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Jeff Spurgeon: Welcome to a broadcast from Carnegie Hall Live. Tonight, a festival of Baroque music from the Canadian ensemble named for the great string ensemble in the court of the French kings of the Baroque era, Les Violons du Roy, or in English, The King's Violins. And, leading this broadcast tonight, I'm Jeff Spurgeon, alongside John Schaefer.
John Schaefer: And we are in Carnegie's mid-size hall, Zankel Hall, tonight. It's um it's the Goldilocks Hall for Baroque music. You know, Weill Recital Hall, too small. Perhaps the big hall, the Isaac Stern Auditorium, a little big for the kind of intimacy of Baroque music. Especially given that we have a solo guitarist, Miloš, joining Les Violons du Roy.
But the ensemble will fill Zankel Hall with Baroque music tonight. The group called Les Violons du Roy was formed in the beautiful city of Quebec in 1984, by the conductor Bernard Labadie, he led that ensemble for decades, and then just a few years ago, Labadie passed the reins of the ensemble over to Jonathan Cohen, who is going to lead tonight's concert.
Jeff Spurgeon: And Cohen is a triple threat for sure, a conductor, cellist, he's going to be at the harpsichord tonight, so not really conducting as much as leading this ensemble, uh, and uh, in addition to working with Les Violons du Roy, Cohen is also the new Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society, that esteemed organization in Boston.
And he continues his role as the Artistic Director of the English Baroque ensemble he founded a few years ago called Arcangelo. Jonathan Cohen studied with the renowned conductor William Christie, who gave him a deeper connection to the music of the era that we are going to hear tonight.
Jonathan Cohen: And I love the idea that there's a lot of improvisation that's involved in Baroque music. You know, especially when you play the harpsichord, or what we call the continuo. Essentially we have the bass line and then we make up the harmonies, you know, in accordance with the other parts. And then we extemporize, we make stuff up. And in Baroque music, you know, there's very little that's written down. Like in later music, you know, if you look at Mahler's symphonies or something, he writes a lot of detail about how loud you should play and how fast and how, and what, you know, whether notes should be short or long. And in the Baroque period, a little bit, it's all up for grabs, and I suppose that's what drew me to it. The dance element of it and the free nature of it, the creative nature of it. You have to make the music really in the moment, and that's why I love Baroque music particularly.
John Schaefer: Jonathan Cohen will be leading an entire program of Baroque music with Les Violons du Roy on stage at Carnegie's Zankel Hall, and we'll hear such favorites as Bach and Vivaldi, Telemann, and several others. And, uh, as we mentioned, there is a special guest joining the, uh, the strings tonight, the guitarist known by just his first name, Miloš. Of course, he has a last name, uh, Karadaglicz, which literally means Man from Montenegro, and Miloš was born in Montenegro in 1983, so he is one year older than Les Violons du Roy.
He studied in London at the Royal Academy of Music, and he is now one of the most celebrated guitarists in the world. And Jeff, you mentioned Jonathan Cohen's other band, Arcangelo. Miloš recorded an album called Baroque, featuring a lot of the music we'll be hearing, with Jonathan Cohen and that band.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, that's a part of the program tonight, in addition to some works supplied individually by, uh, the ensemble Les Violons du Roy as well. Miloš has appeared with orchestras all over the world, the Atlanta, Detroit Symphonies in this country. He's a big supporter of music education, recently launched his own foundation based in Porto Montenegro, supporting a variety of educational opportunities and partnerships and mentorships.
And, uh, we have a minute or so as you hear the musicians warming up backstage. John, you had a chance to talk to Miloš just a day or two ago.
John Schaefer: He came down to our studios and I was interested in this Baroque project because, of course, the modern classical guitar did not exist as we know it back in Baroque times. So this was an example of Miloš getting into a style of music that his instrument was not specifically built for and he told us about how he felt he connected to the Baroque era.
Miloš: A Baroque period is such an extraordinary period because it's a treasure chest of, uh, jewels. And discovering them and the uniqueness of each and every one of them is so engaging, intoxicating. It's, uh, music that, uh, becomes part of you in this almost enchanting way.
John Schaefer: That is Miloš, the guitarist, who is, uh, really one of the superstars in the classical guitar world these days. Has recorded an album of Beatles songs arranged for classical guitar, Romantic music written, of course, for the classical guitar, and in the case of these Baroque pieces, Jeff, a kind of a transcription or an arrangement of music that would have been written for other types of string instruments.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, some of the arrangements Miloš has made, some were made by his teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, so there are lots of really well informed individuals. Uh, to have created the music that we're about to hear on this concert, which is about to begin. And it will start without Miloš, but instead with Les Violons du Roy, and, uh, work by Antonio Vivaldi, a Sinfonia from his opera, L'Olimpiade. This is an opera whose libretto was written by Marestasio. This opera was set by literally dozens, like 60, 70 composers, grabbed this same libretto and set it. Vivaldi did as well. His version was first performed in 1734 at the Carnival in Venice. The plot is set at the ancient Olympics and it's about a couple of couples who've been torn apart by their parents. They don't like who they're marrying. There's a Lifetime movie on every night of the week about this plot, but, but tonight you get Vivaldi's version of it, uh, in this Sinfonia. After some twists and turns, the couples are all reunited, so it does get straightened out at the end.
John Schaefer: And we should probably just mention, in this case, the word Sinfonia does not imply a symphony. It's simply, uh, an overture of sorts.
Jeff Spurgeon: An overture, an entracte, a piece of set up music for the drama that's about to come.
John Schaefer: And we have, uh, an unusual kind of, uh, set up to this concert. It's not your traditional orchestra with soloist. Uh, the, the concert will go back and forth between pieces by Les Violons du Roy, and pieces by Miloš, and pieces with the two of them together. Uh, we just happen to be starting with a piece that will feature only the string ensemble. And, um, we'll have a chance to hear Miloš joining Les Violons du Roy when we get to the second piece in the program. But the applause that you hear is for this Quebec based Early Music Ensemble as they file onto the stage here at Zankel Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: You've been hearing them tune backstage because they've been standing next to John and me as we are sitting backstage. So the, uh, 14 members of the ensemble are, uh, out on Zankel Hall now. And, uh, and we're getting ready for this Vivaldi Sinfonia from L'Olimpiade to begin this concert that comes to you from Carnegie Hall Live.
VIVALDI: Sinfonia from L'Olimpiade
John Schaefer: That's music by Vivaldi, the Sinfonia from his opera L'Olimpiade, performed by members of Les Violons du Roy from Quebec, conducted by Jonathan Cohen, on stage here at Carnegie's Zankel Hall with, uh, Cohen conducting from the harpsichord. Jeff, a two manual harpsichord, so one keyboard above the other, which, uh, one, one keyboard of which has that kind of lute sound that we heard in that piece.
Jeff Spurgeon: Allows you to alter the instrument's, uh, timbre a little bit.
John Schaefer: Interesting, if you've never seen a harpsichord up close, the white and black keys are reversed from what you're familiar with on a piano. So the black keys on a piano are white on the harpsichord and vice versa. Cosmetic difference, there are some other more important differences that maybe we can talk to Jonathan Cohen about later on in the program, but he is back out on stage, now accompanied by the guitarist Miloš to perform an arrangement of music by Marcello. And if people know that name, it's from from this piece.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yes, it's a famous oboe concerto. It's been adapted for other instruments. This is an adaptation of the Larghetto movement from that work for the guitar and now Miloš on stage joins Les Violons du Roy and conductor Jonathan Cohen from Carnegie Hall Live.
MARCELLO: Adagio from Oboe Concerto in D Minor
BOCCHERINI: Fandango from Guitar Quintet in D Major, G. 448
John Schaefer: That is a Fandango from Luigi Boccherini, one of the rare Baroque composers who did write music for some form of guitar. That Fandango was originally from the Guitar Quintet in D, but we've heard a live performance by Les Violons du Roy, 14 strings rather than the original four. and Miloš playing the contemporary version of the guitar.
Prior to that, we heard some music from Marcello's Oboe Concerto in D minor, the slow movement.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, not the, not a, not a larghetto, but instead an adagio. So, uh, those of you who are looking it up. And, uh, now this concert is going to continue, but the members of Les Violons du Roy have left the stage. Well, frankly, so has Miloš, so there's nobody there now.
But we have something very special, uh, coming up from Miloš in this portion of the concert. Quite a famous work.
John Schaefer: Well, in fact, one of the pinnacles of the Western violin repertoire, the great Chaconne by Johann Sebastian Bach, which Miloš has arranged for classical guitar, and he told us why he wanted to play this piece.
Miloš: Because it's the greatest piece of instrumental music, full stop. The moment you sit there and you start playing that piece, something happens. And it is so powerful. Because it's so iconic on the violin. On the guitar, it becomes something else. And while on the guitar, maybe you don't have that sort of carnal intensity of the bow and and the pressure of the bow and the strings of the violin, you have more means of expression, maybe, more color, more opportunity to find a unique interpretation of that piece because there is no right or wrong, there is just true.
Jeff Spurgeon: I love that quotation from Miloš. Isn't that something? There's no right or wrong, there's just true.
John Schaefer: Right.
Jeff Spurgeon: Ah, what a wonderful, uh, description of the power of the interpreter in this music, because Bach wrote the piece out for violin, very few markings on it, and so it really is up to the performer, and in this case, the transcriber and performer. Miloš made this transcription that he's about to play for us as well.
John Schaefer: You know, one of the interesting things about this is, of course, the guitar is a chordal instrument, and Bach has a lot of implied harmonies. So, as a guitarist, you can begin to fill in those harmonies, and I asked Miloš about that, and he pointed to Segovia, who used things like seventh chords, which he didn't think Bach would have used.
Jeff Spurgeon: Right.
John Schaefer: So, there was some restraint involved in this interpretation, which we will now hear. The great Chaconne by Bach, arranged and performed by Miloš on classical guitar from Carnegie Hall Live.
J.S. BACH: Chaconne from Violin Partita No. 2 in D Minor
Jeff Spurgeon: From Carnegie's Zankel Hall, you've just heard guitarist Miloš and his own transcription of the Chaconne for violin by J. S. Bach. What was it Miloš said? Just one of the greatest pieces of instrumental music. Full stop.
John Schaefer: Full stop. And what an arrangement. Daring, ambitious, technically improbable,
Jeff Spurgeon: And also simple, not overdone. All of the purity of the violin lines allowed to shine through with enough of the, as you said, the implied harmony exposed because of the multiple strings on the guitar. That's a remarkable work and a remarkable performance.
John Schaefer: Miloš doing his arrangement of the Bach Chaconne originally from the Violin Partita Number two in D minor, and in a minute, the ensemble, the Les Violons du Roy, will return to the stage here at Zankel with their music director, Jonathan Cohen, and, uh, Cohen said this about Bach and the adaptability of the music he just heard.
Jonathan Cohen: Bach himself was a, was a great arranger of music, you know, music concertos for the keyboard put on oboe and violin and moving around. So I think it's something particularly authentic to, and you know, especially with Bach's music, it works very well. You could play it on the, on any instrument really because the, the integrity of the music is so, so strong. The guitar, particularly, as Miloš plays it anyway, has a, has a very intimate atmosphere, I think, and he really creates this environment which draws people into rather a very intimate experience. So I think that will very much suit this particular piece.
John Schaefer: Jonathan Cohen, the director of Les Violon du Roy, talking about Miloš and his arrangement of Bach, and now Jonathan Cohen and the rest of the ensemble are back out on stage here at Zankel Hall. To wrap up the first half with music by Handel, it's the Concerto Grosso in A Minor, Op. 6, No. 4, from Carnegie Hall Live.
HANDEL: Concerto Grosso in A Minor, Op. 6, No. 4
John Schaefer: That is the group Les Violons du Roy, the King's Violins, from Quebec, conducted by Jonathan Cohen and a Concerto Grosso by George Frederick Handel. The Concerto Grosso in A minor, to be, uh, to be totally scorekeeping about it, Opus 6, Number 4. And, uh, Jeff, um, Jonathan Cohen had told us earlier in the broadcast about how he loved the dance element of Baroque music.
Jeff Spurgeon: Oh, it's all over, all over the dance forms. If you can't play Bach and dance, you don't have the right tempo. And you could say that for so much of Handel's music and for so much of the work of the other great composers from this Baroque era, roughly 1600 to the middle of the 18th century. The whole genre is filled with dancing and so that feel is essential to this kind of music.
John Schaefer: And we certainly heard it in evidence in that Concerto Grosso by Handel, I mean really leaning and almost swinging in the final movement.
Jeff Spurgeon: Right, it's not swing as we maybe think of it today, but certainly it is in the style of its time. So the 15 member ensemble now having left the stage, we should mention too that if you're picturing these musicians comfortably seated, well, they're not, except for the cellists and, uh, the harpsichordist. Everyone else is on his or her feet, uh, a more typical, uh, performance style, uh, more correct in the, in the way that, uh, the original Les Violons du Roy would have performed.
John Schaefer: And we are at Zankel Hall tonight for this live broadcast from Carnegie Hall Live, and that's the end of the first half. The second half will include music by Telemann, Rameau, Henry Purcell, Vivaldi again, and, uh, some music by Silvius Leopold Weiss, who, if you recognize the name, you are probably a guitarist. Uh, very fine lute player and lute composer of the Baroque era, whose music guitarists have been mining for many years, and we'll hear Miloš doing some of that in the second half of the program.
Jeff Spurgeon: This is Classical New York, 105. 9 FM at HD, WQXR, Newark, and 90. 3 FM, WQXW, Ossining.
Backstage at Zankel Hall, I'm Jeff Spurgeon alongside John Schaefer, and we have been joined by one of the members of Les Violons du Roy, their principal violist, Isaac Chalk. Thank you for spending a little of your intermission time with us.
Isaac Chalk: Of course, thanks for having me.
Jeff Spurgeon: What would you be doing norm if you weren't wasting your time with us? What would you be doing? Out for a cigarette?
Isaac Chalk: Undoubtedly wasting my time doing something else. But, uh, you know, probably just sitting down having a glass of water. It's not so long, the intermission.
It seems long. I think when you see a concert, it's not very long when you're playing. That's it.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yes, the time flies a little more quickly back here. How long have you been with Les Violons du Roy?
Isaac Chalk: Uh, it's been ten years now. This is the, well actually this is my, the beginning of my, or rather the middle of my eleventh season.
Yeah, it's been a little while.
Jeff Spurgeon: Right. What um, what makes this ensemble special? You guys use typical violins but baroque bows. So what's going on here?
Isaac Chalk: Yeah, there's sort of a, I guess it's a kind of hybrid approach. Um, I, I, basically I think how the way you described it is right. I mean that's the sort of obvious technical thing about it.
I think there's a, there's a kind of approach that's been, you know, based on a style of performance that's been become more and more popular in the last, I guess, nearly 70 years or 80 years even. So, but, uh, yeah, basically we've tried to play in a style that, you know, is at least, uh, trying to be historical, or sort of inspired by historical performance.
Jeff Spurgeon: But you're not super strict about it?
Isaac Chalk: No, I mean, we're not super strict about it, and we don't use, uh, period instruments.
John Schaefer: You don't use gut strings?
Isaac Chalk: We don't use, I mean, some of us do use gut strings, but
John Schaefer: Do you really?
Isaac Chalk: Yeah, but it's, it's sort of, it's not really, I guess, the sort of signature of the group.
John Schaefer: Yeah. How long, uh, did, so you, you, ten years means that you've worked with Bernard Labadie when he was…
Isaac Chalk: I did. Actually, sort of amusingly, he announced that he was stopping when I started, so it might have been my fault. I don't think I had a single, or I mean, I think my first season, I think he still might have officially been the Artistic Director, but he was sort of stepping down and, and he was ill, of course.
John Schaefer: So how did you get into the, uh, the whole period instrument practice?
Isaac Chalk: Uh, so out of interest, uh, mostly, I didn't really study it in school very seriously, but I kind of, you know, studied it on my own, let's say, and got interested in the style and the sort of approach, which I think there's something attractive about, about it basically from an intellectual perspective, and I think the expressive results are, um, You know, obvious.
Jeff Spurgeon: And when you said the word about just now, I think that that was enough indication for most of us that you are a native of Canada.
Isaac Chalk: Yes, I am indeed.
Jeff Spurgeon: Right. So, uh, yeah, tell us a little bit about that.
Isaac Chalk: Well, native can actually, I, I moved around a lot when I was a kid, but we, we ended up in Montreal and I was four. Uh, I lived briefly in Minnesota. Some people claim that they can hear that too, . Um, and uh, I was born actually in, uh, England, in Oxford, but, uh, uh, other than I grew up in Montreal, went to school in French, and so.
John Schaefer: And the ensemble is based in Quebec.
Isaac Chalk: In Quebec City, that's right.
John Schaefer: For folks who haven't been, it's essentially a walled European city here in North America.
Isaac Chalk: Absolutely, I mean it's over 400 years old, I mean parts of it at least. And, uh, it's, it is a, it's sort of a bit of a cliche that it's a beautiful city, but it is true . Yes. Um, uh, it's also, uh, I researched recently, I think it's the coldest city of its size in the world, actually. Um, it's, uh, really, uh, pretty arid. Uh, the winter is pretty rough.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's important to be famous for something. Yeah. But I think even more than the weather, this orchestra has, uh, made a wonderful mark on Quebec. And on music from Canada. Can you tell us about working with, with Miloš? How much time have you spent with him in putting these pieces together?
Isaac Chalk: Uh, not a whole lot actually. Um, but, uh, we did, uh, start this week with him, uh, on, uh, Monday to, we had a concert last night in Quebec City. Um, and uh, yeah, it's been a real pleasure. I mean, he's, it's, he's, you know, he, he's a pro . It's, it's, uh, yeah, it's, it's been great.
Jeff Spurgeon: So, so he sits in and sits in and fits in.
Isaac Chalk: Basically.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah. Yeah. Wonderful. Yeah. You've been a singer. Are you still?
Isaac Chalk: Uh, not really, no. I haven't sung professionally for a very long time now. But, uh, my family will tell me that, you know, I'm always sort of humming and noodling, it's a bit irritating apparently, but, uh, yeah, it's, uh, it's part of it. I grew up doing it, it's hard to lose the habit, let's say.
John Schaefer: Well, now you make your viola sing instead. That's,
Isaac Chalk: yeah, hopefully, yeah.
John Schaefer: Um, it's a somewhat unusual program, isn't it? The way it goes back and forth from the ensemble to the Miloš solo to the two coming together.
Jeff Spurgeon: Does that, does that affect your, your, your sense of momentum, because you have to come on and off?
Isaac Chalk: It's a bit of a strange rhythm, but, uh, it's kind of nice. I think it, uh, it gives a good variety, actually, to, even just sonically, you know, there's a lot of, it's a pretty big [inaudible], so I think it's nice to have, uh, this kind of variety. I think that, actually, the repertoire is, although it's all basically from the same period, it's quite varied, and you see the Telemann in the second half is, it's actually a wonderful piece, one of the, uh, nicer pieces by Telemann than I've played.
Jeff Spurgeon: There are a lot of pieces by Telemann.
Isaac Chalk: There are indeed.
Jeff Spurgeon: You haven't, nobody's played them all. No. I think people have maybe played all of Bach.
Isaac Chalk: I'm becoming more and more convinced though by Telemann.
Jeff Spurgeon: Right, right. He just picked up influences from everywhere and threw everything into that music. Well, what has been the special part of, of Les Violons du Roy? Because you do kind of move between period performance world, maybe a little less historically informed, and you've done an enormous variety of music over the years.
Isaac Chalk: Yeah, I think for, for me at least, the, the programs that we do, that, uh, I find sort of the most interesting and the most memorable is when we do, uh, mix styles. Uh, we, we'll do a concert, let's, I'm trying to think of an example, we'll, we'll do Rameau and, and Purcell in the first half, and, uh, Britton and Arvo Pärt in the second half. And I think these actually it's, it's one of the, you know, if we can sort of brag about ourselves, it's one of the things that this orchestra can do that I think not a lot of orchestras can do quite well, and, um, I think these are, these can be very memorable programs. You have to come up to see us to do it, cause that's hard to bring them around, but, uh, they're, they're nice, uh, to, to see, and worth, worth the trip.
Jeff Spurgeon: Another reason to visit Quebec.
Isaac Chalk: Exactly.
Jeff Spurgeon: So we have the walled city attraction and inside it, Les Violons du Roy. Isaac Chalk, thank you so much. Go get that glass of water now, you've got some more work to do in a few minutes. Alright, thanks for speaking with us.
John Schaefer: Isaac Chalk is the principal violist of Les Violons du Roy. So, uh, Chateau Frontenac and Les Violons du Roy, two reasons to go and visit Quebec City.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's a beautiful place. It's a beautiful place.
John Schaefer: So we're at intermission of this, uh, really remarkable concert from the guitarist Miloš and the, uh, the Quebec based ensemble known as Les Violons du Roy. We're going to listen next to a recording that this ensemble and their conductor, Jonathan Cohen, made with the countertenor, Anthony Roth Costanzo, a familiar figure on the New York classical music scene. This is the, uh, the hit tune from Handel's Xerxes. It's Ombra Mai Fu.
HANDEL: Xerxes "Ombra Mai Fu"
Jeff Spurgeon: "Ombra mai fu" from Handel's opera Xerxes. There aren't very many opening numbers in music that talk about being thankful for the shade of a plain tree, but by golly, there is one number that does, and that was it. That was, uh, Anthony Roth Costanzo singing that moment of music by Handel, and the ensemble with him was Les Violons du Roy and conductor Jonathan Cohen.
John Schaefer: This organization that you're hearing tonight on this broadcast from Carnegie Hall Live, Les Violons du Roy from Canada, have worked with a number of really distinguished soloists, pianist Alexandre Tharaud and Marc-André Hamelin among them. Tonight, they are collaborating with guitarist Miloš. And, uh, John, you got to spend some time with Miloš, uh, recently, a long conversation with him. Um, and one that you can relate to because you play the guitar as well, so, so you've got a lot to share.
John Schaefer: I do not play the guitar as well. Well,
Jeff Spurgeon: But you play, I'm sorry, you play the guitar also. I apologize.
John Schaefer: But the, here's the thing about the guitar. Uh, people like me can play it, and people like Miloš can play it, and there's a whole spectrum of people who can play it in any number of different styles. It is a truly, at this point, a truly global instrument. And so, while yes, we wanted to talk about this concert and Baroque music, uh, this is a guy who has recorded the Beatles, has recorded contemporary works written for him, recorded the, the hit classical guitar tunes. And so I wanted to talk to him and get his thoughts about the instrument and its unique ability to span so many musical genres and cultures.
Miloš: It's the world's most popular instrument. There is no question about that. If you want to express yourself musically, you first do it with your voice. And then the second thing is you pick up the guitar and you strum a chord. And that is almost the most natural thing to do after the singing. As a classical guitarist, you have such a unique position because you sit so comfortably between all those different worlds. And I always felt that as a guitarist and with the luck that I had to be a popular guitarist to play for a lot of people, you kind of have a free pass. To see how far you can take it, what works, what doesn't. When you're working on the repertoire, you are transcribing it, you are bringing it to your world, but the sole purpose of that is to add another layer of expression or quality to it. To never compromise, to not do it unless it's for the right reason.
John Schaefer: That is Miloš talking about the guitar as a kind of unifying a bridging instrument between genres and cultures. Let's hear a little bit more from him now. And a recording of one of the great tunes for the classical guitar, actually originally written for piano.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's right.
John Schaefer: Um, but we have come to know it as a classical guitar piece, and that is Asturias by Isaac Albeniz.
Miloš: Guitarist Miloš playing Asturias by Isaac Albéniz. And now we're backstage once again at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. And instead of Miloš playing the guitar, you're hearing the tune up of Les Violons du Roy. Fifteen musicians all together, including the conductor and leader, Jonathan Cohen, who works from the harpsichord, but everybody else is just getting into tune as we're getting ready to start the second half of this concert that features both this ensemble, Les Violons du Roy, and the guitarist, Miloš Karadaglić. So we'll hear them as we did in the first half, we'll hear the ensemble and the soloists separately, and then together as well in the second half of this program.
John Schaefer: And, uh, we had a chance to speak with Jonathan Cohen earlier this week, uh, about adding this instrument, the guitar, and this particular guitarist to the mix.
Jonathan Cohen: I adore Miloš, I think he's, he's, uh, he brings a unique perspective to the guitar because he's, he has a very, very sensitive and beautiful singing style that he makes on the instrument and it's it's really a pleasure to play and he's he's chosen quite an eclectic mix of music for the guitar and I think it's like a it's a real tour of what's possible in Baroque music expressed through the guitar and especially through through his very unique expressive and singing style so I think that's a it'll be quite an unusual concert that we're very excited to to collaborate with him here at Les Violons du Roy.
I don't think the orchestra's done a Baroque music program with a classical guitarist before. It's quite an unusual and unique, uh, uh, idea.
Jeff Spurgeon: Conductor Jonathan Cohen, who, with Les Violons du Roy, is back on stage for the second half of this concert. It's a suite by Telemann, coming to you from Carnegie Hall Live.
TELEMANN: Overture Suite in B-flat Major, TWV55:B8, "Burlesque Overture"
Jeff Spurgeon: From Carnegie Hall Live, you've just heard Les Violons du Roy bring you a suite of music by Georg Philippe Telemann. We were talking earlier about Baroque music that uses dance forms. This suite is unusual. Only a couple of the movements are named after dances, a couple of minuets, but the other movements are named after stock characters from the Commedia dell'Arte. There's a Scarmouche and a Harlequin and a Pierrot and a couple of others in this particular suite by Handel, performed by Les Violons du Roy and their leader, Jonathan Cohen. Backstage at Zankel Hall, I'm Jeff Spurgeon, alongside John Schaefer.
John Schaefer: And that final bit of music in the suite, very kind of folky, almost a bagpipe quality to the strings, especially in that very expressive performance from Jonathan Cohen and the Violons du Roy.
The, uh, other half of the concert that, uh, that includes sometimes the Les Violons du Roy is the music of the guitarist Miloš and this is one of those moments in the concert where the ensemble leaves the stage and Miloš takes center stage here at Zankel Hall and he's going to put together a set of three solo performances before the the string ensemble rejoins us on stage here at Zankel Hall. The first of the three is an excerpt from Rameau's opera, Les Boréades. It's called, uh, The Arts and the Hours. Then we'll hear Handel's Minuet from, uh, the Minuet in G minor. And then, Silvius Leopold Weiss and his Passacaglia, originally for lute and arranged for the classical guitar. Here is Miloš at Zankel Hall to perform this set of three solo pieces on Carnegie Hall Live.
RAMEAU: "Les Arts et les heures" Les Boréades
HANDEL: Minuet from Suite in B-flat Major, HWV 434
S. L. WEISS: Passacaglia for Lute in D Major
Jeff Spurgeon: From Carnegie Hall Live, a performance of works by three composers of the Baroque era by guitarist Miloš Karadaglic. What you just heard was his transcription of a work for lute by the great Baroque lutenist Silvius Leopold Weiss. Before that, a beautiful minuet by Handel, and Miloš began with a transcription of the entry of the Muses, the Zephyrs, the Seasons, the Hours, and the Arts from Jean Philippe Rameau's Les Boréades.
As I said, Miloš made the transcription of the Weiss. The other two were transcriptions made by his teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, the guitarist and pedagogue Michael Lewin.
Backstage at Zankel Hall, Carnegie's middle sized performing space. I'm Jeff Spurgeon alongside John Schaefer.
John Schaefer: And, uh, we are surrounded by some of the members of Les Violons du Roy, who, uh with Miloš having vacated the stage, will now be filling the the stage here at Zankel Hall to perform a couple of works from Henry Purcell.
It's funny how pronunciation of that name has gone back and forth between Purcell and Purcell.
Jeff Spurgeon: There's a soap, I think, that is Purcell, or maybe, well, I'm not sure which is which. Um, but yes, uh, we call him Henry Purcell. At any rate, he answers the same to both names, which is to say, not at all. Not at all.
John Schaefer: Yeah, um, but, uh, in London they do have the, the Purcell Room, but they also had a big celebration in 1995 of the Henry Purcell tricentenary, so go figure. However you say his name, uh, this is an English Baroque composer responsible for some wonderful music for the theater, for the pub, and for the concert hall.
And we will get a chance to hear the, uh, the Suite from the Fairy Queen, as well as a curtain tune from The History of Timon of Athens. And curtain tune simply means that it is a kind of a, an entracte, a, a, a piece
Jeff Spurgeon: Something between the acts of a play.
John Schaefer: Between acts of a play, right.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, change the scenery and work things around. This is, uh, that will be the second thing that you'll hear of the Purcell, uh, will be this curtain tune, uh, On a Ground, uh, which is a repeating bass pattern. Right. So you'll hear the harmony, uh, rise up out of that. Now, moving themselves onto the Zankel Hall stage, the members of Les Violons de Roy and their leader and, uh, conductor of this concert, Jonathan Cohen, for this music from The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell, coming to you from Carnegie Hall Live.
PURCELL: Suite from The Fairy Queen
PURCELL: "Curtain tune on a Ground" from The History of Timon of Athens
John Schaefer: Two works by Henry Purcell, the English Baroque composer, played by Les Violons du Roy, the King's Violins, directed from the harpsichord by Jonathan Cohen. That last piece, the curtain tune from Timon of Athens, and prior to that we heard a suite from The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell. Um, up next, to conclude the main body of the program, we'll bring back the guitarist, Miloš, for a really wonderful piece of music by Antonio Vivaldi, the Concerto in D Major for Lute, strings and continuo, and Jeff, we don't have a lute player, but we do have a guitarist.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's a work that guitarists have been loving for a long time, and you're right, they're easier to find than lutenists. And Miloš is here with Les Violons du Roy, so here we go, from Carnegie Hall Live.
VIVALDI: Concerto in D Major for Lute, Strings, and Continuo, RV 93
John Schaefer: That is Vivaldi's Concerto in D for Lute, Strings and Continuo here played on guitar rather than lute by Miloš. The Montenegrin-born London-based guitarist and soloist with Les Violons du Roy, the Quebec based Baroque music ensemble playing the strings led from the harpsichord by Jonathan Cohen. Warm round of applause from the audience here at Zankel Hall for the band and the guitarist and a perennial favorite from Vivaldi.
It's a sweet work, that middle movement so persuasive in the outer movements in that those beautiful, again, Baroque dance elements everywhere across the work. Real pleasure to hear.
This is Classical New York, 105. 9 FM at HD, WQXR, Newark, and 90. 3 FM, WQXW, Ossining.
That concludes the programmed part of this, uh, evening with Miloš and Les Violons du Roy.
But, uh, the stage doors have opened and the musicians aren't leaving. There were two or three who, uh, stepped away during that Vivaldi concerto that we just heard, but now the entire ensemble is back on stage. Extra bow for Miloš, who himself is stepping out, along with Jonathan Cohen. But we hope that we're not quite done hearing music tonight.
Well, and we, we, we might mention that Jonathan Cohen and Miloš have collaborated on a lot of this music on the record called simply Baroque, done with Jonathan Cohen's other band, Arcangelo. And he is headed back to the harpsichord, and we are about to hear an encore here at, uh, Carnegie's Zankel Hall.
Jonathan Cohen: We have an extra arrangement of a Trio Sonata by Vivaldi, it's RV82. A little arrangement...
VIVALDI Larghetto from Trio Sonata in C Major, RV 82
John Schaefer: Larghetto movement from a Trio Sonata by Antonio Vivaldi. The guitarist, Miloš, the ensemble, Les Violons du Roy, and their leader, Jonathan Cohen. Coming to you from Carnegie Hall, live, specifically from Zankel Hall, where you've heard this Canadian-based string ensemble, very familiar with Baroque music, and this guitarist, who has leaned himself into the Baroque repertoire, even though the classical guitar training really focuses on music from the late 19th century, more than any other single era.
Now back on stage once again, Miloš. And the members of Les Violons du Roy standing. Well, they've sort of been standing the whole evening, haven't they?
Jeff Spurgeon: Except for the cellists, the cellists. They get the break every single time. But in the style of the classic Les Violons du Roy, the original ensemble, they have been, they have been standing.
John Schaefer: And, uh, a little bit of tuning, and then it looks like Miloš is going to give us another encore.
Miloš: Thank you so much.
It's always, always so special to play for a New York audience. And I'm so honored tonight to share the stage with Johnny and with the Violons. We've just had such a wonderful time working on these pieces, and we are so excited to go on tour in the spring. And very often when I work with these guys, because our two worlds are so different, the world of classical guitar and the world of early music, but it just shows how universal and how the music really is the language of all of us and the language of the whole world.
And the piece that I'm going to play now is a piece that you know, and I'm only going to play it because when I work with these guys, I very often feel like I am somewhere over the rainbow. Thank you so much.
ARLEN "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz
John Schaefer: The guitarist, Miloš, and an arrangement of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. That arrangement, we're told, was by the late Japanese composer Toru Takamitsu. It's really lovely, the way that sits on the guitar. And Jeff, to kind of set the stage, literally, Miloš performed that with the members of Les Violons du Roy standing silently around him. It was really kind of wonderful to watch.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah, very special to have that, uh That, uh, appreciation coming from all sides. And now back on stage, Miloš and, as you said, John, uh, Les Violons du Roy never left. Jonathan Cohen's out there now with him. So the entire ensemble you've heard tonight on this broadcast from Carnegie's Zankel Hall.
An evening of Baroque music, much of it transcribed so the guitar could be included in it, and that very special song by that, uh, that nice little canter's boy from Buffalo, Harold Arlen, who wrote Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
That brings to a close this program from Zankel Hall tonight. We are expecting to have a word or two with the leader of this ensemble, with Jonathan Cohen, in a moment as this group prepares to head on back up north to their home.
They performed just last night in Quebec City, came to New York for this concert today, and uh, then they'll be headed back home, but there is a great deal more in the future for Miloš and Jonathan Cohen together. And now, at the Carnegie Hall microphone, Jonathan Cohen.
Jonathan Cohen: Good evening!
Jeff Spurgeon: Thank you for that amazing and wonderful performance, a tremendous program, and I wanted to ask you about the challenge, I think it's the great challenge for any orchestra leader dealing with uh, a guitar. And that is the issue of balance. How do you, uh, make sure that things come across properly. I think you have to ask a great deal of your musicians.
Jonathan Cohen: Indeed, and I went out in the hall and listened as much as I could, you know, during the rehearsals to make sure that we have a good balance with the guitar. He also has a little amplifier, but not very much, you know, just discreetly. And, you know, it's, it's a baroque music, so it's not like a symphonic orchestra, you know. It works, I think. It works.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, even so, you have to ask your folks to be a little light on their feet, I would think.
Jonathan Cohen: Of course, of course. There's some very soft playing there tonight, I think.
John Schaefer: Well, and as the second movement of the Vivaldi concerto.
Jonathan Cohen: Yeah.
John Schaefer: I don't think I've ever heard the continuo part played quite…
Jonathan Cohen: Oh, right, yeah. I had a sort of little doodle along there, didn't I?
Jeff Spurgeon: It was, it was beautifully done. Now, was that, was that just tonight, or have you done that in that, with that piece before?
Jonathan Cohen: No, uh, actually, I did it before, but um, every night is a little different, you know? Right. Right.
John Schaefer: Key question. Yeah. PURcell or PurCELL?
Jonathan Cohen: We say PurCELL often, I think, but probably all the English
John Schaefer: Wrong answer, thank you for playing our game.
Jonathan Cohen: Purcell probably is an old-fashioned English way of saying it, I think.
John Schaefer: Okay. Okay.
Jonathan Cohen: Hard to know.
Jeff Spurgeon: And, and, um, when you take this, when you take this program on the road, as you're going to do with, with Arcangelo, with whom you've recorded this, this album, again, I'm, because I'm interested in this acoustical question of how you adjust for any given hall. Do you have to rehearse a lot of the pieces? Do you have to just do a few of them to feel set in the place where you're playing?
Jonathan Cohen: Yeah, we go through most of the program, you know, um, each time in a new hall, even just the first bars, and we just, you know, I go and listen a lot. And it's really just a, we call it top and tail, you know, you take the beginning and the end, and the things, and the connections, and things like that.
John Schaefer: What about, uh, you know, you're doing a lot of the same music with Les Violons du Roy that you do with Arcangelo. How different, uh, do you sometimes forget which ensemble you're leading?
Jonathan Cohen: No, no, not at all. No, I mean, you know, we're doing a tour with Les Violons and Miloš as well. We do a big U. S. tour in the spring, which I'm looking forward to very much. Um, and with Arcangelo, I think we do some of the U. K. concerts. Because it's a U.K.-based orchestra.
John Schaefer: And it is the same repertoire.
Jonathan Cohen: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll do similar repertoires.
John Schaefer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, the recording is, is really a kind of a special event, you know, because, um, this is not music that was written for a classical guitar. It had to all be transcribed. And so, I guess I'm wondering what your role is in kind of figuring out, once a guitar part has been made, does the orchestration need to adapt itself to the solos?
Jonathan Cohen: Yeah, a little bit. But you know, I think we, we chose the repertoire with, with the orchestrations also in mind and the various arrangements and, um, and then commissioned ones, which, which, which, uh, which we worked on, you know?
Yeah. But it's a very Baroque thing to, um, to make arrangements of music. I mean, if you look at Bach, for example, his concertos for harpsichord, you can hear on the oboe or the violin or, you know, so it's, um, I think in a way it's very, very authentic to, in a way, you know.
Jeff Spurgeon: You don't look like you're working out there. You look like you're, you're one of the happiest appearing continuo players that I've seen, um, and, and it doesn't, you, and you don't, you don't appear to be working or there isn't very much effortfulness in your playing, um, and so I, I wonder, do you, do you go out with an agenda for tonight? I'm going to decorate things a little more tonight? One night or another?
Jonathan Cohen: No, really, you know, I feel very blessed to be able to, to do music. I don't ever feel it's work really, you know? Yeah. Um, and I didn't go out with an agenda, well I suppose I My goal is to try and, try and really bring the, especially with that, with that Telemann piece, it's a real piece of theatre. So I go out there thinking, how can we bring this alive and all the various clown dances, you know, how can we characterize them, how can we have fun and really sort of, um, pass that on to the audience. I think that's, that's our goal, isn't it?
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, I think, I think you did it, I think you did it as we watched you, but of course, much more importantly, as we heard you tonight.
Jonathan Cohen: Oh, great. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Jeff Spurgeon: It was wonderful. Jonathan Cohen, who was the leader of this evening's performance by Les Violons du Roy, and you'll hear him in other places with his ensemble, Arcangelo, and in a few other guises as well, as time goes on. Thank you so much for being with us tonight.
Jonathan Cohen: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Jeff Spurgeon: And with that, we'll conclude this broadcast from Carnegie Hall Live. With our thanks to Clive Gillinson and the staff of Carnegie Hall.
John Schaefer: And WQXR's team, including engineers Edward Haber, George Wellington, Duke Marcos, and Bill Sigmund. Our production team, Eileen Delahunty, Laura Boyman, Christine Herskovits, and Aimée Buchanan.
I'm John Schaefer.
Jeff Spurgeon: And I'm Jeff Spurgeon. Carnegie Hall Live is a co-production of Carnegie Hall and WQXR in New York.