654), she showed how phrases from 17th-century airs de cour—best represented in the works of Michel Lambert—were part of the salon culture of the précieuses, with their evocation of attraction and seduction.

John Powell gave a paper on Lully's ballet Psyché (1670), the critical edition of which he has prepared for the Lully complete works (from Georg Olms Verlag in Hildesheim). This ballet was the last collaboration between Lully and Molière, and it was produced originally for the lavish salle des machines in the now-destroyed Palais des Tuileries (see post on February 16). The list of collaborators also included playwrights Philippe Quinault (who became Lully's librettist) and Pierre Corneille, leading Voltaire to write in the 18th century of this work that only Racine was missing from the list of great dramatic authors of the period. John S. Powell, Music and Theatre in France, 1600–1680What John traced was the way that the work was transformed, after its initial Parisian performances, when it was taken on the road and performed in unusual venues in Chantilly (where, in a famous story, a chef named Vatel threw himself on his sword after messing up the king's dinner) and in the king's newly acquired fortresses at Doncheri and Dunkerque, in lands that were taken from the Netherlands. When the troupe returned to Paris, a reduced version was performed in Molière's theater in the Palais-Royal. Lully and Quinault later made an operatic version of the same story in 1678. I also reviewed John's excellent book (Music and Theatre in France, 1600–1680), for Music & Letters in 2001. John has an excellent Web site on Music and Theater in 17th-Century France.

Go to Part 5.

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