CULTURE

Four Baroque concerts in Athens

The world of Baroque and its distinct musical style will be revived at the French Institute in Athens beginning this month, with four separate concerts on January 14, 28 and February 18 and 25. The event revolves around instrumental pieces composed by Jean-Philippe Rameau, a leading French Baroque musician. The event’s artistic director is Daphne Kokkoni, while the concerts will take place in the French Institute’s recently refurbished auditorium. World of music and harmony Born in Dijon in 1683, two years before Handel, Bach and Domenico Scarlatti, Rameau’s father, Jean, was the city cathedral’s organist and possibly his son’s first teacher. The young musician spent the early part of his career as an organist at the cathedrals of Clermont-Ferrand and Avignon. In 1722 (or perhaps 1723) he moved to Paris, where he began publishing his collections of harpsichord pieces. It was also in the capital that he published his «Traite de l’harmonie» (Treatise on Harmony), which received considerable attention and ultimately became the basis of harmonic studies. From 1733 onward Rameau devoted his time to composing operas and to his work as a music theorist. It was around this time that he also managed to secure the patronage of a wealthy man and musical amateur. In 1745 Rameau was appointed official composer of King Louis XV, reaching his height of fame with operas such as «Les Indes Galantes» and «Dardanus.» The beginning of the end was close, however, when he entered into theoretical conflict with partisans of Italian opera, as well as Rousseau and other founders of the Encyclopedia. His views, opposing those of Rousseau and his friends, led to a general shunning of his works. Fifteen years after his death in 1764, none of his works featured in the Paris Opera. All in all Rameau wrote 32 operas, ranging from lyrical tragedy to opera-ballet, and including «Hippolyte et Aricie» (1733), «Castor et Pollux» (1737) and «Zoroastre» (1749), among others. However, the only remaining piece of religious music is «Quatre Grands Motets.» All of Rameau’s harpsichord pieces from throughout his career were gathered in four volumes: three books of dedicated harpsichord pieces (1706, 1724, 1728) and an additional volume which appeared in 1741, titled «Pieces de clavecin en concert,» consisting of concert music in which the harpsichord is accompanied by other instruments. The four concerts will include works from each. On January 14, the selections are from the «Pieces de clavecin en concert» (1741) with the first, third and fifth concertos as well as «Suite en la majeur» from the «Premier livre des pieces de clavecin» (1706). Interpreting the above are Daphne Kokkoni on harpsichord, Sharman Plesner on the violin and Angelos Repapis on the bass viol. On January 28, the harpsichord pieces «Suite en majeur» and «Suite en remajeur» (1724) will be interpreted by Markellos Chrissicopoulos. On February 18, Chrissicopoulos, Kokkoni and Catherine Ktona will alternate on the harpsichord to interpret more works, including «La Dauphine» (1747). And on February 25, Iakovos Pappas (harpsichord), Vassilis Tsotsolis (violin) and Angelos Repapis (bass viol) will close the tribute to the French Baroque composer’s collection of works with «Les Indes Galantes» (1735) and the first and fourth concertos of the «Pieces de clavecin en concert» (1741). «Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Entire Works for Harpsichord,» at the French Institute’s auditorium, on January 14, 28 and February 18 and 25. French Institute, 31 Sina, Athens, tel 339.8600.