Pre-Concert Talks available for all programs. Programs available for 4 to 7 players.
The seventeenth century was a transformative moment in our Western cultural history. The world became modern: new technologies were emerging, our modern economic system was developing, the earth was no longer at the center of the universe. Among the cultural revolutions was one in music. Composers consciously began to create a nuove musiche or stile moderno of dramatic oppositions and vivid emotions, in striking contrast to the smooth tapestry of Renaissance polyphony. Quicksilver’s Stile Moderno is an examination of this modern music as it was invented by virtuoso instrumental composers in Italy. It is also an exploration of their new invention, the sonata: a pure instrumental work, a piece simply meant to be “sounded,” with no agenda but the imagination of the composer . This “new music” is virtuosic, experimental, unexpected, and deeply moving: the closest we come to wordless rhetoric. Music by Castello, Fontana, Merula, Marini, Neri and Cima.
The seventeenth century in Germany was a time of incredible upheaval: wars of religion and politics swept the land, bringing famine and plague in their wake and an ongoing state of crisis. The chamber music of the time reflects this fraught, unpredictable cultural climate. Inspired by the experimental works of Italian composers, the virtuosos working in Germany explored the sonata as an abstract form of wordless conversation in music giving composers free reign to do whatever their imagination suggested, delighting and astonishing the listener. They described this style as the “stylus Fantasticus,” “instituted to display genius” in the words of mathematician Athanasius Kirchner. Music by Weckmann, Buxtehude, Kerll, Vierdanck, Bertali and Schmeltzer.
Music in Vienna actually had its first flourishing long before Mozart. The splendid seventeenth-century court of the Holy Roman Emperors from Matthias to Leopold I were great music lovers and connoisseurs who brought together virtuosos from Italy and native-born composers to create a remarkable musical culture. Our program explores the brilliant music created for their varied court festivities in a rich feast of sumptuous sonatas and ingenious ballets. Music by Valentini, Bertali, Buonamente, Kerll, Legrenzi, Muffat, Fux and Schmeltzer.
The outskirts of Europe in the seventeenth century enjoyed fascinating and inspiring cross-cultural exchanges. Our program celebrates this music from the margins, where the exotic inventions of folk music influenced the creation of early modern chamber music. Travel with Quicksilver and uncover rarely heard and captivating gems off the beaten track. Music by van Wichel, Mielczewski, Schmeltzer, Kempis, Fux and more.
Today’s string quartets and quintets have a pre-history in the seventeenth century, when composers took the Renaissance idea of consort music and created new and compelling repertoires for strings with continuo. This program is a rare chance to hear some of the early masterpieces of this genre, from late Renaissance dances and fantasies to the theatrical sonatas of the new violin virtuosos of the 1680s.
Wunderkammer or “wonderrooms” were cabinets containing wide-ranging collections of objects whose categorical boundaries were not defined. With new found compositional freedom, 17th century composers similarly created many musical wonders – stretching the boundaries of musical conversation, welcoming the influences of migrants and exploring new means to communicate the depths of their experiences. The result of their efforts was a wealth of musical treasures, many of which are only recently coming to light.
In the seventeenth century, everyone wanted to be Louis XIV. When Charles II was restored to the throne of England, he brought with him a taste for the sophisticated music of the Sun King. In this program, the elegant inventions of the ancien régime are contrasted with the extraordinary and quirky music of native English composers; the two styles find a wonderful synthesis in the hands of the great Henry Purcell.
Venice, Bologna, Modena, Padua, Verona, Florence, Cremona, Mantua, Naples, Rome. Quicksilver embarks on a dazzling tour of Italy, exploring sublime and dramatic works spanning the 17th century while illuminating numerous regions and styles. The journey takes you from the birthplace of the virtuoso violin through its rich development, from Castello to Corelli.
J.S. Bach had a comprehensive sense of what was going on in Europe musically during the early 18th century, largely thanks to his access to impressively well-stocked music libraries. Our concert presents a portrait of Bach’s influences, from the fantastical sonatas of seventeenth-century Germany to the refined music of the French court and the virtuosity of the Italian eighteenth century. Including sonatas and suites by Reincken, Rosenmüller, Buxtehude, Krieger, Fux, Couperin, and Vivaldi.
Gorgeous and inventive music from the seventeenth century, illuminating both the stile moderno in Italy and stylus fantasticus in Germany. This program explores the sonata as it was developed first in Italy and then in Germany. In both countries the sonata provided a medium for striking creativity, unrestricted by a standard formal shape and stretching the boundaries and impact of wordless conversation. Music by Neri, Bertali, Castello, Fontana, Weckmann and others.
detail from Allegory of Hearing -Jan van Kessel
top right painting: detail from Apollo en de muzen – Hendrik van Balen
mid left painting: The Guitar Player – Johannes Vermeer