Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Mercoledi Musicale

I realize I have yet to say much about the music we heard at Salzburg last month. Its been a bit of a struggle to catch up with work which is involves writing most of the day and then to come home and continue writing. However I can safely say that the Liedmatinee on the Monday morning given by Joyce DiDonato was the musical highlight of the weekend.  And the highlight of her programme, devoted to Venice, were five of the six songs by Reynaldo Hahn under the title Venezia, chansons en dialecte vénitien

Back in May of 2012 I posted an item about that glorious little song cycle and videos featuring Anna Caterina Antonocchi sing five of them.  For some reason Miss DiDonato omitted La Biondina in gondoleta in her set while Anna Cat didn't give us La primavera.

Of the six the most delightful - and most often performed - is La barcheta (the Little Boat).  Rather than given preference to either lady - both of whom I treasure as artists - I thought I'd post a wonderful performance by the elegant French baritone Gérard Souzay

A translation of Pietro Buratti's text by Lara Sarti can be found here.

Hahn was a friend of Winnaretta Singer,  Princesse Edmond de Polignac.  The Princesse was one of the great patrons of the arts and humanities in early 20th century Europe.  It was on one of his visits to the Polignacs in Venice that Hahn composed his song cycle. The programme for the Salzburg recital included the composer's description of the premiere:
Madame de Béarn asked me to sing - just me and a piano - on the 'Piccoli Canale'.  Just a few gondolas - one or two friends hastily gathered together [..] I was in one boat, lit up for the occasion, with my piano and a couple of oarsmen.  The other gondolas were grouped around us.  We found a place where three canals met beneath three charming bridges and I sang all my Venetian songs.  Gradually passers-by gathered on the bridges: and audience of ordinary people, pressing forward to listen.  The Venetian songs surprised and delighted this little crowd, which made me very happy.  "Ancora, anocra", they called from above.  These songs that were both light and melancholy sounded well beneath the starry skies and I felt that emotion which reverberates in the composer's heart when it has truly been shared by those around him.
Reynaldo Hahn - without his piano - photographed in a Piccoli Canale much
like the one where he first performed his Venezia song cycle.
If I had money - that old familiar cry - I would love to recreate that moment: a singer, a few gondolas, one equipped with a piano and a small group of friends.   And on a magical night in a quiet canal listen to these "light and melancholy" melodies floating over the waters of one of the cities I love most in the world.   Well music was meant to make us dream!

July 2 - 1777: Vermont becomes the first American territory to abolish slavery.


David said...

Winaretta Singer - dyke, ya know. Must read a recent biography of this fascinating woman. And happy 75th birthday, Brigitte Fassbaender - I adore you. An unlikely friend recommended the paean to her in Terry Castle's The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture. My bedtime reading for tonight (or at least I can start it - it's a mighy long chapter).

Anonymous said...

How does one get a piano in a gondola I'd like to know?

The visual pictures I have of trying to do it are quite scary