Italians in London

By Janet Palumbo
Le Triomphe de l’amour, New Jersey’s chamber music ensemble performing music of the Baroque on period instruments, will present a concert on Friday, November 30 at the Unitarian Church of Princeton. (This concert was originally scheduled for Nov. 3 but postponed by Hurricane Sandy.) The concert of 18th century chamber music, “Italians in London,” includes instrumental music by Corelli, Scarlatti, Veracini, Barsanti, and others and excerpts from Italian operas by Bononcini and Ariosti. The members of the ensemble are Laura Heimes, soprano; John Burkhalter, recorder; Donna Fournier, viola da gamba; and Janet Palumbo, harpsichord. John Burkhalter will present a pre-concert talk at 7:30 pm; the concert begins at 8:00 pm. Music from Italy was all the rage in 18th century London and, in his talk, “Mad About Music,” Mr. Burkhalter will discuss the mania for Italian music that swept the English capital. Italian violinists and singers who visited London or emigrated to England enjoyed the adulation of their British audiences. Even Italian composers who never left home had their music published in London. Music lovers in England, including members of the Royal family, were eager to have the latest songs and sonatas from Italy.
Mr. Burhkalter will be the recorder soloist in sonatas by Corelli, Veracini, and Barsanti. Harpsichordist Janet Palumbo will perform Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata #10, from the Essercizi, published in London in 1738. This volume contains 30 of Scarlatti’s sonatas for harpsichord, and these are the only ones, of the 520 sonatas he composed, that were published in his lifetime. Donna Fournier will be the featured soloist for two sets of elaborate variations, or divisions, as they were called in England, on the Italian Ground Bass—a brief harmonic progression that forms the substructure for many sets of variations composed during the Baroque period. Soprano Laura Heimes will perform airs from two Italian operas that were produced in London: Ariosti’s Vespasian and Bononcini’s Astartus. Chamber music arrangements of the most popular arias from these operas were published in London and were meant to allow smaller ensembles of musicians to perform these favorite songs in private house concerts. Ms. Heimes will also perform Pasquali’s cantata Celia and two settings of a text by the great Italian poet Metastasio. Some of the music on this program will be prepared from original sources in the Roan-Burkhalter collection of rare 17th-18th century music prints.
Soprano Laura Heimes has been praised for her “sumptuous tone and shimmering clarity” and has been a featured soloist in concerts from New York’s Carnegie Hall to California’s Carmel Bach Festival. She has taught at Westminster Choir College and Swarthmore and has recordings available on several labels. In addition to playing the recorder, John Burkhalter is a well-known lecturer on cultural history. Janet Palumbo, a founding member of the ensemble, has been featured on Brazilian national television. Donna Fournier performs on viola da gamba and baroque cello with several early music ensembles in the Philadelphia area. Le Triomphe de l’amour has recorded sonatas by Telemann and Boismortier, which are available on the Lyrichord and A Casa Disco labels.
Tickets may be purchased at the door for $20 general admission and $5 for students. For information, call (609) 252-0522 or visit the ensemble’s website at www.triomphebaroque.org. This concert is made possible in part by the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission through funding from the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/ Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment of the Arts.