The ancient “La Folia” musical theme originated in the Iberian Peninsula and, as a leitmotif, it threads its way through European music history from the Renaissance to the present day. It has been treated by many composers including Lully, Corelli, Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Liszt and Rachmaninoff. Antonio Salieri (1750–1825) and Hans Werner Henze (1926–2012) also belong on this list.
With the renaissance of so-called early music and its historically informed performance in the second half of the 20th century, composers increasingly turned their attention to this tradition, finding in it impulses for their own work. Many compositions show this tendency in their very titles, such as Schnittke’s Suite in the Old Style and Górecki’s Three Pieces in Old Style. The Polish composer Maciej Małecki (born 1940) also described his Concertino for Two Harps and Strings (1988) as “in an old style”.
The penultimate of Ludwig van Beethoven’s (1770–1827) nine symphonies strictly observes the canonical sonata form as it was refined during the era of Viennese Classicism. At first glance, it looks like a reversion – and that is how the contemporary audience in Vienna, already accustomed to Beethoven’s daring forays, saw it too. Yet this is, rather, the maestro fondly looking back and brilliantly toying with something he had stepped out of so many times, but which he deeply appreciates as a fundamental aesthetic value.
ANTONIO SALIERI 26 variations on “La folia di Spagna”
HANS WERNER HENZE Aria de la folía española
MACIEJ MAŁECKI Concertino in an Old Style
LUDWIG van BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 8 in F major
Ivana Švestková harp
Kateřina Bendová harp
conductor Gerrit Prießnitz
Concert program can be downloaded here.
Cast of the orchestra can be downloaded here.