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Carolus HACQUART (c1640 - 1701?): De triomfeerende min (The triumph of love)

Camerata Trajectina
Dir: Louis Peter Grijp

rec: August 2011, Bunnik, Oude Dorpskerk
Globe - GLO 6069 (© 2012) (52'20")
Liner-notes: E/N; lyrics - no translations
Cover & track-list

Carolus HACQUART: De triomfeerende min (The triumph of love) (1678); Servaas DE KONINK (1654-1701): De vryadje van Cloris en Roosje (The courtship of Cloris and Rosie) (1688) (exc); various (ed. Camerata Trajectina): De bruiloft van Kloris en Roosje (The wedding of Cloris and Rosie) (1706) (exc)

Renata Arends, Susan Jonker, MariŽt Kaasschieter, Hieke Meppelink, soprano; Talitha van der Spek, mezzo-soprano; Sytse Buwalda, alto; Bernard Loonen, Nico van der Meel, tenor; Jasper Schweppe, baritone; Frans Fiselier, bass; Saskia Coolen, recorder, viola da gamba; Pieter-Jan Belder, recorder, harpsichord; Peter Frankenberg, Gilberto Caserio, oboe; Frank Anepool, Mark Geelen, trumpet; Tomasz Wesolowski, bassoon; Annelies van der Vegt, Pieter Affourtit, violin; Erik Beijer, viola da gamba, violone, timpani; Constance Allanic, harp; Louis Peter Grijp, lute, zither; Emmanuel Frankenberg, whelk

The three pieces on this disc are specimens of music written for the theatre in the Netherlands in the baroque era. They are very different in character, though. The largest work, with music by Carolus Hacquart, was composed for the celebrations of the Peace of Nijmegen of 1678 which brought the war between France and the Netherlands to a close. It is not known whether it was ever performed in the form which the composer had in mind.

Hacquart was born in Bruges and educated in composition and the playing of the bass viol, the lute and the organ. He was one of the composers from the southern Netherlands who went north, where the Republic of the Seven United Provinces was experiencing its 'Golden Era'. He first worked in Amsterdam and then moved to The Hague where - at the instigation of the diplomat, poet and composer Constantijn Huygens - he had the opportunity to give concerts at the home of Prince Johan Maurits van Nassau. He also acted as organist in a hidden Roman-Catholic church; public worship was not allowed for Catholics at that time.

Huygens was impressed by Hacquart's music, and that had everything to do with his music for De triomfeerende min which was performed in The Hague, probably in a more modest setting than the composer had in mind. He called his piece, on a text of the poet Dirck Buysero (1644-1707), "a peace play, mixed with vocal and string music, stage machinery and dance". A large part of the text is spoken; one could compare this piece with the theatre music which we know from Henry Purcell. It begins with songs of praise on the peace and prosperity in the Republic before the war with France broke out. When the war begins young women are no longer willing to give themselves over to Love. Cupid can't accept that and approaches Mars. Before they get into a fight, Cupid's mother Venus intervenes and seduces Mars who then ceases hostilities. Peace returns and odes to peace are sung.

A performance of this piece poses various problems. First of all, the spoken text is probably not well suited to recording on CD; a staged performance on DVD with subtitles would be more appropriate. Therefore the spoken parts are omitted here. The libretto in the booklet includes some texts which explain the situation. Secondly, the score includes references to dances and interludes, but the music is not printed and may never have been written. For this recording music has been taken from one of Hacquart's main collections of instrumental music, Chelys, a set of suites for viola da gamba, printed in 1686. Here they are arranged for an instrumental ensemble which comprises a recorder, pairs of oboes, trumpets, violins and viols and basso continuo. In two cases music by other composers was used.

The two other pieces are completely different: comedies of a rather 'vulgar' character, reflecting the culture of the lower classes which is reflected in the way of singing. They remind me of the English comedies as they were recorded by The City Waites. The wedding of Cloris and Rosie is again to a text by Buysero, although other poets also contributed. It was called a 'rustic operetta', a 'farce with song and dance'. The music for this piece is mostly lost, apparently during a fire in the Amsterdam Theatre in 1772. This disc only includes those songs and dances which could be reconstructed. This operetta was in fact the sequel to a piece Buysero had written before, The courtship of Cloris and Rosie. The music was by Servaes de Konink, like Hacquart from the southern Netherlands and living in Amsterdam since 1685. Here he was mainly active as a player of incidental music in the theatre. His music for this play has for the most part been lost; the two pieces which are recorded here have again be reconstructed. These reconstructions are based on finds in the Dutch Song Database which has been a great help in this kind of reconstruction projects. It includes many texts and melodies of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The music on this disc is most enjoyable, certainly that by Hacquart. One can easily understand Constantijn Huygens' appreciation, which is confirmed by the collections with instrumental and vocal music by Hacquart. For Dutch-speaking listeners this is all easy to appreciate, but for those who don't understand Dutch it may be something of a challenge because the texts are not translated. The liner-notes certainly help, but can't fully compensate for the lack of translations. The music and the fine singing and playing make up for a lot, though. This disc also offers an opportunity to get to know an aspect of music history which is hardly known within the Netherlands let alone anywhere else.

Johan van Veen (© 2013)

Relevant links:

Camerata Trajectina

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