Classical spree - Saturday - Piano Nobile

14. Theorbo and Guitar in the Baroque Era

14. Theorbo and Guitar in the Baroque Era

Piano Nobile

Hailed by critics for his musical intelligence and remarkable technique, Sylvain Bergeron is a tireless musical explorer. To the sound of the chitarrone or guitar, he will lead you through 17th century Italy, offering up some of his most exquisite discoveries. Travel and hear the music of Piccinini, Granata, and Pellegrini, composers representative of the Italian baroque.


Sylvain Bergeron, chitaronne and baroque guitar

Early Music: Toccatas and italian dances from 17th century

“What I carried away from the recital more than anything else were Bergeron’s superb sense of rhythm, his sensitiveness of touch and the expressiveness of his playing.” – The Whole Note




SATURDAY August 10, 2019

1:15 P.M.

Redirection vers la Place des Arts


This program is centred on the city of Bologna. Alessandro Piccinini, who belonged to a famous lutenist family from nearby Ferrara, published his two collections of lute music there. In the preface to his 1623 collection, he claims to have invented a kind of chitarrone (long-necked bass lute or theorbo) and gives several valuable cues for performance, such as highlighting dissonances and bringing out themes in imitative passages. Granata and Pellegrini were both Bolognese guitarists; in fact, Granata was the most prolific guitarist of the 17th century despite his lifelong parallel career as a barber. His style was more adventurous than Pellegrini’s, making use of the guitar’s bell-like open strings and extended upper register, and his seven collected volumes show special interest in genres such as the toccata and passacaglia in addition to the usual dances.

This survey of 17th-century plucked string repertoire features virtuosic, quasi-improvisatory toccatas that mingle chords with running passagework, as well as variations over repeating bass patterns—Granata’s Passacagli and Piccinini’s Partite variate over the simple four-chord folia sequence. Dances include the cheerful corrente in flowing triple meter, the rollicking 6/8 gagliarda with its occasional hemiola, the expansive duple-meter allemanda and its near-equivalent the balletto, and the dignified brando, a popular French group dance imported to Italy.


Sylvain Bergeron