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Baroque specialists to recreate sound of the times

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 25, 2013 - 20:21

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Imagine a music concert in the 18th century, before the time of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky or Mahler.

The melody lines, chords and concert venue atmosphere were different ― it was only after the 19th century that ordinary people began to enjoy performances at large concert halls. Before that, classical music was for high society. Above all, musical instruments were a little different.

Two Baroque music specialists are visiting Korea with their interpretations of Baroque music and instruments. 
Sigiswald Kuijken, who is to perform Bach’s Cantata at Bangbae Cathedral on Thursday. (Arts Council Korea0 Sigiswald Kuijken, who is to perform Bach’s Cantata at Bangbae Cathedral on Thursday. (Arts Council Korea0

The first to arrive is Sigiswald Kuijken, dubbed the godfather of Baroque music, who will perform Bach’s Cantata at Bangbae Cathedral in southern Seoul together with Bach Solisten Seoul, a choral group, on Thursday.

The master of Baroque music is famous for using the old technique of putting the violin on the shoulder without a shoulder rest and restoring the violoncello da spalla, the early form of cello, to capture the original atmosphere of the music.

“I think Baroque music could give peace of mind, which most people living in the overly dynamic world of today are missing. The role of classical music is to provide the audience with an opportunity to reflect on their lives,” Kuijken said at a press conference held before the event. “Most of all, it allows musicians to think over the already-standardized use of instruments.”

The organizer of the event said the cathedral was the perfect venue for the solemn yet energetic world of Bach. 
Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens Du Louvre Grenoble will perform Rameau and Gluck pieces at the Seongnam Arts Center on March 5. (Seongnam Arts Center) Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens Du Louvre Grenoble will perform Rameau and Gluck pieces at the Seongnam Arts Center on March 5. (Seongnam Arts Center)

On March 5, at the Seongnam Arts Center in Gyeonggi Province at 8 p.m., Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens Du Louvre Grenoble (The musicians of the Louvre) will perform Rameau’s “Une Symphonie Imaginaire” and Gluck’s “Le Festin de Pierre-Don Juan.”

The French bassoon player-and-conductor known for his interpretation of French Baroque music excerpted some arias ― which are, surprisingly, dance music ― from 11 of Rameau’s operas and rearranged them into a medley. The Gluck piece was composed for a ballet performance and is expected to deliver the dynamic sound of Baroque music.

“The most important feature of Baroque music is its diversity,” said Lee Jun-hyoung, a music critic.

“While many people perceive Baroque music to be stiff and rigid, it is in fact very liberal. There are sometimes no specific notes and players must rely on improvisation,” he said.

“Kuijken is expected to deliver the very standard and essential part of Baroque music. Minkowski, on the other hand, will blow you away with the dynamics and all the versatility,” Lee said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)