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Fête d’Eté Program Notes

For our Fête d’Eté program we have assembled a choice collection of late 17th- and 18th-century French music by some of its greatest practitioners. The songs and cantatas we have selected are pastoral for the most part and fit the title of our program beautifully. Even the instrumentals feel at home in a summery Arcadian context. This is all very much a part of the esthetic of French music in the 18th century. Yet another theme that will become apparent in our traversal of this material is that French style is in constant dialogue and sometimes competition with Italian style during this period. Morel’s Chaconne with which we begin, the songs by Le Camus, and the hypnotic Sonnerie by Marais are pretty much French in style, but almost all of the other music on this program is influenced in one way or another by Italian taste. Many of our composers strove to integrate the two national tastes in their own individual ways. And in the new galant style of the middle of the century, we do see the beginnings of a way of composing that develops rapidly into the international classical style. We will conclude the program with a piece that demonstrates this clearly. There is a lot of variety in our selections this evening, from ornate, highly decorated, and complex to gracefully simple and natural. In all of this music, however, the insistence of 18th-century musicians on the primary importance of good taste is readily apparent.

Folger Consort

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