Friday, March 25, 2011

Marin Marais - La Folia - The Purcell Quartet







The name "Folia" is of Iberian origin and refers to a fertility dance in three-four time originating in the late 15th century. The first time the name emerges is in a text by the Portuguese dramatist Gil Vicente entitled "Auto de Sibilla Cassandra". In music Folia meant, at least till the 1670's, a very quick-paced and tumultuous dance, in which the dancers carried men dressed as women upon their shoulders. They were literally driven mad by the noise and the stirring rhythm. La Folia, literally meaning madness, folly, or empty-headedness is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of music. The "later" Folia, the one known today, was image standardized by Jean-Baptiste Lully in 1672 as Air des hautbois. The melody and harmony have been used by numerous composers, most frequently as a basis for variations. These range from the Baroque -- Corelli's Violin Sonata in D minor, Op. 5, No. 12 (1700) -- to the twentieth century: Hans-Martin Linde's Una Follia nuova for treble recorder (1989). In between, there are Marais' Les folies d'Espagne for viols (1701); Vivaldi's Trio sonata "La Follia," Op. 1/12, RV 63 (1705); A. Scarlatti's Variazioni su "La Follia" for keyboard (1723); C.P.E. Bach's 12 Variationen auf die Folie d'Espagne, Wq 118/9, H263, for keyboard, (1778); Salieri's XXVI Variazioni sull'aria La Follia di Spagna for orchestra (1815); Sor's Les folies d'Espagne et un menuet, Op. 15a, for guitar (ca. 1815); Berlioz' La Folia for guitar (ca. 1820); Ponce's Tema, 20 Variaciones & Fuga sobre La Follia for guitar (1930); Rachmaninov's Variations on a theme of Corelli, Op. 42, for piano (1932); Henze's Aria de la Folia española for chamber orchestra (1977); and Malipiero's Aria variata sulla Follia for guitar (1979). The melody is quoted in J.S. Bach's Peasant Cantata, BWV 212 (1742); Cherubini's overture to L'hôtellerie portugaise (1798); Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 6 in E minor; and in Liszt's Rhapsodie espanole (1863). These are by no means all of the works that have used La folia as a starting point. The ways in which the meter, rhythm, and harmony can be varied are innumerable and still being explored. In fact the theme of La Folia has never been so popular for composers as in the last decades. The most striking feature of La Folia, however, is that the theme is not well-known to a larger public, although more than 150 composers for over 330 years made lots of brilliant variations. 


flac, booklet

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