16-24 May 2014
St John’s Smith Square / St Peter’s Eaton Square / Westminster Abbey
30th anniversary of Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music
The Year 1714 celebrates a trio of 300th anniversaries: the Hanoverian ascent to the British throne; St John’s Smith Square (the Festival’s home); and the birth of CPE Bach
Featuring: The Sixteen & Harry Christophers; Laurence Cummings & Orchestra of the Göttingen Handel Festival; Vox Luminis; Rachel Podger & Arte dei Suonatori; The Hilliard Ensemble & Kati Debretzeni; Helsinki Baroque Orchestra with Pierre Hantaï; Choir of Westminster Abbey, St James's Baroque & James O'Donnell; La Risonanza; L'Avventura London; Carole Cerasi; Dorothee Oberlinger; Iestyn Davies; Mary Bevan; Ruby Hughes and more
For thirty years, the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music has been at the forefront of early music performance, bringing internationally-renowned and emerging artists to its home venue of St John’s Smith Square, London and blowing away the cobwebs from established masterpieces and forgotten miniatures of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 2014, Artistic Director Lindsay Kemp has chosen to mark three decades of Anglo-German collaboration, exemplary music-making and innovative programming by celebrating an important turning-point in British history: the Hanoverian Accession in 1714.
The Year 1714 saw the coronation of George I and the birth of an era in which the music of another German immigrant, George Frideric Handel, would become central to England’s grandest celebrations of military victories, royal birthdays and peace treaties. The Year 1714 was also the year in which CPE Bach was born and the first corner stone of St John’s Smith Square was laid. This trio of 300th anniversaries threads through the programme of the 30th Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music in music written for state occasions, for low entertainments, for private mourning and for the pleasure of the gentleman amateur.
The works of Handel, born in Halle, resident in Brook Street and naturalized as a British citizen in 1727, are key to this year’s Festival, which opens with The Sixteen’s performance of the four anthems written for the coronation of George II: My heart is inditing, The King shall rejoice, Let thy hand be strengthened and Zadok the Priest. The annual concert at the site of that coronation, Westminster Abbey, includes Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum and Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, with James O'Donnell conducting St James's Baroque (also celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2014), the Choir of Westminster Abbey, and soloists including soprano Ruby Hughes and counter-tenor Iestyn Davies. The closing performance at St John’s Smith Square sees British Handelian Laurence Cummings direct the American tenor Kenneth Tarver, the NDR Choir (Hamburg) and the Orchestra of the Göttingen Handel Festival in the 1748 oratorio Joshua, Handel’s first use of the famous chorus ‘See, the conqu’ring hero comes’, and the Festival’s first collaboration with the Göttingen International Handel Festival, Europe’s oldest early music festival.
Away from the pomp and splendour of state occasions and Handel’s dramatic Biblical epics, is the music of Hanoverian England’s drawing rooms, theatres, concert rooms and pleasure gardens. Festival favourites Fabio Bonizzoni and La Risonanza explore Handel’s playful Trio Sonatas and Italian chamber duets alongside music by the mysterious composer, diplomat and cleric Agostino Steffani and another German Londoner, Johann Christoph Pepusch. Recorder virtuoso Dorothee Oberlinger and harpsichordist Peter Kofler examine the cosmopolitan tastes of the eighteenth-century gentleman amateur in grounds, sonatas and suites by Godfrey Finger, William Babell, Andrew Parcham, Henry Purcell and that most urbane of Handel’s contemporaries, Georg Philipp Telemann.
Rising opera stars Mary Bevan and Anthony Gregory contrast Handel’s English arias with the salty, satirical humour of Georgian England’s home-grown theatre music and popular songs with lutenist Žak Osmo and Festival debut ensemble, L’Avventura London. Inspirational violinist Rachel Podger directs acclaimed Polish period-instrument orchestra Arte dei Suonatori in flamboyant concerti by Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli, Veracini and Geminiani – each one revered in Georgian England – while harpsichordists Pierre Hantaï and Aapo Häkkinen and the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra present all three concertos for two harpsichords by Handel’s great peer, JS Bach, alongside a concerto by Bach’s most famous and musically inventive son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
Pioneer of extreme harmonic effects and virtuosic keyboard fantasias, CPE Bach is also celebrated in an intimate recital of works for harpsichord and fortepiano by Carole Cerasi in St Peter’s Eaton Square. Back at St John’s Smith Square, violinist Kati Debretzeni joins The Hilliard Ensemble for a late-night performance of Morimur: a haunting musical realisation of the theory that Bach’s great chaconne for solo violin is threaded through with private allusions to an Easter hymn and was written in memory of his late first wife, Maria Barbara. The QuintEssential Sackbut and Cornett Ensemble continue the theme of mourning and memory in sacred and secular music from seventeenth-century Germany, and are joined by the Gramophone Award-winning Belgian ensemble Vox Luminis for Schütz’s Musicalische Exequien and Purcell’s Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary.
Additional events in The Year 1714 include guided musical tours of St John’s Smith Square and a tour of the Foundling Museum, the charity to which Handel bequeathed Messiah, where the exhibition ‘By George! Handel’s music for royal occasions’ further details the composer’s relationship with the Hanoverian family. The sixth annual Lufthansa Lecture will be given by the Festival’s founding Artistic Director, Tess Knighton, who returns to look back over 30 momentous years during which the Lufthansa Festival has been at the heart of the early-music movement, bringing new artists and rare repertoire to London every year.
The Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music is delivered in partnership with the Lufthansa Group, in association with Rolls-Royce plc.