L’AIMABLE (Kindness) by Joseph Nicolas Pancrace Royer – Composer (1705-1755)
Claudine Gómez-Vuistaz – Harpsichordist
It is a rare privilege to hear “live” harpsichord music. Those interested in Baroque music, a Western classical style music from 1600 to 1750, will have such unique opportunity to experience as Mexican born harpsichord performer Claudine Gómez-Vuistaz steps tonight on stage at Antonello Hall at MacPhail Center for Music. This event is sponsored by the prestigious one-hundred year old Minnesotan musical school and the Mexican Consulate in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Gómez-Vuistaz, who also performed on June 9, 2012 at Lloyd Ultan Recital Hall at the University of Minnesota, showcased French Baroque music for harpsichord. Her new CD “La Pléiade” contains a wide selection of instrumental compositions by French composers including Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), Gaspard le Roux (1660-1707), Jacques Duphly (1715-178), and Joseph Nicolas Pancrace Royer (1705-1755).
Among some of the favorite pieces performed were “La Marche des Scythes (March of the Scythians), and “L’Aimable (Kindness) by Joseph Nicolas Pancrace Royer who was born in Turin, France. As a composer and harpsichordist, and at the age of twenty-nine years old, Pancrace Royer became “maître de musique des enfants de France, responsible for the musical education of the children of the king, Louis XV.” In 1753, he became music director of the Royal Opera orchestra, writing six operas, of which the “ballet-héroïque Zaïde, reine de Grenade was his most popular opera.
For Claudine Gómez-Vuistaz, who studied at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City under the tutelage of Luisa Duron, her dedication to performing this musical genre and music of French and Mexican composers is no coincidence. Having inherited the love of baroque music from her father Claudio who was born in Paris, France, Claudine has devoted most of her professional life to teaching and performing baroque music; and her album is a way to honor her father’s memory. Claudine’s early fascination with harpsichord music and this antique musical instrument came from her mother, Emma Gomez, who is a renowned Mexican harpsichordist herself, performer, and a music teacher who taught piano at their home in Mexico City.
“That experience I hold as something wonderful, and I never doubted what I wanted to do in my life – to play the harpsichord,” says Gómez-Vuistaz.
Gomez-Vuistaz adds, “In Mexico there is a grand tradition in harpsichord music and Mexican baroque music that today we highlight throughout ambitious projects.” For the last ten years, Claudine coordinates a permanent cycle of classical/baroque music that specializes in the repertoire of harpsichord music, of which over 60 harpsichord performers from all over the world have attended. Other highly popular festivals include “Festival de Música Barroca” which is held in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.
“Baroque music forms a major portion of the classical music canon. Composers of the baroque era also include Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederic Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi, George Philipp Teleman, Claudio Monteverdi, and Henry Purcell.”
After this year’s death of Gustav Leonhardt, the most important harpsichord performer since the grand composers of the 18th century, Gómez-Vuistaz said,
“All harpsichord performers have the task to continue disseminating harpsichord music, and to teach young musicians this wonderful music and the beauty of this instrument.”
One of the principal characteristics of French music for harpsichord was its search for expression, particularly the pieces of “character” which were dedicated to some honorable person and social influence.
Claudine Gómez-Vuistaz goes on to emphasize that while the fortepiano was becoming the fashionable musical instrument of Europe in the late 18th century, in France, harpsichord music was still vibrant and it was in its last boom. In its own way, but not without quality, the music repertoire contained in her new album is a sample of some of the most recognized pieces of French music for harpsichord of the 18th century and perhaps considered the swan’s last songs for harpsichord.