Infusion Baroque to Make Bay Area Debut This Spring
The San Francisco Early Music Society is proud to present the Bay Area debut of Infusion Baroque. Winners of the Grand Prize and Audience Prize at the 2014 Early Music America Baroque Performance Competition, the Montreal-based ensemble will perform three concerts exploring the works of 17th- and 18th-century composers and their tangled, contrary and often scandalous personal lives. Featured will be music by Leclair, Geminiani, Merula, Guignon, Telemann and the Bach family.
Infusion Baroque performs at 8:00 pm Friday, March 11 at First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto; at 7:30 pm Saturday, March12 at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley; and at 4:00 pm Sunday, March 13 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Individual tickets from $34 to $40 are available for purchase online at sfems.org.
In a concert titled Rebels and Rivalries, Infusion Baroque investigates the dark side of beloved 18th-century composers, exposing the personal conflicts, scandals and enmities that shaped their musical lives. The program opens with a pair of works by two violinist-composers at the court of Louis XV. The king appointed them both to his royal household, and Leclaire and Guignon struck a deal whereby they would alternate as first violin. But after one month Leclair quit. The artists continued to work out their rivalry in compositions that pitted against one another the Italian and French styles that were in vogue at the time. Infusion Baroque will perform Leclair's Deuxième récréation de musique, which pays homage to a traditional French dance suite, followed by a Trio Sonata of Guignon, which begins with three movements in the Italianate style, before transitioning to movements in the French style.
J.S. Bach's Cello suite no. 2 in D minor also appears on the program as a nod to the composer's one-time infraction. In a verbal altercation with a student named Geyserbach, J.S. called him a "nanny-goat bassoonist." J.S. even drew his sword, and was later found guilty of instigating the argument.
J.S. Bach's two eldest sons, Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel, are also represented on the program. In childhood they competed for their father's attention, and as adults they struck out on their own to develop distinct musical reputations. C.P.E. turned out to be the more professionally successful of the two, even eclipsing the fame of his father -- at least in his own lifetime. His Trio in C major, which appears on Infusion Baroque's program, is an example of C.P.E.'s "gallant style." By comparison, Friedemann's Keyboard Fantasia in E minor is "quite idiosyncratic and reflects his penchant for virtuosity and improvisation," writes Alexa Raine-Wright in a program note.
Other works on the program include Telemann's First Sonata in A major, (Telemann rebelled against his mother to pursue a career in music), and Francesco Geminiani's "The Broom of Cowdenknows," (the composer was embarrassed so badly in his home state of Naples for lacking a steady rhythm in playing that he moved to London).
The members of Infusion Baroque include Alexa Raine-Wright, baroque flute and recorder;Sallynee Amawat, baroque violin; Camille Paquette-Roy, baroque cello; and Rona Nadler, harpsichord. For more information about Infusion Baroque, visit infusionbaroque.com.
Winners of the Grand Prize and Audience Prize at the 2014 Early Music America Baroque Performance Competition, Montreal-based ensemble Infusion Baroque seeks to draw a new audience to early music by integrating chamber music performance with other media. Their performances have been described as "dynamic and alive" with a stage presence that is "poised and elegant." Infusion Baroque's innovative programming includes Musique en couleur, featuring live painting by visual artist Sylvia Chan, and Who Killed Leclair?, an interactive murder mystery soirée based on the unsolved murder of the famous composer. Infusion Baroque has performed across Eastern Canada and the United States, including appearances at the Montreal Baroque Festival and Boston Early Music Fringe Festival. Upcoming events include engagements with the Houston Early Music Festival, Indianapolis Early Music Festival, Early Music Now (Milwaukee), Renaissance & Baroque (Pittsburgh) and Early Music Guild (Seattle). Their debut CD of the trio sonatas by C.P.E. Bach is scheduled for release later in 2016.
Founded in 1975, SFEMS is the leading early music community-based service and membership organization in the US. Under the direction of Executive Director Harvey Malloy and President Robert Cole, it is the focal institution in Northern California for the advancement of historically informed performance of early music. Through its concert series, publications, outreach activities, affiliate support and educational programs, SFEMS encourages the development of amateurs, supports professionals, and increases public involvement and participation in early music. SFEMS is the lead presenter of the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition of early music.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Delage