OF THE many forms of classical music that can be heard in the Slovak capital, one that audiences seem especially responsive to is early music, i.e. music from the Middle Ages through the Baroque period that fell out of fashion after about 1750 and was re-discovered in the late 19th century.
In Bratislava there are two regular cycles of early music, one organised by the Slovak Philharmonic, marked SH (stará hudba, meaning early music), and the Musica Poetica da Camera series, played by the Solamente Naturali ensemble on Sundays in Café Berlinka at the Slovak National Gallery. One programme within this cycle is called Historical Instruments.

Solamente Naturali, led by Miloš Valent, has joined forces with young Slovak cellist Michal Sťahel and features the cello in its repertoire of Italian composers (who were also cellists) working at the Vienna royal court in the first half of the 18th century. The concert was called Vienna 1720 and works by Nicola Porpora, Antonio Caldara, Giovanni Battista Bononcini and Giovanni Perroni were performed by the Concerto per Camera con Violoncello Obligato by Andrea Zani, from the collection of the counts of Schönborn from Wiesentheid.

The cello that Sťahel played for his solo part was borrowed from the Esterházy Stiftung (Foundation) Eisenstadt. “I have chosen the pieces very carefully with regard to musicians who worked in Vienna at the time when the cello I played was made,” Sťahel wrote for The Slovak Spectator. “This concert is part of the recording now in preparation on which I want to present several world premiere recordings of works almost 300 years old that could have theoretically been played on this instrument,” he explained.

The chamber concert Sťahel will perform on June 10 in the Reduta building of the Slovak Philharmonic is focused on this period, too, and is called – unsurprisingly – Vienna 1720. However, in addition to works by Porpora, Caldara and Bononcini, Sťahel will also perform pieces by Francesco Alborea, Francesco Paolo Supriano and Johann Georg Reutter Jr, with soprano Julia Kirchner, and Igor Davidovics on teorba and Soma Dinyés on cembalo and positive organ.

The Early Music (Stará Hudba) cycle will continue into the next season.

Big festival

A big music festival is coming in early June, called The Days of Early Music. The festival, organised by the Centre of Early Music, will take place between June 1 and 9 at various sites around Bratislava. The last performance (an opera about adventurer Móric Beňovský, or Benyovszky, by Adrien Boieldieu) will, due to its complexity and difficult production, be performed on November 12.

This 19th year of the event that rediscovers music from several centuries ago revolves around French music, especially marking the 250th anniversary of the death of Jean Philippe Rameau. Some of the musicians, like Pascal Dubreuil, Delphine Loeroy and Emily Audouin, are also of French provenance. Chamber works of Rameau’s contemporaries (Marin Marais, Saint Colombe and Robert de Visée) will be played by Romina Lischka and Sofia Venden Eynde on viola da gamba and teorba, the organising Center of Early Music informed.

Other concerts include the suite to Rameau’s operas/ballets Les Indes Galantes and Anacréon performed by the Musica Aeterna ensemble, led by Peter Zajíček and French soloists; French vocal troupe Ensemble Clément Janequin with French and Spanish Renaissance vocal music; a jubilee concert of the Lotz Trio; and a presentation of a book, as well as a lecture on Rameau’s operas with musical demonstrations and a workshop of historical dances.

Full information on concerts, venues and tickets can be found at www.earlymusic.sk