CONCERT PREVIEW Baroque & Beyond – Dresden’s Golden Age
Sunday, March 10, 2019 at 3:00 pm
Chapel of the Cross, 304 E. Franklin St, Chapel Hill
Dresden enjoyed an unparalleled musical life in the early and mid-eighteenth century, rivaling the cultural force of Louis XIV of France. Music was written for and performed by the finest players in Europe. From Dresden’s musical archives comes a program of music arranged for two harpsichords, intended to be played by the king and his court composer. This program features two ‘quartets’ by Pleyel and one by Haydn, performed by harpsichord duo Elaine Funaro and Beverly Biggs.
The musical archive was discovered by the duo a few years ago when they were researching a score they had discovered online for a Haydn keyboard concerto that had been arranged during the period for harpsichord duo. This score resided in the archives of Dresden’s state library and turned out to be from a collection of music created during the reign of Friedrich August I after he became king of Saxony. He previously had been known as Friedrich III when he was Elector of Saxony and there is understandable confusion in referring to him. His grandfather was known as August the Strong – he and his son (Elector Friedrich II) were responsible for developing Dresden into a major cultural center. Our Friedrich continued this tradition, although the military and cultural might of Saxony was declining by the time of his reign.
King Friedrich Augustus I (who reigned from 1806-1827) was a musician, albeit a shy one. There is some question about whether he even performed for his family, but he certainly did play harpsichord duos with his court composer Peter August. Peter August composed two-harpsichord sonatas and also arranged some of the most popular music of the day for harpsichord duo. This archive includes lovely works by Ignace Pleyel, who was very popular in Europe during his era.
Dresden’s Golden Age features works by Pleyel and Haydn. Pleyel (1757-1831) was an Austrian-born French composer and piano builder. In 1772 he became the pupil of Joseph Haydn in Eisenstadt. Pleyel had a close relationship with Haydn, who considered him to be a superb student. The music of both composers is strongly represented in the Dresden collection.
Elaine Funaro & Beverly Biggs have been performing as a harpsichord duo for more than a decade. Their early training overlapped in two important ways; both received degrees from Oberlin and both studied in The Netherlands with the late Gustav Leonhardt, esteemed as one of the finest harpsichord teachers in the world. They play on a matched set of French double manual harpsichords, copies of the 1769 Taskin owned by Yale University. Elaine’s instrument was made in 1976 by William Dowd. Bev’s instrument was made in 1972 by David Dutton.
Their long collaboration has included performances of baroque, early classical, and contemporary music for two harpsichords in concerts in North Carolina and adjoining states, other parts of the United States, and abroad. They have premiered long-lost baroque and classical works at national and international conferences, as well as given world premieres of newly-composed music. A CD of contemporary music for one, two, and three harpsichords was released in 2017 under the title uno, due, tre. It was selected as a Critics Choice 2018 CD by the American Record Guild.
Individually, Elainehas premiered pieces on five continents including concerts in Amsterdam, Rome, Sydney, Boston, Hong Kong and Tokyo. In addition to her solo recitals at the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress, she has been a frequent collaborator with symphonies and chamber ensembles. Her appearances often present modern compositions in the context of old and new musical traditions from around the world, yet her impassioned solo and chamber interpretations of traditional scores for her instrument remain a core element in an exceptionally active career. Elaine Funaro has recorded for Arabesque, Centaur, Gasparo, Wildboar, and Classic Concert.
Bev is a freelance harpsichordist and Artistic Director of Baroque & Beyond.She performs as a member of the continuo team for the North Carolina Symphony, the North Carolina Bach Festival, NC Baroque Orchestra, and other groups. As the director of Baroque & Beyond, she produces the NC Triangle-based series and also tours with early music colleagues, playing concerts around the region. She was based for many years in Spokane, Washington, where she performed 60-80 concerts a year, toured in the U.S. and Canada, and served as founding artistic director of two period music organizations, Connoisseur Concerts and Allegro. She is featured as a soloist and collaborative musician on recordings with Bravura Discs, Aliénor Records, and Arabesque.
Tickets for Dresden’s Golden Age ($18) are available in advance from Preservation Chapel Hill at 919-942-7818 or https://www.preservationchapelhill.org/baroque-beyond. Tickets will also be available at the door. The concert venue is the historic chapel at Chapel of the Cross, 304 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. Suggested parking in the adjacent Planetarium parking lot or a nearby Rosemary Street parking deck.