a voice and a cornetto entwined
Hana Blažíková - soprano & Bruce Dickey – cornetto
Monica Huggett, Tekla Cunningham - violins
Joanna Blendulf - viola da gamba
Michael Sponseller – organ and harpsichord
Stephen Stubbs - theorbo
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the cornetto was fabled for its astonishing ability to imitate the human voice. This imitation encompassed not only its clear and bright sound, but also its agility, expressive range, dynamic flexibility, and articulation, which could make it sound almost as though the player were speaking through his instrument. Our program, which puts this imitation center stage, is called “breathtaking” both because the voice and the cornetto literally make music with the breath, and because the imitation, we hope, can figuratively take the listener’s breath away. The young Czech soprano, Hana Blažíková, described as “one of the most exciting voices in the baroque scene today” here joins Bruce Dickey, “the preeminent cornetto virtuoso of our epoch," in celebrating this instrumental-vocal prairing!
Our program begins at the turn of the 17th century, when the cornetto was at the absolute summit of its development. Both singers and cornettists were expected to be astonishing improvisers, and while singers took the lead in defining the style of ornamentation (even called gorgie for the use of the throat in articulating the quick notes), cornettists were famed for their embellishments as well. This virtuoso ornamentation soon found its way into solo music in the new style with basso continuo as well. In these pieces cornettists would have carried on a musical conversation with singers, constantly imitating and echoing their musical phrases and their embellishments so that the voice and the instrument seem “entwined!"
The third part of our program explores the final phase of this story. At the very end of the 17th century, especially in Rome and Naples, the cornetto enjoyed a late flowering, playing obbligato parts of often astounding difficulty in operas and oratorios by such composers as Alessandro Scarlatti, Giovanni Battista Bononcini and Giacomo Antonio Perti. It is literally the last breath of the cornetto!
In between these groups of pieces which frame the 17th century, we have asked renowned Greek composer Calliope Tsoupaki to write a new work exploring the commonality of the cornetto and the voice. This new composition will set the text Nigra sum sed formosa, already heard on the program in settings by Victoria and Tarquinio Merula.
Maurizio Cazzati (1616 - 1678)
Nicolò Corradini (? - 1646)
Biagio Marini (1594 - 1663)
Sonata seconda a doi violini
Sigismondo D'India (c1582 - 1629)
Langue al vostro languir
Giovanni Battista Fontana
Sonata 11 a 2
Tarquinio Merula (c 1594 - 1665)
Giacomo Carissimi (1605-1674)
Summi regis puerpera
I N T E R V A L
Calliope Tsoupaki (1963 - )
Mélena imí (Nigra sum), 2015
Gio. Battista Bassani (c1650 - 1716)
Three arias from La Morte Delusa (Ferrara, 1680):
Sinfonia avanti l'Oratorio
Se spende in un seno
Error senza dolor
Sonata prima a 3, Op. 5
Alessandro Scarlatti (1660 - 1725)
Three arias from Emireno (Naples, 1697):
Rosinda: Non pianger solo dolce usignuolo
Rosinda: Senti, senti ch'io moro
Emireno: Labbra gradite
Hana Blažíková, soprano
The Czech soprano, Hana Blažíková, studied at the conservatory with Professor Jiří Kotouč, graduating in 2002. She also studied musicplogy and philosophy at the University of Karlovy and Prague. She also plays on the harp. At present, she specializes in the interpretation of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music. She has also taken part in interpretation courses with Poppy Holden, Peter Kooy, Monika Mauch and Howard Crook. Hana Blažíková collaborates with various chamber ensembles, such as Sette Voci, Capella Regia, Collegium Marianum, Quodlibet Jiřího Stivína, Musica Florea, Collegium 1704, etc. She often gives concerts abroad, for example, in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. She has appeared at many international festivals, such as the Prague Spring 2004 and 2005, Oude Muziek in Utrecht in 2005, Resonanzen in Vienna in 2006, etc. In 2004, she sang the role of Susana in W.A. Mozart's opera La Nozze di Figaro at the Karlovy Vary Theater, and in the summer of 2005 she appeared as Zerlina in W.A. Mozart's Don Giovanni in the summer scene "Mozart Opera" at the Estates Theater. She was a member of the ensemble Collegium Vocale 1704, with which she took part in the Bach - Prague 2005 (such as the Mass in B minor (BWV 232) at the Prague Spring 2005, Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) in the Symphony Orchestra cycle). She has also sung with ensembles as Collegium Vocale Gent, Bach Collegium Japan (Director: Masaaki Suzuki), and Tafelmusik.
Bruce Dickey, cornetto
Bruce Dickey is one of a handful of musicians worldwide who have dedicated themselves to reviving the cornetto - once an instrument of great virtuosi, but which lamentably fell into disuse in the 19th century. The revival began in the 1950s, but it was largely Bruce Dickey, who, from the late 1970s, created a new renaissance of the instrument, allowing the agility and expressive power of the cornetto to be heard once again. His many students, over more than 30 years of teaching at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, have helped to consolidate and elevate the status of this once forgotten instrument. For his achievements the Historic Brass Society awarded him in 2000 the prestigious Christopher Monk Award for "his monumental work in cornetto performance, historical performance practice and musicological scholarship." In 2007 he was honored by British conductor and musicologist Andrew Parrott with a “Taverner Award” as one of 14 musicians whose “significant contributions to musical understanding have been motivated by neither commerce nor ego.”
In the course of his long career as a performer and recording artist he has worked with most of the leading figures in the field of early music, including the legendary pioneers of historically informed perfomance, Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Brüggen and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He was a member for over ten years of Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XX , and has frequently and repeatedly collaborated wth Ton Koopman, Monica Huggett, Philippe Herreweghe and many others. Of special importance has been his long-time friendship and collaboration with Andrew Parrott, and in more recent years with Konrad Junghänel.
Bruce Dickey can be heard on countless recordings. His solo CD ("Quel lascivissimo cornetto...") on Accent with the ensemble Tragicomedia was awarded the Diapason d’or. His second solo CD, entitled “La Bella Minuta”, has just been released on the Passacaille label.
In addition to performing, Bruce Dickey is much in demand as a teacher, both of the cornetto and of seventeenth-century performance practice. In addition to his regular class at the Schola Cantorum he has taught at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, as well as master classes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. He is also active in research on performance practice, and has published, together with Michael Collver, a catalog of the surviving cornetto repertoire, and, together with trumpeter Edward Tarr, a book on historical wind articulation. In 1997, together with his wife Candace Smith, he founded Artemisia Editions, a small publishing house which produces editions of music from17th-century Italian convents.
Stephen Stubbs, who won the GRAMMY Award as conductor for Best Opera Recording 2015, spent a 30-year career in Europe. He returned to his native Seattle in 2006 as one of the world’s most respected lutenists, conductors, and baroque opera specialists and in 2014 was awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award for ‘Raising the Bar’ in Seattle. Before his return, he was based in Bremen, Germany, where he was Professor at the Hochschule für Künste.
Monica Huggett, violin