The Festival Llums d\'Antiga brings us great soloists and national and European ensembles in its ‎second edition

29-Jan-2020 – Aleix Palau

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


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