An intimate performance of three French Cantatas inspired by the fates of mythological lovers is being presented this weekend only.
Report by Pauline Adamek
Musica Angelica presents “Cantates FranÃ§aises” at two locations:
Saturday, APRIL 16 at 8 p.m. at Neighborhood Church in Pasadena
Sunday, APRIL 17 at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica
American Soprano Ellen Hargis, acclaimed as “a national musical treasure” by Continuo, will appear as guest artist with members of Musica Angelica. Hargis will bring to vivid life three French cantatas from the early 18th century – Pan et Syrinx by Michel Pignolet de MontÃ©clair; OrphÃ©e by Jean-Phillipe Rameau; and Leandre et Hero by Louis-Nicolas ClÃ©rambault – when Musica Angelica Chamber Music Series presents “Cantates Francaises” on Saturday, April 16 at 8 p.m. at Neighborhood Church in Pasadena and Sunday, April 17 at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica.
In the MontÃ©clair cantata, Pan pursues an unwilling Syrinx. Â She is saved from his advances by the chaste goddess Diana, who turns Syrinx into a reed. Â Pan’s sighs of unrequited love become musical when the reed sounds to his laments, producing a beautifully evocative imitation of the reed as a Panpipe.
Rameau’s OrphÃ©e tells the story of Orpheus and Euridice’s exit from Hades. Â Having won Euridice”™s freedom from the underworld with his song, Orpheus must now obey the rule that he may not look back as they depart. Â Of course, he cannot contain his curiosity, and loses Euridice a second and final time.
ClÃ©rambault”™s version of the tragic story of Hero and Leandre is told by the heroine and a narrator. Â Hero sighs for the arrival of her lover, who swims the Hellespont nightly to meet with her against the wishes of her parents. Â On this night, a sudden storm blows in, and drowns the faithful Leandre. Â Hero greets the dawn with her ardent song, only to discover her lover dead on the shore.
“Ellen has appeared with the most renowned ensembles and conductors in the Early Music field,” stated Musica Angelica”™s managing director Laura Spino. “We are thrilled to present this exceptional artist with members of Musica Angelica in two evenings of some of the most intimately beautiful French music written.”
Ms. Hargis offers further details about the program:Â “Unlike its German and Italian counterparts, the French cantata was “˜invented”™ in 1706 by the poet Jean-Baptiste Rousseau,” explains the Grammy nominated soprano.Â “It was soon taken up by many famous composers of the day, including MontÃ©clair, ClÃ©rambault and Rameau, whose works we”™ll be performing.”
“All three of the cantatas deal with fatal attractions,” she continues.Â In the MontÃ©clair cantata, the goddess Diana saves Syrinx from Pan”™s pursuit by turning her into a reed.Â Pan”™s sighs of unrequited love become musical when the reed sounds to his laments, producing a beautifully evocative imitation of the reed as a Panpipe.”
“Rameau’s OrphÃ©e, having won Euridice”™s freedom from the underworld with his song, loses her a second and final time by looking back at his beloved as they depart Hades.”
“ClÃ©rambault”™s Hero waits on the shore for her secret lover Leandre to swim across the Hellespont to be with her, only to find him at dawn swept upon the shore, lifeless, a victim of the evening”™s storm.”
Members of Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra will join Ellen Hargis.
They are: Janet Strass, violin; Debra Nagy, oboe; William Skeen, cello; and Ian Pritchard, harpsichord.
Tickets for “Cantates FranÃ§aises” are available for $39.00, general admission.
Students who provide a student I.D. or other proof of status may purchase tickets for $15.oo
For more information or to order tickets, call 310.458.4504 or visit the official site.
Pasadena Neighborhood Church is located at 301 North Orange Grove Blvd. in Pasadena, 91103; First Presbyterian Church is located at 1220 Second Street in Santa Monica, 90402.
ABOUT SOPRANO ELLEN HARGIS
The American soprano, Ellen Hargis, acclaimed as “a national musical treasure” by Continuo, has built a remarkable career specializing in 17th- and 18th-century music, ranging from ballads to opera and oratorio.Â She brings her “infinitely expressive soprano” (New York Newsday) to concerts throughout the world, appearing with many of the most renowned ensembles and conductors in the Early Music field.
Ms. Hargis received critical acclaim for her performances with The New York Collegium the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Andrew Parrott, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, the Kennedy Center performing with Norman Scribner and the Washington Choral Arts Society, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ under Daniel Harding, the inaugural season of Festival Vancouver in Monteverdi’s Orfeo and the American Bach Soloists at the Berkeley Festival, and many other of the world’s leading festivals including the Adelaide Festival in Australia, Utrecht Festival (Holland), Resonanzen Festival (Vienna), Tanglewood and the New Music America Festival.
Frequently heard on radio broadcasts and recordings, Ellen Hargis is often featured on Christmas and Valentines Day broadcasts of MPR’s St. Paul Sunday. Her rapidly growing discography embraces repertoire from medieval to contemporary music. Recent releases include Dowland’s Seaven Teares with Paul O’Dette and The King’s Noyse and Missa Mexicana with The Harp Consort. Both have received outstanding international acclaim. Of her other recordings, A Candle in the Dark with The Newberry Consort was named “Choc du Monde” in Le Monde de la Musique. She is featured on a dozen addition Harmonia Mundi recordings including a critically acclaimed solo recital disc of music by Jacopo Peri with Paul O’Dette and Andrew Lawrence-King, and Arvo PÃ¤rt’s Berlin Mass with Theatre of Voices. She also appears on a recording of G.F. Handel solo cantatas with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra on Wild Boar, several recordings for BMG Classics, Vanguard Classics, Virgin Classics, Erato, Dorian Classics and Berlin Classics. Her recording of Tristan et Iseult with The Boston Camerata was winner of the Grand Prix du Disque in 1989.”¨”¨Ellen Hargis makes her home in Chicago. She is on the vocal faculty of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and teaches numerous summer courses in early music, including the Longy International Baroque Institute in Cambridge, The Lute Society of America Seminars and the Vancouver Baroque Vocal Programme.
ABOUT MUSICA ANGELICA
Founded in 1993, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra is dedicated to the authentic performance of Baroque music exclusively using 18th Century period instruments and performance practices.Â The ensemble’s mission includes the presentation of masterworks of great composers, such as Bach, Vivaldi and HÃ¤ndel, as well as the introduction to exquisite compositions by lesser known Baroque composers.Â Guest conductors include Baroque luminaries such as Rinaldo Alessandrini, Giovanni Antonini, Harry Bicket, Paul Goodwin, Nicholas Kraemer, Rachel Podger and Martin HaselbÃ¶ck, who became the ensemble”™s Music Director beginning with the 2005/2006 season.Â In addition to presenting its own orchestral and chamber music series, Musica Angelica collaborates with leading performing arts institutions in Southern California, including the Los Angeles Opera, Long Beach Opera, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Pacific Chorale, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Norton Simon Museum.
Baroque music is the foundation of classical music as we know it, and its performance is predominant in the formats of public and commercial classical music radio stations today.Â With resurging interest in the performance of Baroque music on period instruments, Musica Angelica has become the leading ensemble for the performance of this rich repertoire in the Los Angeles region and is very likely the only such ensemble that maintains a full concert season in the area.
In April 2010, Musica Angelica presented its first Baroque Workshop and Festival in collaboration with the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music with generous underwriting from the Edmund D. Edelman Foundation for Music and the Performing Arts.Â The concerts and master classes were designed to expand interest and skill in Baroque style and technique among professional modern string players as well as university music students in the region.Â Four world-renowned master teachers worked with 18 students during the four day event, which culminated in a “Sunday”™s Live” performance at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
In March 2007, Musica Angelica embarked on is first international tour, which was distinguished by sold-out performances and wide critical acclaim.Â The tour offered a unique collaboration between two orchestras from different continents – Musica Angelica, and Martin HaselbÃ¶ck”™s Austrian orchestra, Wiener Akademie.Â Together, they presented 13 performances of Bach”™s monumental St. Matthew Passion in Mexico, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Italy, Germany and the U.S.Â In September 2010, Musica Angelica traveled to South America for an equally successful nine-concert tour starting in Brazil, traveling through Uruguay and Chile, and culminating with two performances at the renowned Teatro Cologne in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Musica Angelica”™s visionary Music Director, Martin HaselbÃ¶ck, loves to surprise audiences by combining traditional Baroque music with avant-garde multi-media.Â One of his creations, “The Infernal Comedy” starring John Malkovich, was premiered by Musica Angelica in Santa Monica and enjoyed 23 repeat performances throughout Europe.Â A new collaboration with Malkovich, “Casanova,” will premiere in 2011 and Musica Angelica will participate in a multi-city US tour in the fall.
Musica Angelica raised its profile with a contract for four CD recordings on the German-based New Classical Adventure (NCA) label.Â The first, HÃ¤ndel”™s opera Acis and Galatea, was released in 2007; the second in 2008 features the principal players of the orchestra as soloists in concertos by Telemann; a trio of Bach Cantatas was released in Fall 2009, and the most recent CD features principal oboist Gonzalo Ruiz with soprano Robin Johanssen, keyboardist Jeremy Joseph in chamber works of Bach, Telemann and Herzel.