The King's 24 Strings, Sacred Songs and the Hemsch

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

EARLY MUSIC It's the height of the Early Music Festival in Utrecht. A feast of French Baroque music!

 

''Les 24 Violons du Roi"- the remarkable orchestra founded under Louis XIII has played an important role at the court of Versailles. It was famous for its 5-part instrumentation with three middle parts played by violas of equal tuning, but different size. Since the original instruments were lost, a few years ago the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles had them reconstructed on the basis of source material. These 'newbuild-historical' instruments were visiting The Netherlands for the first time. They were played by Capriccio Stravagante - Les 24 Violons in a safe and sound perfomance. Harpsichordist Skip Sempé conducted.

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Saturday night the Choeurs et Orchestre Le Parnasse Français conducted by Louis Castelain sounded in the Jacobikerk. In a program of Grand Motets, the artistic absolute of sacred repertoire under Louis XIV. In four works by Jean-Baptiste Lully, André Campra, Henri Desmarest and Michel-Richard de Lalande, a great part had been awarded to the soloists. Soprano Judith Gauthier, who had only arrived the very morning to replace the ill Claire Lefilliâtre, together with tenor Jeffrey Thompson and bass Romain Champion made a beautifully balanced trio of solo singers. The acoustics of the medieval church in combination with the singing of the choirs made the skin crawl in Campra's Magnificat.

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Monday afternoon the Hemsch harpsichord was in the centre of attention. Restorer Anthony Sidey and harpsichord player Frédérick Haas presented a lecture with live examples on this unique instrument in residence. The Festival offered young professionals the opportunity to learn from the historic Hemsch harpsichord in a workshop led by Frédérick Haas. And in between Aurélien Delage gave a concert entitled 'At home in Versailles'.

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