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April 16, 2010

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Baroque music as it really sounded

A distinguished French early-music ensemble will perform Baroque masterpieces on authentic instruments in June at Shanghai Concert Hall - making music much as it sounded at the court of Versailles. Nie Xin reports.

Le Concert Spirituel, a French early-music ensemble renowned for authoritative interpretations of Baroque music on period instruments, will perform Handel and Charpentier at the Shanghai Concert Hall on June 21.

The original ensemble once performed in the French court at Versailles. In Shanghai, under the baton of Herve Niquet, the 80 musicians will perform movements from "Te Deum" and "Marches for Trumpets" by Charpentier (1645-1704), which evoke the splendor of Versailles, followed by Handel's "Water Music" (1717) and "Music for the Royal Fireworks" (1749).

It will be the ensemble's first appearance in China, and afterward it proceeds to performances in Paris, northern France and Istanbul, Turkey.

The ensemble, founded in the 18th century, performs with period instruments, including harpsichord, contrabassoons, period horns and trumpets. Some violinists use snakewood bows.

"For this occasion, I have chosen to play Handel, possibly the composer who can best represents Europe, and also Charpentier, a composer I greatly admire and have been supporting for more than 20 years," Niquet said at a press conference in Shanghai last week.

Le Concert Spirituel was disbanded during the French Revolution in 1789, but later revived.

In 1987 Niquet founded his specialized ensemble of early instruments, reviving the repertoire played at the court of Versailles.

The ensemble has performed worldwide, received numerous awards and around 50 recordings.

"I am proud to have assembled an orchestra of keen musicians who interpret music, make instruments and conduct historical research," says Niquet,

Constant research has led to important discoveries in interpretation and the sound of period instruments, he says.

"I am delighted we are able to bring the uniquely identifiable 'sound' of Le Concert Spirituel to audiences in China," he adds.

Niquet, a student of Marguerite Long and Maurice Ravel, was trained in the harpsichord, organ, piano, as well as vocal music, and conducting orchestras and choruses.

He approaches musicianship as a researcher, returning to the original source of both music and instruments to discover an authentic sound and avoid conventional treatment of Baroque music.

Niquet has worked as vocal director at the Paris Opera with Rudolf Nureyev and Serge Lifar, again seeking original interpretation of oral tradition.

The concert is part of the Festival Croisements 2010.

"The performance is at times filled with festive joy and at times full of surprises. It represents very well Louis XIV's flamboyant Versailles style, a symbol of the luxurious side of the Baroque era," says Niquet.

Date: June 21, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Concert Hall, 523 Yan'an Rd E.

Tickets: 50-300 yuan

Inquiry tel: 6386-2836

Check or for ticket details.


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