“And now for something completely different.”
Monty Python.

Hello and welcome back to our brand new season of, Da Da Daaa, “Premieres”, during which, alongside Bach Cantatas, you will hear works that are either being performed for the first time in over 250 years, or have been newly written for De Swaen.

Just as musicians in the 18th century played recently-made instruments, the music they played was usually also newly-written. Ever-changing musical fashions kept composers busy writing works that were performed maybe only once or a handful of times - far from the repetition of today’s cannonism. JS Bach’s music, for instance, was already considered “old fashioned” by the time he had moved to Leipzig in 1723. Thank goodness it didn’t stop him!
In HIP (Historically Informed Performance), however much we lovingly try to recreate these sounds using evidence from the time, we have to accept that now, it’s not then, it’s now! There is no way of knowing if we really have got it right (but that’s not going to stop us doing what we love). Audiences have changed too -
We are very glad that you decide to come to our concerts. This series, we offer something extra: not only the thrill of a live performance but also the chance to experience something you have definitely never heard before.

Fragment uit Swaen Suite van Des McNutty

An advantage of performing works by living composers is that they can be present in rehearsals to communicate their wishes directly. In return, we have set the composers certain conditions for their pieces so that they complement our programmes and are relatively quick to prepare, making further performances by other ensembles a practical possibility. The rest is up to them.

     It would be difficult to arrange playing to the ears of an 18th century audience.

We have requested the following: That the new work be based on a chorale tune from the relevant time in the liturgical calendar; that the composer writes the piece in a week- a normal time frame in the 18th century; that we can prepare the piece from sight to concert platform (without conductor) after less than six hours’ rehearsal; that the composer considers using such elements of 18th century music as: microtonal/resonant tuning, folk music, dance forms, improvisation and rhetorical affects.
Affects are musical figures that persuade listeners towards feeling certain emotions. As we all know, emotions are not always pleasant. Affects are a staple of Rhetorical (pre-Romantic) music, exploited by instrumentalists and used to emphasise the meaning of vocal texts.

First up, an ex-pulveris cantata by J.S. Bach’s colleague, Ch. Graupner and something from the still-dripping pen of the enigmatic Des McNutty. We know he wrote this piece in a week because we only asked him two weeks ago and the score arrived last Saturday.

Remember: You heard it here first.

Mike Diprose
September 2009



Des McNutty
Fanfare to open the season (2009)

Chr. Graupner
Rühme dich nicht des morgenden Tages, GWV 1157/33

Des McNutty
Swaen Suite (2009)
Premiere, Commissioned by De Swaen

J.S. Bach
Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens, BWV 148

Sat 26th & Sun 27th September 2009