Guided By Voices: New Music for Baroque Cello
Two Baroque instruments are used in this project, the four-string and five-string cello, each with a sound and character which strongly contrast with the modern cello – and which have inspired some of today’s outstanding composers to explore their unique qualities. Begun in 2014 with a work for the five-string Baroque cello by Scott Edward Godin, the program also features Canadian composers Linda Catlin Smith, Isaiah Ceccarelli, and Maxime McKinley. Works by the Japanese-American composer Ken Ueno and Swedish-German composer Lisa Streich complete the program.
When composers write a new piece for “Baroque” cello it becomes an instrument of today, not only past eras, helping to expand the sound worlds of both the cello and new music audiences. Each work reveals the cello’s incredible versatility and remarkable colours.
Scott Edward Godin (b. 1970) - Guided By Voices (2014-15)
Lisa Streich (b. 1985) - Minerva (2018)
Linda Catlin Smith (b. 1956) - Ricercar (2015)
Isaiah Ceccarelli (b. 1978) - With concord of sweet sounds (2015)
Maxime McKinley (b. 1979) - Cortile di Pilato (2017)
Ken Ueno (b. 1970) - Chimera (excerpts) (2017)
Bach Cello Suites
At the heart of the repertoire of nearly all cellists, Bach's cello suites are among the most appreciated works of music lovers around the world. The suites highlight how Bach is particularly adept at mixing particular characteristics of the cello. For example, because of its unique range, from the low bass to the soprano, the cello is able to create the illusion of multiple voices, a polyphony inspired by the use of Bach's harmony and melody, wonderful techniques that intrigue the ear at every moment. The suites were probably composed around 1720 when Bach lived in Cöthen in the service of Prince Leopold, when he composed much secular and instrumental music, including works for solo violin and the famous Brandenburg concertos. For this concert, the main source is the manuscript copy of Anna Magdalena Bach, as no Bach autographs survive. The sixth suite requires an entirely different cello, as Bach specified a five-string instrument in the manuscript. The fifth string, a higher string tuned to e, allows the cello to extend the scope of the music in a joyful and captivating higher register.
Suites 1-6 in 2 concerts
Suites 2, 3, 6, concert 1
Suites 1, 4, 5, concert 2
The Cello According to Dall’Abaco
Son of a famous composer from Verona, Giuseppe Dall’Abaco learned to play the cello as a young boy growing up in Munich, Germany at about the same time that Bach wrote his famous cello suites. A few years later, in 1729, Dall’Abaco found his first employment as a cellist, in Bonn at the court of the Elector of Cologne, and began a fascinating musical career that led him to prominence in London, Paris, Vienna, and other European musical centres. As we begin to perform more of Dall’Abaco’s music in today’s concert halls, we not only restore his compositional voice but bring into our lives cello music that remains fresh, audacious, alluring, and often utterly beautiful.
3 Sonatas & 3 Caprices by Dall’Abaco
A Cello in Italy
For 10 years, cellist Elinor Frey has been searching for the most beautiful Baroque cello music from Italy, the country where cello music first appeared. They perform various sonatas, from the famous Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi to the little-known music for the early cello by Giuseppe Maria Dall'Abaco (1710-1805) and Antonio Vandini (1690-1778), both cellists famous in their time, but now nearly forgotten. We will also a solo harpsichord work by Carlo Monza, a composer born in Milan in the second part of the seventeenth century whose music reveals a clear commingling between the Italian and French styles. The duo also performs Montréal composer Maxime McKinley’s “Cortile di Pilato,” inspired by the Basilica of Santo Stefano in Bologna, a complex of four churches built on a foundation begun in the fifth century. An inner courtyard called “Cortile di Pilato” situated between the four buildings allows for the contemplation of a magnificent wall full of captivating mosaics.
Fiorè centers on a unique, anonymous collection of music featuring the cello, held in a small archive in Como, Italy. This manuscript may contain music that ranks among the first works that feature the cello. The sonatas, brilliant and lyrical, are likely written by the Milanese cellist A.M. Fiorè while the anonymous arias weave expressive cello lines with beautiful sung texts, each musing on longing, torment, sorrow, and idealized love. The program draws upon the passion for research and commitment to exploration of the musicians.
La voce del violoncello
La Voce del Violoncello offers a journey though the curious inventions of the first great cellist-composers of Italy. In the Baroque era, Italian cellist-composers contributed some of the most original and celebrated Baroque works for the instrument. Dall’Abaco, Supriani, Vitali, Gabrielli, Ruvo, Colombi, and Galli have each written cello music that is charming, sumptuous, and captivating. La Voce del Violoncello, uniquely reveals the breadth of solo cello works from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and is an important contribution to understanding the origins of unaccompanied cello music from before and during the time of Bach when Italians also wrote remarkable solo cello works. This program is the result of research and performances that have grown out of the support of grants from the US-Italy Fulbright Fellowship Program, The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Concertos with Violoncello Piccolo
This concert is dedicated to concertos for the violoncello piccolo, which, as the name implies, is a smaller version of the cello, usually with five strings (the extra string is higher) tuned C-G-D-A-E, or an even-smaller four-string version, tuned G-D-A-E. The smaller sizes of these cello and their varied tuning allows the cellist to play virtuosic music that generally sits at a higher range. For the concertos by Antonio Vivaldi (G Major, RV 414) and Leonardo Leo (D Major), I will use a five-string instrument commissioned in 2012 from Canadian luthier, Francis Beaulieu. The second type of violoncello piccolo that I will use is an original made in Germany in 1770. As it has the same tuning as the violin, but an octave lower, it is the instrument intended for G.B. Sammartini’s C Major concerto, the manuscript of which states that the solo part is to be played by “violin OR violoncello piccolo.” This four-string instrument also perfectly suits the Tartini concerto in A minor. By bringing these Baroque Italian cello concertos together, those by Vivaldi, Leo, Sammartini, and Tartini, we explore the unique and captivating sound world of the violoncello piccolo.
Boccherini Cello Concertos
Chez Diable: Le violoncelle de Boccherini
LUIGI BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)
Concerto for Cello and Strings No. 3 in G Major, G. 480 (17min) (strings, solo cello)
Sinfonia Op. 12, N°4 In D Minor, G. 506 “La Casa del Diavolo” 25 min (strings, 2 horns, 2 oboes)
Concerto for Cello, 2 Horns and Strings No. 9 in B-Flat Major, G. 482: (19min) (strings, solo cello)