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City Life

music by Rameau and Steve Reich

dance music from 18th century

surrounding 20th century city sounds

Saturday 10th June 2017, 7.00pm

St John's Waterloo, London SE1 8TY

Rameau Le temple de la Gloire overture (1745)

Rameau Naïs overture (1749) 

Steve Reich City Life (1995)

Rameau Les Indes galantes suite (1735)

The Asyla Ensemble presents an extraordinary evening of twentieth-century city sounds recorded in New York surrounded by eighteenth-century Parisian dance music.

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), always spotted under a wig, wrote his third opera-ballet, Les Indes Galantes, aged 52 on the subject of gods, goddesses, palaces, gardens and a volcano. His orchestral writing is some of the most thrilling ever written. Visceral outbursts, contrasting with sultry temperaments, paint Rameau as expert of baroque dance forms and the art of surprise.

Le temple de la Gloire (The Temple of Glory), written ten years later than Les Indes Galantes, is Rameau's setting of a libretto by Voltaire. When first encountering Rameau, Voltaire wrote ‘unfortunately [he] knows even more about music than Lully. He is a musical pedant, a stickler for detail, and is a bore!’ However soon he sought to collaborate – yet Rameau turned down the most popular playwright of the century! After another quarrel they fell out again in the 1730s but by 1745 they must have been on better terms because they produced two giant works in partnership. The process wasn’t easy however… There seems to have been much aggression, bickering, and aesthetic discourse; Voltaire complained in repeated letters that Rameau was ‘mad’ and he even attempted to have him removed from the project of Le temple de la Gloire on several occasions. Soon after their two collaborations in 1745, Rameau was appointed Compositeur de la Chambre du Roi (Composer of the King’s Chamber).

Steve Reich (b.1936), nearly always found underneath a baseball cap, wrote City Life in 1995 for Ensemble Modern, the London Sinfonietta, and the Ensemble Intercontemporain. To international acclaim, his music researches rhythm and the interplay between live and recorded sounds.

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