Festival de Música Antiga de Palma
Tunes and Mascarades
Music from the 17th Century England
van Eyck – anon. – Virtaperko – D. Purcell – Bull – Matteis – H. Purcell
Hanna Haapamäki, recorder
Jussi Seppänen, cello
Marianna Henriksson, harpsichord
In the last decades of the 17th century, the English had already become familiar with the two most important Baroque music styles; the Italian and the French. Especially the island’s own son, Henry Purcell (1659-95), whose production mixed different styles, was a big influence. So, when coming into the new century, England was quite receptive to the impressions from continental Europe.
The ”Grand Tours”, or the educational trips to European metropoles that upper class young men undertook, generated returnees who were fascinated by theatre, opera and concert life, and who warmly welcomed foreign virtuosos, singers and composers to enrich the cultural life of their hometown. Countless numbers of musicians and composers from Germany, Austria and France gathered in London. But the possibilities of the misty isles attracted especially Italian virtuosos, and the pleasure was surely mutual.
In the latter half of the 17th century, England had not yet experienced the arrival of the greatest musical fashion trend of the century. There was not yet any demand for Italian opera, because the original tradition of masque entertainment lived strong in the theatre-crazy country. Masque is a sort of snack comedy or simple amusement: carefree and easily-digested jingles, song, dance, and familiar archetype characters (like fictional creatures, drunkards and shepherds).
Theatre performances therefore often included music, but unlike in the opera tradition, the main characters would not sing. That honour was reserved for entertaining side characters, or for unconnected figures who would comment on the scenes or the ambience as narrators.
The program contains also two works by Olli Virtaperko: Fantazia (2012) is a four-minute piece for Baroque cello and harpsichord, written in a Renaissance spirit, and Fantasia ”Liberazione” (2018) is a solo work for harpsichord in the traditional 1/4 comma meantone temperament (from Eb to G#).