Today we worked a double-shift: the first session was spent in the boardroom and the second in the studio. It was great to have time to rehearse and then run the items. Barograf, DeVisée, Satie, Schop, Dowland and Berlioz all got a good going over, and we took out an old favourite of Anita’s by Nicola Matteis (fl.c.1670-after 1714) succinctly entitled Diverse Bizarre sopra la Vecchia Sarabanda o pur Ciaccona. The piece is a set of variations over a repeated harmonic sequence – the violinist (Anita) carries us through many emotions while the continuo (Eamon and I) adjust the nature of the ground bass to suit the shifting moods.
Matteis was the first of a huge wave of Italian violin virtuosi to become rich and famous in London; the diarist John Evelyn wrote on 19th November 1674 “I heard that stupendious Violin Signor Nichola (with other rare Musitians) whom certainly never mortal man Exceeded on that instrument, he had a stroak so sweete, & made it speake like the Voice of a man; & when he pleased, like a Consort of severall Instruments: he did wonders upon a Note: was an excellent Composer also. Nothing approch’d the violin in Nicholas’ hand: he seem’d to be spiritato’d & plaied such ravishing things on a ground as astonishd us all.”
Caroline’s chansons were rehearsed briefly with her in the previous session (no.17) and we decided not to invest in them today; she will be along on Friday morning to put the finishing touches to Quand je Menais mes Chevaux Boire (Normandy, 18th cent) and the Complainte de la Blanche Biche (Brittany, 16th cent). There will also be a surprise from 20th-century France…
- Malachy 22/6/16