Jordi Savall to conduct the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for the first time

European unity in music by Bach, Handel, Rameau and Geminiani
Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest image: Simon van Boxtel
Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest image: Simon van Boxtel
Jordi Savall will be conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra on Friday, 29 April and on Sunday, 1 May. This is a special first – the eighty-year-old Catalan conductor, programmer and gamba player has been regarded as one of the leading pioneers in early music for decades. His ongoing research into the origins and historical context of Renaissance and Baroque music in particular forms the basis for original, accessible cross-border concerts.
 
Maestro Savall’s concerts with the Concertgebouw Orchestra revolve around dances, which reveal European cultural unity: the eighteenth-century trend in French court culture of incorporating dances from different countries in operas and suites was followed by composers from all over Europe. This led to ever-popular works, including George Frideric Handel’s festive suite Music for the Royal Fireworks, composed for the celebrations of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3, BWV 1068.
 
Both these works feature on the Essentials programme on 29 April. As always with Essentials, the Concertgebouw Orchestra’s compact concerts for those with little experience listening to orchestral music, the presenter Thomas Vanderveken will be giving a colourful introduction.
 
On Sunday, 1 May, these works by Bach and Handel are juxtaposed with lesser-known music. The Concertgebouw Orchestra will be performing excerpts from Les Boréades, the final opera by Handel’s French contemporary Jean-Philippe Rameau, and the Italian composer Francesco Geminiani’s Concerto grosso sopra ‘La follia’ d’Arcangelo Corelli, based on a popular Iberian theme.
 
As Maestro Savall says in the May issue of the music magazine Preludium, ‘If there is unity in Europe, it exists by virtue of culture. That unity grew out of the monasteries and cathedrals of the thirteenth century, and is much stronger than Europe as a political entity. Music is one of the great European inventions. It is a language we all understand.’