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  • Sep 24

    Carriage Barn, Park McCullough House

    North Bennington

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Andre Laurent O'Neil plays Telemann, Sonata in G

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Bennington Baroque   --- Pièces en concerts              PRESS RELEASE  3/22/2013

Bennington Baroque will present a concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, 2013, at the Carriage Barn of the Park McCullough House in North Bennington. Two performers will join Sandra Mangsen (harpsichord) in works by Bach, Telemann, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Michel de La Barre and Marin Marais.  Bennington Baroque was founded two years ago by harpsichordist Sandra Mangsen in order to offer performances of baroque and classical music on instruments of the period, whose timbre and playing technique differ profoundly from their modern counterparts.  In this concert, Mangsen will be joined by Mathieu Langlois, on baroque flute, and Alice Robbins of Northampton, Massachusetts, who will play the viola da gamba. All three performers have specialized in early music performance for years:  Robbins, who studied at Indiana University and the Schola Cantorum of Basel, performs widely on baroque cello and viola da gamba and teaches at Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges in the Five College Early Music Program.  Langlois, a former student of Mangsen at the University of Western Ontario, spent four years at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (The Netherlands) studying historical flutes; he is now a doctoral candidate in musicology at Cornell University, where he directs Les Petits Violons, Cornell's period instrument ensemble.  Mangsen is a professor emerita at the University of Western Ontario who has retired to North Bennington, where she continues her professional activities in both musicology and historical performance. Locally she serves on the Board of the Sage City Symphony and often plays second violin or keyboard with that group. 

The title of the concert comes from a 1741 publication of Jean-Philippe Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concerts, which contains five suites playable either as harpsichord solos or "en concerts," as trios.  In his preface Rameau asserts that he is following a tradition already established in Paris (he is referring, no doubt, to collections such as those of Jacquet de La Guerre in 1707 and Mondonville in 1734, for harpsichord with violin accompaniment).  Rameau published his suites in score, so that the players could see each other's parts, better enabling them to retreat into the background "when they are only accompanying," and to play more strongly when they have thematically important material. He claims, as well, that "these pieces played by the harpsichord alone leave nothing to be desired." In order to test this claim, Mangsen will perform one movement as a solo and let the audience judge the result.

While Rameau may have regarded the accompanying instruments as dispensable, in Bach's Sonata in G Major for viola da gamba and harpsichord, the two players are equal partners – neither one can be left out – and the harpsichord part is entirely written out by the composer.  That this is a striking innovation is clear when you consider that in most baroque chamber music the keyboardist improvises from a figured bass line, somewhat like a jazz fake book, which provides only sketchy information about the harmony to be supplied.  Realizing the figured bass at sight was a necessary skill for harpsichordists and organists in the baroque period, sadly lost to most modern players. 

Mangsen will open the concert with Bach's Toccata in E Minor, a work from early in Bach's career.  Other works include a suite for viola da gamba and figured bass by Marin Marais (whose life and music were featured in the 1991 film Tous les matins du monde, and a sonata for flute and figured bass by his contemporary Michel de La Barre, whose sonatas for solo flute (Paris, 1702) were the first to be published for that instrument.  Finally Langlois will play a sonata by Georg Philipp Telemann, from his Sonate metodiche of 1728.

Admission is by donation.

For more information please contact Sandra Mangsen at 802 681-7210 or Sandra@benningtonbaroque.org