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  • Carnegie Hall Presents
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Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

Foreign Affairs: Characters of the Baroque
Thursday, March 23, 2017 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
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This program of rewarding Baroque works highlight dance-inspired French music, Vivaldi’s exuberant virtuosity, Bach's and Telemann’s brilliance, and Handel’s hybrid German-Italian-English style. Early-music superstar ensemble Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin returns to Carnegie Hall to showcase this splendid variety of music. According to The New York Times, their last visit to Carnegie Hall elicited “gasps of delighted surprise from people in the audience.”

Part of Mix and Mingle.


Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin


TELEMANN Overture Suite in B-flat Major, TWV 55:B5, "Les nations"
BACH "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049
HANDEL Suite from Almira
VIVALDI Concerto in D Minor for Two Oboes, Strings, and Continuo, RV 535
REBEL Les caractères de la danse

TELEMANN "Attacking the Windmills" from Suite "Burlesque de Quixotte," TWV 55:G10
GEOFFRY WHARTON "Wharton's Hoedown"

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

At a Glance

The five composers on tonight’s program represent three cultures and traditions—German, Italian, and French—that dominated European music in the first half of the 18th century. Although few composers of the time traveled widely, the growing social, commercial, and cultural ties that bound the continent together ensured that musical styles and ideas circulated freely. As a result, much music of the Baroque era reflects a cosmopolitan synthesis of the sturdily contrapuntal German idiom; the melodious, extraverted Italian style; and the French penchant for florid, speech-like arioso.

Dance music was popular among all echelons of European society, but it was the minuet, sarabande, gavotte, and other courtly dances that exerted the strongest influence on Baroque composers and, not coincidentally, appealed most naturally to their aristocratic patrons and employers. That influence bore fruit in a myriad of dance-inspired instrumental works such as Telemann’s programmatic “Les nations” Overture Suite; the staged dances that Handel wrote for his debut opera, Almira; and Jean-Fery Rebel’s choreographic “fantasy,” Les caractères de la danse.

Virtuosity is another common thread that underlies Baroque composers’ interest in dramatic expression and technical display, as evidenced by the proliferation of instrumental concertos in the 18th century. Both Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 4 in G Major, featuring solo parts for violin and alto recorders, and Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Minor for Two Oboes, Strings, and Continuo illustrate the growing taste for music that pitted two groups of instrumentalists against each other in a kind of friendly competition.


Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (Akamus) was founded in 1982. Since its start, it has become one of the world's leading chamber orchestras on period instruments. From New York to Tokyo, London to Buenos Aires, Akamus has appeared at the world's most important venues.

Akamus has established itself as one of the pillars of Berlin's cultural scene, having had its own concert series at the Konzerthaus Berlin for more than 30 years and having collaborated with the Staatsoper Berlin on Baroque repertoire since 1994. In addition, the ensemble has had its own concert series at Munich's Prinzregententheater since 2012.

The ensemble has an especially close and enduring partnership with René Jacobs. Their mutual passion to explore new paths has led to the rediscovery and reinterpretation of many operas and oratorios to great international critical acclaim. Conductors such as Marcus Creed, Daniel Reuss, and Hans-Christoph Rademann have an especially close relationship with the orchestra. In the coming season, Akamus will be directed by conductors such as Emmanuelle Haïm, Bernard Labadie, Paul Agnew, Diego Fasolis, and Rinaldo Alessandrini. Along with working with guest conductors, the orchestra is directed often from the leader's chair by one of its three concert masters: Bernhard Forck, Georg Kallweit, or Stephan Mai.

To date, Akamus has sold more than one million CDs. Since 1994, its recordings have been produced exclusively for Harmonia Mundi and have won many awards, including the Grammy, Diapason d'Or, Cannes Classical, Gramophone, Edison, MIDEM Classical, Choc de l'année, as well as the Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. In 2006, Akamus received the Telemann Prize of Magdeburg, and in 2014, both the Bach Medal and ECHO Klassik.

Akamus's most recent CD releases include Handel's Water Music, Mendelssohn's Elijah (conducted by Hans-Christoph Rademann), and Bach's St. John Passion (conducted by René Jacobs).

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