For any baroque music lover it is easy to listen to Italian baroque music, which is considered to be different from French baroque music that is also different from German music… and that´s all! Three national styles… but we are forgetting Scottish and Irish music, authors such Veracini or Geminiani were amazed at this music, for baroque musicians this music was some especial, and still today, it is.
“[…] the fame harmonies the fame modulations were practised in the compositions of the Flemish the Italian the German the French and the English musicians and nothing characteristic of the genius or humour of a particular country or province […] except in those of the Scots and Irish the former where of are in a style so peculiar”
John Hawkins, “A General History Of The Science and Practice Of Music: In Five …, Vol. 4” London, 1776
Irish Coffee is an original concert program focused on Irish and Scottish music, a style of music that inspired many composers in all Europe and that nowadays conserves its peculiarities and personality in much the same way as he did three centuries ago.
All the pieces presented in the program were composed around the same period (between 1740 and 1750) and quite close geographically speaking. The imitation of the bagpipe of the Pioberachd Mhie Dhonuil from The Caledonian Pocket Companion was quite possibly known by Veracini, who lived in London around this period and wrote the Scozzese of in his Sonata upon the song Tweed Side, this Scottish song is also contained in The Caledonian Pocket Companion by Oswald.
The Scottish violinist and composer William McGibbon was possibly a student of Veracini. McGibbon is able to speak two musical languages with incredible ease and fluency. On the one hand, his Sonata in B is a marvelous example of the Italian style, and on the other hand, his compositions in his musical mother tongue are wonderful examples of the Scottish music that influenced Veracini or Geminiani.
Geminiani was also very much seduced by the Irish and Scottish style, the pieces included in the program are taken from his book A Treatise of Good taste in the Art of musick. It is quite representative that he chose these pieces to explain what is “good taste”. The pieces are variations on Scottish and Irish themes, we find one of them especially striking, it is one of the variations on The Country Lass, a song written in 3/4. In this variation the bass line continues on 3/4 while the variation in the violin is written in 4/4, resulting in a true polyrhythm. The effect is like trying to dance a waltz (3/4) with a couple running the 4/4 time… and still dance together. It is great to see something like this serve to exemplify the musical taste in the 18th century.
O’Carolan is considered by many to be Ireland’s national composer. He was a very famous composer in his time, it is said that Geminiani wrote to O’Carolan showing some of his pieces and asked for his advice, it seems that O’Carolan replied with some corrections and after seeing them, Gemiani stated O’Carolan was really the best composer with whom he had met.
Marsail Lochinalie by Oswald is a depiction of a battle, a kind of composition that was quite in fashion during the baroque in Scotland and Ireland, it is followed by a dance, Up and ware them a’ Willie. There are several hypothesis about the origins of the song, some of them make reference to some battles, like Culloden (1745) or the Battle of Shrieffmuir (1715). One of the anecdotes related with the song tells that the tune was the choice of William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland and victor at Culloden, when he partnered at a dance the Jacobite Lady Anne Mackintosh, who had been brought to London during the rebellion. It was meant as a pointed message. She went him one better by immediately inviting him to dance to her choice of tune… fighting with music is much better than other fights!
The Caledonian Pocket Companion Vol. XII (ca. 1750)
Pioberachd Mhie Dhonuil
Francesco Maria Veracini
Sonata accademica op.2 nr.9 (1740)
Allegro moderatamente – Adagio – Scozzese – Largo – Scozzese
Sonata in B minor (ca. 1745)
Adagio – Allegro – Largo – Presto
A Collection of Scots Tunes, some with Variations for a Violin, (1746)
The Last of Plates Mill – The Bottom of the Punch bowl – ‘If you had been Where I have been, Oh, you would no be so canty-o
The Flower of the forest
Willie was a wanton wag
Airs from “A Treatise of Good taste in the Art of musick” (1749)
Air 1. Auld Bob Morrice – Allegro
Air 2. The Country Lass – Allegro
Air 3. Lady Ann Bothwell’s Lament – Allegro
Air 4. Sleepy Body
The Hibernian Muse, (ca. 1770)
The Caledonian Pocket Companion
Up and ware them a’ Willie
What the audience said after Irish Coffee
“…their concert at St Mary’s, Maldon, in Essex was wonderful – lively, different and performed with great warmth and charm.”
M.R. (Maldon, UK)
“What a joy, what a pleasure, you all let the instruments dance”
R. (The Hague, NL)
“A real piece of art which can directly penetrate deep into heart and soul”
A.A. (The Hague, NL)
“A very special programme played with enthusiasm”
S.F. (The Hague, NL)
“Thank you for a wonderful concert, it certainly makes me want more!”
W.R. (Dalfsen, NL)
“Thank you for making baroque music so touching and vivid!”
V. (Maastricht, NL)
We have more quotes, but it is better if you just listen to the concert!
Complete concert. Ecchi Lontani Festival, Cagliari, Italy. 19th March 2016