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31.1.06

Crazy Baroque Days in Nantes

The Folle Journée de Nantes is an annual January music festival in the Breton city, which has been happening for ten years or so. It is now actually five "crazy days," scheduled this year for January 25 to 29. In the 2006 edition, the focus was on Baroque music, especially the works of Bach, Vivaldi, Händel, and Rameau. The purpose of choosing those great masters was to create a program that would also emphasize the unity of the European nations. An article by Jean-Louis Validire (Nantes s'emballe pour le baroque, January 24) for Le Figaro had a preview (my translation):

"I was convinced that there was a broader audience for classical music," recalls the festival's creator, René Martin, who is also responsible for the piano festival in La Roque d'Anthéron. The 2005 festival, «Beethoven et ses amis», drew 111,604 spectators for 235 concerts that sold about 90% of available tickets. This year more than 120,000 tickets have been prepared, as the way to hear this music just before that Mozart person everyone is celebrating. Two composers were chosen for each of the six countries represented. In no particular order, Telemann and J. S. Bach will represent Germany, Händel and Purcell will be the Englishmen, Couperin and Rameau the Frenchmen, Scarlatti and Vivaldi the Italians. Francisco Antonio de Almeida and Carlos Seixas will represent Portugal. This arbitrary choice excludes, for better or worse, some important names. Marin Marais, who is programmed on only one concert, is one of the forgotten ones, even though we are about to celebrate his 400th birthday.
Fabio Biondi was the biggest name I recognized on the program. That's a good thing to know about Marin Marais, whose music I heard recently at Dumbarton Oaks from gamba player Paolo Pandolfo.

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