NZSO Sessions 2022: Art of Fugue
Vesa-Matti Leppänen (violin/director), Robert Orr (oboe), Alex McFarlane (viola), Andrew Joyce, Rowan Prior (cellos), strings of the New Zealand SO
In 2022, a series of NZSO concerts had to be cancelled during COVID-19 restrictions. In place of these concerts, the NZSO and RNZ Concert partnered to record the music for broadcast on RNZ Concert and video stream on NZSO+
The Art of Fugue was part of the NZSO's Baroque Series, featuring concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppänen, principal oboe Robert Orr, and members of the NZSO.
The programme included extracts from Bach's Art of the Fugue, the Violin and Oboe Concerto, and the suite from Rameau's opera, Les Boréades.
'The Art of Fugue' is an incomplete work of unspecified instrumentation written in the last decade of Bach's life, but it represents the culmination of the composer's experimentation with the form. Bach was not the inventor of the fugue, but his mastery of counterpoint and development of musical ideas became a model for composers for centuries after his death.
In this performance we hear Contrapuntus I, IV, IX, Canon per Augmentationem in Contrario Motu, Canon alla Ottava, Choral on "Herewith I come before Thy Throne"
Vesa-Matti Leppänen (violin/director), Alex McFarlane (viola), Andrew Joyce, Rowan Prior (cellos), strings of the New Zealand SO
Bach’s 'Concerto for Violin and Oboe, BWV 1060' was written during his years in Cöthen, at the court of Prince Leopold. The original manuscript was lost, but scholars were able to reconstruct the work from an arrangement Bach made later for two harpsichords.
Vesa-Matti Leppänen (violin/director), Robert Orr (oboe), Bethany Angus (harpsichord), strings of the New Zealand SO
Parisians have long enjoyed an evening of spectacle, and in the eighteenth-century, opera was full of instrumental music and ballet, that while delaying the plot, served to make it a grand affair. Rameau frequently made suites of the instrumental music in his operas, noting that some audiences seemed to prefer them over the opera themselves.
'Les Boréades' was his final opera and he unfortunately died before it could be staged. It was two centuries before the opera and its suite made it to the stage. 'Les Boréades' is set in ancient Bactria, whose queen is required to choose a husband from the descendants of the God of the North Wind, Boreas. Naturally she chooses a mysterious stranger, enraging Boreas until Apollo appears and reveals the stranger to be his son, and therefore significantly impressive enough to settle any questions of marital propriety.
The suite includes the Entrance of Polyhymnia which has found recent popularity due to its graceful beauty, hunting scenes, and the Suite des Vents including rushing strings and a wind machine for stormy affect.
Vesa-Matti Leppänen (violin/director), members of the New Zealand SO
Recorded at the Michael Fowler Centre, 17-19 of March, 2023
David Houston producer/engineer