British violinist Daniel Hope is now one of the most distinctive musicians on stage. Passionate about the violin repertoire, he created not a canonical but an interactive and fascinating concert of classical music, where musicians revived old tunes. Before each composition, Daniel Hope told a short narrative story about its composer with non-trivial and not stereotyped facts.
All the concert was inventive first of all, and the musicians started their performance unconventionally. The percussionist Michael Metzler was the first to start, and he did it moving through the audience hall. When he reached the stage, harpsichord joined the tune to play the piece of music by Spanish composer Diego Ortiz being employed in the service of Philipp II, King of Spain. It was Ortiz who created the new kindof music improvisation, the so-called Viola Bastarda. The other musicians of the band were coming onto the stage one by one, catching-up the tune. The last one who appeared on stage was Daniel Hope. Odessans welcomed their favourite violinist with astorm of applause.
What’s the secret of Daniel Hope’s popularity? It is based not only on his versatile talent, inimitable technique, and incomparable execution but on the radiant inner world of musician, his ideal musical intelligence and immense sensitivity he uses his skills with.
My dear reader, let’s have our thrilling journey together with Daniel Hope and his band of extremely dangerous musicians.
Germany. Sarabande by Georg Friedrich Händel.
Sarabande. What a beautiful and passionate word! That’s the name of an old-time Spanish dance, first mentioned in the 16thcentury. Originally it was very lively, with couples hugging while dancing to the strains of drums and restless castanets, sothe Catholic Church thought it indecent and tried to ban Sarabande completely, but failed. So, with time, easy tunes in major keys were changed to minor ones, to make the dance more slow and puritan.
Continuing the journey through Germany, Daniel Hope introduced us the composer from the late 17th century, Johann Paul von Westhoff. Sad to say, his works are neglected by musicians and unknown to a broad audience of music lovers. He was highly esteemed among his contemporaries, includingyoung Johann Sebastian Bach, who was astonished and admired the composer.
German composer Johann Paul von Westhoff found a way to create “imitazione delle Campane”, imitation of church bells, in his music. He was admitted to the French royal court of Louis XIV and glorified the royal victories in his works. The king of France was so fond of Westhoff’s works, that he couldn’t fall asleep unless the musician played his compositions.
During his professional life Westhoff got to be a military musician too. At war, a signal to attack was usually given by a trumpeter, and a drummer defined soldiers’ pace by playing his rhythm. That’s why the musicians have always been the first target.
Absolutely modern music; it seems as if such composers as Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass are drawing their inspiration from him.
Italian composer Nicola Matteis travelled a lot across Europe in search of melodies and rhythms, and he found them mainly in pubs, taverns, restaurants. The musician got based in London, where he won the audience with his virtuoso and skillful performance. But the search for drinking songs affected his health badly: he died young from liver cirrhosis. Matteis was said to play the violin in such a speedy manner that wind was wakened, and it was easy to catch cold during his performances.“I don’t want you to get cold tonight, so let’s listen to the beautiful music”, Daniel Hope added.
The next Italian was Vivaldi.
Music by Antonio Vivaldi was thought revolutionary and rathercrazy for its time. The tune “La Folia”, which means“Madness”, was the first composition written by the greatItalian.
“ But the theme doesn’t sound very crazy”, Daniel said. “And the interesting thing is what Vivaldi makes from this very simple theme. You will hear variations based on this theme, which are really crazy”.
Flows of energy from stage made the audience want to fly or to faint, but at the same time, to hold their breath not to miss a second of this vibrant performance. We could almost physically feel the wave of passion, covering us, sparkling around, like champagne, touching heart of every person in the hall.
A string broke while Daniel was performing. Virtuoso pianist Paganini got into the same situation so many times in his life, that it inspired him to create a composition for two strings.
Daniel Hope included into the program a well-known English song of 16th century, Greensleeves, which was considered asrather frivolous. This expression used to be quite an offence for a lady, as it was hinting at grass stains left on lady’s outfit after engaging in love affairs outdoors.
By the way, there is a belief that the song was composed by Henry VIII while he was courting Anne Boleyn. This tune wasmentioned in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Coming back to Italy, let’s meet the composer Andrea Falconieri, who was a famous ladies’ man. He had affairs with hundreds of women; most of them were married and usually gave him money taken from their husbands. So, the composer had to flee to avoid the angry cuckolded husbands. Falconieriused his music to seduce women.
To avoid his enemies, the composer found shelter in Spain under the auspices of King Philipp II. Falconieri died of the plague, but he left us his seducing music.
It was amazing to watch the interaction between musicians thathad constant visual contact with each other, were witty and jolly; once they actually swapped their instruments during performance. Even their playful peacockery looked adorably. Because the MUSIC reigned supreme. The sounds were open and beautiful, without a trace of classic pathos.
Before the last part of the concert, Daniel Hope said how happy he was, how thankful for possibility to perform for live audience. It has happened for the first time in recent months. Both organizers of festival and its audience showed unbelievable courage, Hope pointed out.
Audience didn’t let the musicians go for a long time, and they’d rather not, as Hope shared. However there are some limitations created by the situation we have nowadays. Understanding that the time to go off had come, the musicians performed suite No 3 by J.S. Bach, and dedicated it to the prominent people of our city, such as David Oistrakh, Emil Gilels, Sviatoslav Richter, and last but not least, our outstanding mentor Pyotr Stolyarskiy.
text Olesia Baglukova
foto Nikolay Vdovenko and Dmitry Skvortsov