The Eastern Enlightenment: Carnegie Hosts Concert of Rediscovered Music from Catherine the Great's Court

Classic Arts News   The Eastern Enlightenment: Carnegie Hosts Concert of Rediscovered Music from Catherine the Great's Court
 
Just as the Russian empress Catherine the Great brought the finest architects and artists from Italy to adorn her imperial capital in St. Petersburg with magnificent buildings, paintings and sculpture, so she imported the late 18th century's finest Italian musicians — Domenico Cimarosa, Giovanni Paisiello, Baldassare Galuppi. Giuseppe Sarti and others — to serve as her court composers. Those men, in turn, trained the first generation of Russian composers to work in the Western classical style, musicians such as Dmitri Bortniansky and Maxim Berezovsky.

Some rare samples of this music — works never before performed outside Russia, some of which have gone unheard for two centuries — are on offer this evening in Manhattan as the Clarion Music Society presents "The Eastern Enlightenment: Russian Jewels from the Court of Catherine the Great" at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall.

Performing will be the soloists, chamber choir and chamber ensemble of the Clarion Music Society, the recently reborn period-instrument ensemble directed by Steven Fox, a young American who founded Russia's first period-instrument orchestra, Musica Antiqua St. Petersburg.

The program includes keyboard sonatas by Galuppi and Bortniansky, a string quartet by the German composer Anton Ferdinand Tietz, and selections from Bortniansky's French-language opera Le Fils rival and Yevstigney Fomin's Russian-language work Yamchiki na podstave ("The Coachmen at the Relay Station"). There will also be two examples, by Bortniansky and Berezovsky, of a particular Russian genre, the choral concerto — a cappella settings of sacred texts in Old Church Slavonic intended for concert performance.

In addition, the concert features a setting by Berezovsky of Psalm 51, arranged for choir and string quartet by Sarti. Fox discovered the manuscript for this work in London last year.

"The Eastern Enlightenment: Russian Jewels from the Court of Catherine the Great" begins at 8 p.m. at Weill Recital Hall, just to the left of Carnegie Hall's main entrance on West 57th Street. More information is available at www.clarionmusic.org.

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