Johann Sebastian Bach’s celebrated Brandenburg Concertos, consisting of six concerti grossi, belong to the highlights of the Baroque era. Titled Concerts avec plusieurs instruments (Concertos with several instruments) they feature a wide spectrum of instruments in daring combinations. Each concerto sets a precedent in scoring and has since remained virtually without parallel. The collection was composed around 1720 in Köthen and dedicated to the Marquess Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg, younger brother of King Frederick I of Prussia. LES INVENTIONS have performed the complete Brandenburg Concerti, notably at the Dijon Auditorium in 2012 (recorded by the French classic channel France Musique).
Imagine a world without Bach cantatas. How impoverished our Western art music would be without these gems! When first published by the Bach Gesellschaft in the 19th century, no one lesser than Brahms would be first in queue at his music outlet in Vienna to grab a copy. In the last ten years, LES INVENTIONS have regularly performed sacred and secular cantatas from different periods of Bach’s life. Whether in residence at the Bach en Combrailles festival, or during the Dijon Opera Bach Fest, or as guests of the Lutry Bach Concert Series in Switzerland, our exploration of this crucial and outstanding repertoire is uninterrupted.
A Purcell Collection
It is said that Henry Purcell never set foot outside England. Not only was he well-versed in his native music tradition, but he was also perfectly informed on all that was foreign. Feeding on Italian and French models, he drew inspiration mainly from the courtly manner of Lully. The corpus of Purcell’s music is impressively diverse: anthems, odes, funeral music, semi-operas, masques, sonatas, consort-music, songs and catches populate his extraordinarily multifaceted œuvre. LES INVENTIONS and VOCES8 invite the listener, in concert and on disc, to a stroll through the astonishingly colourful world of one of the greatest Baroque composers.
The Venetian-born Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739) led a dual career as a famous aristocratic politician and prominent composer. In his masterpiece, the Estro poetico-armonico (1724-1727), a setting of the first fifty Psalms for voices, figured bass and various instrumental soloists, he drew inspiration directly on contemporary Jewish religious music. Marcello brought to these Psalms a remarkable quality of freshness and originality which contributed to their becoming a major international success. Translated in his time into French, German, Swedish, English and Russian, these settings were embraced by a variety of religious traditions, including Anglican, Lutheran and Jewish. Acclaimed British vocal group VOCES8 and LES INVENTIONS have recorded for the first time and regularly perform a selection of the Psalms in Charles Avison’s English version.
Since 2005, Patrick Ayrton and LES INVENTIONS explore uncharted 18th century repertoire, in particular composers from Burgundy, such as Jean-Baptiste Drouard de Bousset (1662-1725), Joseph Michel (1679-1736), Thomas-Louis Bourgeois (1676-1750) and Joseph Touchemoulin (1727-1801). In regular concerts, recordings, lectures and educational projects, LES INVENTIONS aim to shed light on some of France’s finest music from the Grand Siècle in Burgundy.
The violinist and composer Joseph Touchemoulin, one of the founders of the French Violin School and court composer to the Princes of Thurn und Taxis at Regensburg, was born on October 23rd 1727, at Chalon-sur-Saône, France. The Burgundian origins of this significant musician remained, however, overlooked until 2005 when Patrick Ayrton came by chance upon evidence which confirmed his birth at Chalon. Further fascinating discoveries led to the restoration of Touchemoulin, through concerts and educational projets, to his rightful place in France’s music history. But whilst Touchemoulin has the distinction of being the most important 18th century composer born in the département of Saône-et-Loire, his musical stature is of an international rather than merely local significance. As the French musicologist Gilles Cantagrel has aptly stated: “The elegant and charming music of this Burgundian (musician) gives us a foretaste of Mozart”.
Born in 1670 near Dijon, Joseph Michel was a chapel master at the old cathedral of St Stephen in Dijon and later a the Holy Chapel of the same city. He was considered in his time an exceptional musician and unhesitatingly compared to the celebrated court composer Delalande. Michel’s fame spread beyond his native province, reaching as far as Versailles where his Grand Motet Dominus Regnavit was regularly performed at the Chapel Royal until 1792. The important discovery, in 2010, of a manuscript of anthems and hymns by Michel for Vespers led to a major project by LES INVENTIONS in Dijon. The ensemble regularly includes in its programs excerpts from this splendid collection.
Heritage Days, Vézelay, France, 2013: La Cité de la Voix, a former Cistercian hospital converted into a cultural centre, hosts acclaimed American soprano Claron McFadden and LES INVENTIONS for a residency. Visitors are guided through halls, passages and crypts by “Apollo” (actor Gérôme Alban), with various events and happenings awaiting them in each part of the building. Staged by Emmanuelle Cordoliani, this musical promenade through a place and a history features works by Michel, Rameau et Bourgeois.
A Burgundian Christmas
Who nowadays has heard of Bernard de la Monnoye, aka Gui Barôzai ? He was nevertheless a famous figure of his time. A lawyer, poet, philologist and critic born at Dijon in 1641, he was principally known for his Noëls bourguignons. These candid and touching commentaries in song of episodes from The Nativity were immensely popular and on everyone’s lips, even as far as the Court of Versailles. LES INVENTIONS throw light on these celebrated Noëls published in 1700 in Burgundian dialect. Imaginative graciousness mixes with a naive patois in which satire blends with ever-inspiring cheerfulness. Humour and tenderness ornate a multidimensional performance featuring La Monnoye’s verses, dance and compositions by Burgundian masters such as Rameau, Balbastre and Touchemoulin.
“A real treat for eyes and ears”
Le Bien Public, Dijon.
“A divine performance”
Le Journal de Saône et Loire, Chalon-sur-Saône