About the Style Galante
Once again, the Dutch Lute Association is organizing a festival in collaboration with the Early Music Festival and once again we are looking for a lesser-known part of lute music. The late 'gallant' music has hardly been published in modern editions and sparsely in facsimiles, and the performances that can be found on the internet often date from the end of the last century and are not always of good quality. So it's high time for a revaluation of this music!
The period between 'Baroque' and 'Classical' is generally quite unknown. However, it is precisely during this transitional period that there is much to discover. Composers experiment with form and style, which sometimes results in surprisingly beautiful music.
What probably does not help us appreciate that period, is the image we have of the Rococo, the period after the Baroque: an abundance of decorations, sweet colors and pink little angels hanging over the edge of a painting. However, this can also be looked at differently. Although the Baroque style is decorated, it is quite strict and symmetrical. Rococo is a response to that. If you can leave out the excess and the sugary sweet colors, the playfulness and lightness stand out.
I myself gave in on a holiday in which, after having visited stately baroque houses with beautiful solid stucco and ceiling paintings, I came to a house in which the stucco consisted of slender branches with birds and where in the tea cupola in the garden there were butterflies and flowers on the walls and ceiling. The angels suddenly turned out to be just funny and naughty sometimes. And in a church one sometimes can be surprised by a three-dimensional stone cloth hanging from a window.
It is the same with music from this period. Sometimes it is still stately – fugues were also written in the later 18th century – but it is also light-hearted, 'gallant' and the music is played with timbre, dynamics and unexpected turns.
New in this period is the role played by the lute in ensemble music. This changes from playing continuo via doubling the violin and cello parts to an independent leading role. The lute takes on more or less the same function as we know from piano concertos from the 19th century: sometimes the leading role, sometimes accompanying, but always with its own, elaborate 'obligate' part. Much of the music is with strings, but there is also music with flute, sometimes combined with strings, oboe, initially also with viola da gamba, and even pieces with (natural) horns.