Barbaric Beauty

G.P. Telemann & popular music from eastern Europe


François Lazarevitch – Introductory note to Barbaric Beauty

The ‘true barbaric beauty’ of the music Telemann discovered on a trip to Silesia (Poland) in 1705 aroused a vivid enthusiasm in him. His description of the local musicians, and in particular the bagpipe players, is a delicious moment in his autobiography. Telemann is fascinated by their ‘wonderful inspiration when they indulge their fantasy, as soon as the dancers rest’, so much so that ‘someone who is attentive could, in eight days, take from them ideas to last a lifetime’. This is exactly what Telemann did, drawing heavily on these distinctive melodies to ‘dress them up in Italian costume with alternating adagios and allegros’. Of course, these words by Telemann fire my imagination. And the particular appeal of these ‘wild’ works has made me want to combine a variety of other sources in the same programme: Polish dances collected by Telemann (the Rostosck manuscript), old Eastern European folk music from the Uhrovska manuscript (“Gypsy” music around 1730, Slovakia), as well as traditional music from Poland, Moravia, Romania, Ukraine, whose melodies and rhythms are still close to those heard by Telemann…

Hélène Richaud’s warm and supple voice lends itself perfectly to traditional Polish and Moravian songs. Iurie Morar’s cymbalum is just as much at home in the traditional music that he knows well as in the baroque works, which will be heard with renewed interest. I also let my father’s roots vibrate by playing some of these melodies on a small Serbian flute (frula) with jubilant virtuosity.

It is not a question of seeking the “authenticity” of the musical practices evoked by Telemann, but simply of tasting the pleasure of this timeless energy and creating a new, poetic, joyful and colourful artistic object. This surprising project will take us into territories where no one is expecting us and will make us all travel a good deal…

Translation : Christopher Bayton

Approx. 1h20

7 to 9 artists
François Lazarevitch : transverse flute, recorder, frula, bagpipes & direction
Hélène Richaud : voice & cello
Iurie Morar : cimbalom
violin, double bass, archlute / citterntonbak/ davul / percussions
with a second violin and an alto

This programme had been supported by the Sinfonia creative residences.

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