Chicago Baroque Ensemble | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chicago Baroque Ensemble 

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Louis XIV lavished money and honors on his favorite artists, and leading the pack of musicians at Versailles was Jean-Baptiste Lully, a prodigious composer who established the graceful, dignified tone that would dominate French music for years. In this "Music From Versailles" sampler the Chicago Baroque Ensemble--well-respected for its scholarship, fluid playing, and sensible period-instrument approach--offers glimpses into the dance-rhythm-dominated style that began with Lully and was chief rival of the more flamboyant Italian style (in keeping with Louis' desire to dominate Europe's political stage). Lully, who believed that passion in art should be understandable, regulated, and refined, is represented by a suite of mostly pastoral songs and court dances compiled by the ensemble's John Mark Rozendaal. Lully's protege Marin Marais is represented by his ingenious variations on Les folies d'Espagne, a good introduction to "division" music for viola da gamba and continuo that was featured in the French film Tous les matins du monde. Another protege, Louis Clerambault, wrote his Medee as a cantata because the Sun King had run out of funds for operatic stagings. Couperin's suite Les gouts reunis for violin and continuo, composed around 1715, is a rather successful hybrid of the two prevailing styles of the time. The featured vocalist is Patrice Michaels Bedi, a soprano whose ravishing voice is at its peak. Other performers include Rozendaal on viola da gamba, Jeri-Lou Zike on violin, Jerry Fuller on violone, and David Schrader on harpsichord. Sunday, 3 PM, Michigan Shores Club, 911 N. Michigan, Wilmette. Monday, 6 PM, Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson. 274-2528.

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