L’Auditori presents the second edition of the Festival Llums d'Antiga, which will take place between the 4th and 16th of February 2020 in various locations throughout Barcelona, and continues the spirit of bringing to the public repertoires and performers outside the confines of the concert halls.
This year the Festival begins with the work of Ludwig van Beethoven on the 250th anniversary of his birth to explore the concept of personal and artistic freedom.
Ensembles and soloists from far and wide visit the Festival
The opening concert, entitled The Bonfire of the Vanities, will be performed by Ensemble O Vos Omnes. The Catalan ensemble will present a before and after of the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola in the Florence of the Medici. Savonarola preached vehemently from the church of San Marco, and harshly criticised the corruption of the clergy, the wealth of the rich and the sins of the Church.
Florence, prior to the arrival of the friar, was a city in which carnival musicians and risqué and shameless songs formed an essential part of the festivities in the Florentine palaces. With Savonarola’s powerful influence and strict doctrine, all these festive expressions were prohibited in Florence and the songs were replaced with lauds and motets with religious content.
His power brought about the downfall of the Medici, as was portrayed in The Bonfire of the Vanities, when clothes, cosmetics, mirrors, art, books, scores and instruments were burned. Eventually, the friar attacked Pope Alexander VI and, in his fight against the Borgia, he met his end: he was excommunicated, tortured and sentenced to death, becoming a victim of the same fire he had stoked.
Leaving Savonarola’s Florence, Graindelavoix will take us on a journey through the music of composers from the 15th to the 17th centuries, showing us that the music of that time was not as austere as we might imagine. Works by Guillaume de Machaut, Solage, Alexander Agricola, Antoine Brumel, Nicolas Gombert, Cipriano De Rore, Carlo Gesualdo and other, lesser-known, composers, all of them musical greats from the late Middle Ages to the birth of Renaissance polyphony, are certain to impress 21st-century audiences.
The third event of the Festival Llums d'Antiga brings us a highly-acclaimed young ensemble, El Gran Teatro del Mundo, who will explore the parallels and differences between the literature of the Spanish Golden Age and the opera of the French Grand Siècle. To this end, the programme offers a reconstruction of a small French opera following the model of the tragédie lyrique. This new version features music by French composers André Campra, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Jean-Baptiste Lully and Marin Marais.
The plot is based on Segismundo’s monologue at the end of the first act of La vida es sueño by Calderón de la Barca, comparing his discourse with French themes and the exploration of the dream element of sleep. In each act of the opera we find different meanings that the Baroque found in sleep: from the simple state of rest to the mystical metaphor of the meeting of life and death, passing through dreams and nightmares. And, as an epilogue, the demi-god Orpheus descending into hell makes the listener reflect on awakening as the end of an illusion. Or, as Segismundo says: “For all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams.”
Following his success in the first edition of the Festival Llums d'Antiga, the harpsichordist Justin Taylor returns to offer us a programme that revindicates the harpsichord as a soloist instrument, with a repertoire that goes beyond the usual selection of music from the 17th and 18th centuries. Last season he played music by the Forqueray family, which left no doubt as to why he won first prize at the prestigious International Musica Antiqua Harpsichord Competition in Bruges. In this new concert he extends the capabilities of his instrument.
The concert by Taylor features works by Domenico Scarlatti, Pare Antoni Soler and György Ligeti. The music of the 18th and 20th centuries come together and enter into dialogue, at times contradicting and at times complementing each other. The challenge is both technical and musical, but the performance of the young harpsichordist not only makes the texts converse but he also illuminates them, revealing aesthetic proposals and demonstrating compositional resources that were surprisingly familiar among composers as distant in time as Scarlatti and Ligeti.
Next up in this concert is Sollazzo Ensemble, who will perform a series of moralising songs of the late Middle Ages that they have recorded (Linn Records, 2017) and which have won them numerous awards, including the Diapason d’Or 2018. Parle qui veut (Speak, whoever wants to), which is the title of an anonymous medieval song, lends its name to a programme that offers us texts of surprising force.
Six hundred years ago, poets and musicians were already reflecting, singing about human nature, and in a special way, about critical thinking and the importance of the arts. Now, today’s musicians give voice to some medieval compositions by French and Italian composers such as Andrea da Firenze, Johannes Ciconia, Francesco Landini, Niccolò da Perugia, Paolo da Firenze and Solage. Surprisingly modern, the courtly love is laden with phrases with double meanings. Protest, irony and bittersweet humour are sprinkled throughout these 14th-century songs that will make you laugh and reflect in equal parts.
The Festival Llums d'Antiga will conclude with La Real Cámara, conducted by Emilio Moreno. Together with soprano María Espada they will perform a special programme on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the birth of composer Antonio Caldara.
In around 1708, Italian composer Antonio Caldara spent a few months in Barcelona working as chamber composer to Archduke Charles. The aspirant to the Spanish crown had settled in Barcelona a few years earlier, bringing over his future wife and an entire royal entourage in which there was no shortage of composers and singers, musicians, painters and architects, to stage a show that would be new to the city: the opera. Thus, Caldara is famed for having written the first opera to premier in Spain, in the midst of the Spanish War of Succession.
Close to the Palau Reial, the Llotja de Mar (former marketplace) in Barcelona hosted this first opera, as well as other similar performances to the liking of the Austrian court. La Real Cámara, conducted by Emilio Moreno and accompanied by María Espada as soloist, commemorates the 350th anniversary of the Italian composer by performing arias and instrumental pieces from the operas Il più bel nome (Barcelona, 1708), Il nome più glorioso (Barcelona, 1709), L’Atenaide (Barcelona, 1709) Scipione nelle Spagne (Vienna, 1722), Don Chisciotte in corte della Duchessa (Vienna, 1727) and Sancio Panza governatore de l’Isola Barattaria (Vienna, 1733).
*Download the dossier and images of the artists performing at the Festival Llums d'Antiga here
*Download the video of Festival Llums d'Antiga here
Aleix Palau | 29 January 2020
The Festival Llums d'Antiga brings us great soloists and national and European ensembles in its second edition
From the 4th to 16th of February, under the title LLibertat. Entre el caos i l’ordre (Freedom. Between Chaos and Order), the festival will explore personal and artistic freedom with the figure of Beethoven as its starting point. The Monastery of Sant Pau del Camp will be one of the stages for the Festival Llums d'Antiga this year, together with the Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi, the Chapel of Santa Àgata and L’Auditori. The four venues will host six concerts featuring over 50 artists and around 60 works.