Christ Church Cathedral
Artists: Hana Blažíková, soprano; Bruce Dickey, cornetto; the Breathtaking Collective
During the height of its popularity, from the mid-16th century into the 18th, the cornetto was frequently depicted in art as an instrument of angels. Paintings, sculptures, and engravings abound in which the cornetto takes a prominent place among the choirs of angelic musicians. The connection with angels in this program serves as a point of departure for an aural journey that ranges from 1600 to the present day, exploring the ways in which the cornetto and the human voice can interact, imitate each other, and entwine musically.
Works by illustrious 17th century composers Francesco Cavalli and Giacomo Carissimi will be heard next to pieces from a recently discovered manuscript from around 1600 that turned up recently on the auction circuit and then promptly disappeared again after the sale. Two new works by Ivan Moody and Julian Wachner will explore both the instrumental-vocal duality and the theme of angels. These worlds will be bridged with a wonderful chanson of Eric called Les Anges. This concert is sure to bring us closer to angelic realms!
This concert is generously supported by Zelie & Vincent Tan
Carlo G (fl. ca. 1600)
From the Carlo G Manuscript, ca. 1600
Panis Angelicus, Toccata e mottetto
Sicut sponsus Matris
Mater Hierusalem civitas
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – 1594)
Angelus Domini descendit (divisions by Bruce Dickey)
Julian Wachner (1969 – )
The Vision of the Archangels (2020)
Francesco Cavalli (1602 – 1676)
Sonata a 3
O quam suavis
Giacomo Carissimi (1605 – 1674)
Erik Satie (1866 – 1925)
Les Anges, from Trois mélodies (1886)
Giovanni Bononcini (1670 – 1747)
From Il Trionfo di Camilla (1696)
Prenesto: Se Ninfa o Dea tu sei
Camilla: E’ pur ver ch’a soffrir
Prenesto: Tutte armate
Giovanni Maria Bononcini
Sonata quinta a 3
Ivan Moody (1964 – )
O Archangels and Angels (2020)
Alessandro Scarlatti (1660 – 1725)
From Il Comodo Antonino (1696)
Coronato di lauri
Cara e dolce rimembranze
Il desio di vendicarmi
During the height of its popularity, from the mid-16th century into the 18th, the cornetto was frequently depicted in art as an instrument of angels. Paintings, sculptures, and engravings abound in which the cornetto takes a prominent place among the choirs of angelic musicians, usually paired with at least one voice and other instruments such as the organ, viol, lute, harp, violin and trombone. The connection with angels in our program will not be systematic, but is rather an image which serves as a point of departure for an aural journey that ranges from 1600 to the present day, exploring the ways in which the cornetto and the human voice can interact, imitate each other, and entwine musically. The cornetto was always felt to be the instrument that could best imitate the human voice. We explored that connection in our enormously successful project “Breathtaking”, and we continue the exploration in this new program. There are pieces on texts containing or describing angels, but there are others whose only connection to the theme lies in the angelic nature of the pairing of these sounds.
We will return to explore sacred music of the early 17th century, with works by Francesco Cavalli and Giacomo Carissimi, but also music from a fascinating and recently discovered manuscript from around 1600 that turned up recently on the auction circuit and then promptly disappeared again after the sale. It contains florid sacred monodies and duets of a variety of composers, but mostly by the compiler himself, signed Carlo G… (The rest of his last name is obscured by a smudge.) The music is fascinating for its elaborate ornamentation and its use of instruments. We will perform pieces for two sopranos, in which the cornetto takes the role of the second soprano, and pieces for soprano and violin, in which the elaborate ornamentation of the violin is sometimes played on the cornetto.
During the final decade of the 17th century, the cornetto enjoyed an unusual and surprising flowering in the world of opera, especially in Naples. Virtuoso parts for the instrument appear in works of, among others, Giovanni Bononcini, and Alessandro Scarlatti. Imagining that a brilliant cornettist might at times have taken over the occasional aria written for violin obbligato, we have created a mix of arias with obbligati for cornetto and others for violin, which we have appropriated with pleasure.
We have commissioned two new works for our angels project by Ivan Moody and Julian Wachner. Moody is an English conductor, musicologist, composer and Orthodox priest who lives and works in Lisbon. His many works show the influence of Eastern liturgical chant and the Orthodox Church. He has written highly successful works for groups such as the Hilliard Ensemble, Red Byrd, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and many others. Julian Wachner is an American composer, conductor and keyboard player. Since 2011 he has been Director of Music and the Arts at Trinity Wall Street Church in New York City. Though he has written in many genres both sacred and secular, much of his early work was liturgical. He has described his music as lying “between the Apollonian world of church music and the academy and the Dionysian world of opera and the stage.” These composers will explore both the instrumental-vocal duality and the theme of angels.
We will bridge these musical worlds with a wonderful chanson (1886) of Eric Satie called Les Anges. Taking literally the words of the chanson which describes “lutes shivering under the fingers of angels to produce the divine harmony”, we have arranged the piano accompaniment for lute, confident of not having brought harm to the composition. The writing for cornetto from Carlo G through D’India, Bononcini and Scarlatti to Moody and Wachner calls forth many facets of the cornetto’s sound: at once vocal and instrumental, sweet and strident, intimate and disembodied. None of us knows, of course, how the cornetto sounded in earlier centuries, but it has given us great joy to explore once again how the timbres of the cornetto and the human voice can play off of each other, entwine, echo and respond in so many different musical worlds. We hope that the radiance of our sounds holds in it something angelic.
Hana Blažíková, soprano
The Czech soprano, Hana Blažíková, was born in Prague. As a child she sung in a children choir Radost Praha and she played violin. Later she turned to solo singing, graduating in 2002 from the Prague Conservatory in the class of Jiří Kotouč. Later she undertook further study with Poppy Holden, Peter Kooij, Monika Mauch and Howard Crook.
Today Hana has achieved high acclaim as a leading specialist in the interpretation of baroque, rennaisance and medieval music, performing with ensembles and orchestras around the world, including the Collegium Vocale Gent, Bach Collegium Japan, Sette Voci, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, L’Arpeggiata, Gli Angeli Geneve, La Fenice, Nederlandse Bachvereniging, Tafelmusik, Collegium 1704, Collegium Marianum, Musica Florea, L’Armonia Sonora among others. She regulartly cooperates with the world-class cornetto player Bruce Dickey, with whom she recorded the CD “Breathtaking” and together they continue performing this program around the world.
Hana”s busy schedule has taken her to many important festivals, including the Edinburgh International festival, Salzburger Festspiele, the Utrecht Early Music Festival, Tage Alter Musik Regensburg, Resonanzen in Vienna, the Festival de Sablé, the Festival de la Chaise-Dieu, Arts Festival Hong-Kong, Chopin i jego Europa, the Bachfest Leipzig, Concentus Moraviae, Summer Festivities of Early Music, and the Festival de Saintes.
During 2017 she appeared in major venues all over Europe and in the USA in the trilogy of Monteverdi”s operas (L”Orfeo, Il ritorno d:”Ulisse in patria, L”incoronazione di Poppea) under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner. In this majestic project she introduced herself in the roles of La Musica, Euridice, Minerva, Fortuna and Poppea.
In 2010 and 2013 she took part in a highly praised tour with St. Matthew’s Passion under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe and in 2011 she made her debut in Carnegie Hall with Masaaki Suzuki´s Bach Collegium Japan. She also sang a soprano part of St. Joh’ss Passion with Boston Symphony Orchestra during the Easter period of 2011. In November 2014 she participated in the stage production “Orfeo chaman” with L’Arpeggiata in Bogota.
Hana appears on more than thirty CDs, including the well-known series of Bach’s cantatas with Bach Collegium Japan.
She also plays gothic harp and romanesque harp and presents concerts in which she accompanies herself on this instrument. In addition she is a member of the Tiburtina Ensemble, which specializes in Gregorian chant and early medieval polyphony.
Bruce Dickey, cornetto
Bruce Dickey is one of a handful of musicians worldwide who have dedicated themselves to reviving the cornetto – once an instrument of great virtuosi, but which lamentably fell into disuse in the 19th century. The revival began in the 1950s, but it was largely Bruce Dickey, who, from the late 1970s, created a new renaissance of the instrument, allowing the agility and expressive power of the cornetto to be heard once again.
His many students, over more than 30 years of teaching at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, have helped to consolidate and elevate the status of this once forgotten instrument. For his achievements the Historic Brass Society awarded him in 2000 the prestigious Christopher Monk Award for “his monumental work in cornetto performance, historical performance practice and musicological scholarship.” In 2007 he was honored by British conductor and musicologist Andrew Parrott with a “Taverner Award” as one of 14 musicians whose “significant contributions to musical understanding have been motivated by neither commerce nor ego.”
In the course of his long career as a performer and recording artist he has worked with most of the leading figures in the field of early music, including the legendary pioneers of historically informed perfomance, Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Brüggen and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He was a member for over ten years of Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XX , and has frequently and repeatedly collaborated with Ton Koopman, Monica Huggett, Philippe Herreweghe and many others. Of special importance has been his long-time friendship and collaboration with Andrew Parrott, and in more recent years with Konrad Junghänel.
Bruce Dickey can be heard on countless recordings. His solo CD (“Quel lascivissimo cornetto…”) on Accent with the ensemble Tragicomedia was awarded the Diapason d’or. His second solo CD, entitled “La Bella Minuta”, has just been released on the Passacaille label.
In addition to performing, Bruce Dickey is much in demand as a teacher, both of the cornetto and of seventeenth-century performance practice. In addition to his regular class at the Schola Cantorum he has taught at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, as well as master classes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. He is also active in research on performance practice, and has published, together with Michael Collver, a catalog of the surviving cornetto repertoire, and, together with trumpeter Edward Tarr, a book on historical wind articulation. In 1997, together with his wife Candace Smith, he founded Artemisia Editions, a small publishing house which produces editions of music from 17th-century Italian convents.
For more information, please visit brucedickey.com.
The Breathtaking Collective
In 2014, Bruce Dickey began a project together with Czech soprano Hana Blažíková to explore the affinity of the cornetto and the human voice. The project was called Breathtaking: A Cornetto and a Voice Entwined. With the program that evolved from that project, Bruce and Hana recorded a CD for the Passacaille label and toured the world performing the program more than forty times in North America, Europe and Australia. In order to make the touring financially viable, they have paired with backup ensembles in Europe, the USA and Australia. They now call the pool of musicians involved in the project, The Breathtaking Collective, transforming the project Breathtaking into an ongoing ensemble. With this ensemble, they have now launched a new project called On the Breath of Angels.