Saturday, January 26, 2013

If It Ain't Baroque . . .

I followed a link on an overgrown path to Vox Seculorum, where I found a group of composers dedicated to keeping the practice of Baroque music alive by using the styles and techniques of the 17th and 18th centuries to write new music.

Much of what I heard and saw there (go explore, there are audio links and links to PDF files) was derivative, but what is Baroque music if it is not derivative? Within the vast forests of music written during the Baroque period in Europe by composers (here's today's IMSLP list) who enjoyed the spoils of the period, for better or for worse, we find codification everywhere: this sounds Italian, that sounds English, these sound Spanish, this must have French influence, although it was written by a German composer. Vivaldi, Handel, Telemann, Fasch, Couperin, Biber, Buxtehude, Lully, Marias, Rameau, both Scarlattis, both Marcellos, and J.S. Bach and his sons make their way to the top of the heap (or maybe the top of my heap), and all of them used materials and styles that they learned from other composers in their music.

Eventually all the composers on my list were thought of as old fashioned, and people stopped writing music that used devices like figured bass. I get the distinct impression that most musicians who lived during the Baroque Period knew how to realize a figured bass at sight. These days figured bass is relinquished to something you study in analysis classes, and people who do not specialize in playing harpsichord or playing with harpsichord have little facility with it.

I was impressed with the composers I found on the Vox Seculorum roster of members, particularly Hendrik Bouman (here's a piece he wrote for orchestra). It turns out that Bouman, who is from the Netherlands and now lives in Canada, was the original Harpsichordist of Musica Antique Köln. He has enjoyed the opportunity to spend his entire career as a Baroque musician without having to give up the conveniences of central heat, instruments that are built using technologies and materials that allow them to remain in tune, indoor plumbing, access to collections and histories, and modern methods of travel and communication. And he writes Baroque music that I can enjoy the same way I would enjoy music written by the composers who sit on the top of my Baroque heap (listed above).

I was also very impressed by Gianluca Bersanetti, an Italian composer who lives in Los Angeles, specializes in early childhood education, and writes music in his spare time.

(Here's the first movement, and the second movement.)

He has a few pieces in the IMSLP

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just came across your blog in a french google search - we lived in France.
I am glad you enjoyed Hendrik Bouman's baroque compositions. To date he has composed 120 pieces in the Baroque and Classic style.
You might enjoy listening to his works on the Music Box page on his newly upgraded site - the computer crashed the last version -
Kind regards,
his Anna