Thursday 28 July 2011

Baroque Music Festival - The Churches - Part 2

Friday - 29 July 2011

As a counterpoint to Saturday's itinerary,
Friday offers three different concerts at a single Church.

 Between concerts you will be able to participate in lectures...


... a guided walk through the local countryside,

...the village of Cercles.... well as to freely mix with the musicians...

...all the while quenching your thirst and appetite...

...with food and drinks from the Cafe Baroque.

In addition, purveyors will offer wine, Gourmet items, and fine local crafts.

The Church - L'Eglise Abbatiale de Cercles

Located in a well-protected site between a small square
shaded by...

...beautiful old lime trees...

...and an ancient cemetery...

...with the graves and ancient tombstones surrounded by grass,

this former priory of Saint-Cybard in Angouleme was built on Romanesque foundations,
though only the nave remains from that period.
The first mention of a Prior of Cercles dates from 1115.
In this era (11th and 12th Centuries) the area around Verteillac
had many Romanesque Churches with cupolas, or domes.
Certain of them are fortified, bearing witness to the insecurity which reigned in this frontier region.
Cercles also possessed at this time a stone church, probably fortified.
Some elements of this have been re-used, notably in the lower part of the present nave.

The transept  dates from the 13th - 14th Century
and the entire structure is vaulted in ogives of the 16th and 17th Century.

In spite of technical imperfections in the construction of the walls,
the structure as a whole is beautifully proportioned,

 ...while the decor of the capitals sitting atop the columns lends to a certain lightness.

These sculptures on a group of about thirty capitals dating from the early 13th Century,
are attributed to sculptors from the Angouleme region.

 The capitals are beautifully sculpted, in a lime stone with a very fine grain,
and in an astonishing style:

masks, foliage, flowers, rose-shapes, moon faces,
entwined beasts, facing each other or back-to back,

 geometric ornaments,

some are sculptured with elaborate leaves which recall the sculptures
of Notre-Dame de Paris, or of Reims......


Programme de la Journee:

11h:  Ouverture de Baroque en Cercles
Cafe Baroque - Itinéraire Gourmand - Marché Artisanal


12h:  Mini Classic with  THE CLASSIC BUSKERS 
Bach, Offenbach, Mozart, Rossini, Ravel, Bizet, Tchaikovsky

Michael COPLEY, toutes les flutes possible et impossibles
Ian MOORE, accordéon rose ou jaune

The Classic Buskers, that mind-blowing pair, are returning to Cercles,
to our very great pleasure, with arias by Mozart and Rossini,
Ravel's Bolero, and even Bizet's Carmen.
Virtuosity and humour are once more the keynote!


 15h: - A round-table discussion with several musicians

'Douce Beaute' - 'Sweet Beauty'

In the poetic repertoire of the 16th century, 
there is no part of the body which does not deserve to be mentioned in song.
First rank composers, such as Lassus, Jannequin and Sweelinck,
and also their less famous colleagues, - all men and all married -
have changed the emphasis of the poems to golden hair, brown eyes, red lips and long necks.

The songs, madrigals and villanelles, which the quartet sings exude,
contrary to what one might think, courteous respect and dazzling admiration.

No dissenting word can be heard!
To sing of feminine beauty remains nevertheless a hazardous business,
even in our so-called modern age.
However Egidius does so, and has done for many years,
for both the public's pleasure and their own, and certainly with those 
same good sentiments and intentions which we will now enjoy.


18h:  Café Baroque - Lecture on the Church of Cercles, Place of Genesis

 On the exterior of the entrance, six capitals, 
resembling the Angouleme or Saintogne styles,
decorate the portal

Like the capitals inside the church,

 these on the porch do not seem to be local,
and are sculptured with great virtuosity.

Animals in combat, tracery, monsters.......



Sonatas from Purcell, Dall'Abaco, Pla, Rebel and Zelenka

There is a temptation to compare ZEFIRO'S music to wine tasting,
and to speak of fruity and elegant notes.
If baroque composers rendered homage to wind instruments
they were certainly thinking of these musicians.

The golden age of Oboe and Bassoon

In the second half of the 17th Century major changes occurred in western music.
As a result of this, two main national styles were established as models all over Europe:
the "singing" Italian and the "dancing" French.
Soon all other European countries would adopt these styles and often mix one with the other,
in an respectful exchange that symbolizes the desire for an united Europe
that was already evident in the artistic environment.
Also, a series of new musical instruments still used in modern times.
Among these, the oboe and the bassoon became so successful 
after their development in France between 1660 and 1680, that they were
immediately introduced in the musical life of all the other European countries.
In contrast to the previous shawms, they had a wide dynamic range,
the ability to play in many tonalities, a sound that could easily blend with string instruments.
This versatility made them suitable for many purposes, such as playing in the orchestra,
in chamber music, dialoguing with the voices, playing open air etc....
These qualities were acknowledged by many important composers.
It's remarkable to notice that the large majority of solo parts
for the oboe and for the bassoon date from before 1750.
(by Alfredo Bernardini)

Alfredo Bernardini, oboe and direction
Paolo Grazzi, oboe
Alberto Grazzi, bassoon
Paolo Zuccheri, violon
Luca Guglielmi, clavecin

My wish for this year 2011, the 10th anniversary of the Itineraire Baroque,
is that it will be the most joyous possible.
Music is a celebration, and it is in this spirit that I have programmed the festival -
first staged in 2001 with my dear Périgordine friends -
for the great pleasure, I hope, of all of you.

This is why I have invited for this celebration musicians and their ensembles
who have already performed here and had great success:
The Egidius Kwartet, the Classic Busters, Fabio Bonizzoni and his group the Rizonnanza,
and Zefrio directed by Alfredo Bernardini.
In addition to their great talent,
these artists know how to entertain and enchant their audience.

to be continued....

Wednesday 27 July 2011

"Amour Fou" - Part Two

A guest post

Just having a break from the Iténeraire Baroque
for Debbie's guest post

As promised last winter,
see 'Un americain-périgordienne Amour Fou'
I have returned to the beautiful Périgord,
and find myself back in the 'little house' of Karin and Ron.
Every season has it's charm here, and as I hail from southern California,
 it is quite special for me, just to experience seasons at all.


The drive from Angouleme to the Village of Verteillac this time of year
takes one on small roads with one lane in each direction,

past alternating fields of sunflowers, corn and wheat.

It is a panorama view that I like to compare to a patchwork quilt,
changing with each twist and turn in the road.

From one village to another.. see ancient churches,
many in this region dating back to the 12th century.

Each day is a new adventure.  Friday is the market in Riberac.
In my last post, see  here
there was the special market devoted to winter products and I bought 
little, black truffles and foie gras.

Now in summer the market offers....

...fresh onions...

...tied in small bundles...together with young garlic...

...that fragrant!

Artichokes with long stems were just pulled from gardens


...some are so big it is hard to hold them in one hand!

Garlic and shallots come in many varieties
with colors not sold in my local market at home. I like to try them all.

Roasted beets are another summer favorite,
which I roast, drizzle with French olive oil and a balsamic reduction.

This region has a blend of cognac and ??? which is called Pineau des Charentes.
I adore it and buy a bottle or 2 as soon as I arrive
to be served cold each evening as an aperitif. 

On Fridays you can taste both the white and pink varieties 
from little glasses at the open market.

This Friday I bought a tiny cooked quail and some tasty potatoes from the Artisan Rotisseur.
The potatoes are flavored with the drippings of the hot roasting birds.


Another day was filled with a drive into St. Emilion wine region.
The landscaped subtly changes...

...row upon row of vineyards...

...with plumb grapes hanging from ancient vines,
some families have been making wine for 10 generations!

Many of the Chateaux have wonderful entrances.

And Karin arranged for us to have a private tour at one.

Not too far away,  south of Bergerac,
(1) the Chateau Monbazillac

The Monbazillac wine is a rather sweet wine that is superb with the seared foie,
and also with a fine dessert.
I drank some just tonight with the pasta and foie gras I made for dinner...

The architecture...

  ...of these castle-like Chateau... like something out of a fairy tale.


I love walking through villages...
 ...with their narrow, cobblestone streets,

imagining the lives of the people who walked here hundreds of years ago.

I confess that I have a real fascination for the old doors...

...and colorful shutters...

with interesting hardware


Just a 10 minutes drive from La Pouyette... one of the local farms for the production of the foie gras.

Geese and ducks...

...hang out in the open air... well as a flock of ostrich

* details,

but we all know what eventually happens...


On Saturday morning there is a little farmers market in the village of Villebois Lavalette...

...that has a stand with fresh oysters.

Karin says the building, made of wood beams and well weathered red tiled roof... 500 years old

 whit the most amazing beam construction!


We ordered a dozen of the oysters which are shucked....

...and brought over to your table with a wedge of lemon.

The Cafe across the street is called cafe reunion,
which is an apt name as Karin ran into 5 different people
she hasn't seen in awhile!


A few days ago when the weather turned to be somewhat 'cold' and drizzling,
too cool to hang around the pool, I went with Karin on a drive along the Circuit Roman.
This takes you from one 11th or 12th century Romanesque church to another.
She needed to make plans for some decoration she will be doing this week
for the Iténeraire Baroque, an annual music festival.

I'm fascinated by how the stone entrances are worn down
 from generation after generation of churchgoers.

In St. Martial de Viveyrole the church is right next... an old cemetary...

...and I wandered through reading about the families,
many of which lost young sons during long ago wars.
The gray skies seemed fitting this day.


 The old Romanesque church in Cherval...

 ...was right next to the Mairie, or mayor house,

flying the colorful flags of France.

If you look at the door on the right...

..and the left, you see the word ECOLE. It translates
And as I am a teacher, I love to walk around looking for glimpses 
that shed light on what it is like to attend school in Cherval, a rather small village...
For one thing, they have a much longer lunch....


This time of the year....
...there are pastures everywhere with cattle...

...mamas with big udders,

...watchful papas and the cutest babies...
California has an advertising campaign about our happy cows,
but I think these French cows are even happier.

And happy cows, and sheep and goats make me think 
about all the amzing cheese that you can find here;
and that is just one more reason that I keep coming back!

Still having my love affair with this little slice of heaven on earth.

Image (1) by Nicolas Fediaevsky