“Harpsichord According to Jean Rondeau,” on Arte.tv, The Man of Non-Verbal Rhetoric


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Jean Rondeau und das Cembalo 
Jean Rondeau stimmt sein Cembalo: Der junge Franzose hat das Instrument wieder ins Rampenlicht gerückt.
© Nikolai Sevke
Foto: NDR
Honorarfreie Verwendung nur im Zusammenhang mit genannter Sendung und bei folgender Nennung

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It doesn’t look like a job, if indeed it’s a “work” A harpsichordist has a certain face: a little lumberjack, bearded and disheveled, John Rondo (born in 1991) was soon dubbed the “Ukulele Music Superstar”. Which is (almost) good: in addition to being the most exciting French harpist of his generation, the young man is an excellent jazz pianist.

What does not excite him next to the documentary photo The harpsichord according to Jean Rondeau, by Andreas Morell, dedicated to him by Arte, who prefers to focus on the main activity of a musician (he is also a composer: he wrote the delicate and very French music for the film PaulaAnd by Christian Schwochow, released in 2017) and followed it up on a European tour. All this is punctuated by fairly long musical sequences either solo or with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.

We can’t say that the words of Jean Rondeau, carried in ripped jeans, shirt sleeves over a tank top and a thick bust, are memorable: he’s obviously not one of those whose words sometimes hide weaknesses but when he plays, Rondeau gets to turn things around, Partly thanks to the exquisite touch and rich musical imagination.

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As he explains, Rondo belongs to that generation of “baroque” (a term originally pejorative, but which has become mainstream and is less alarming than the phrase “historically informed interpreter”) who started directly with the harpsichord without going through an apprenticeship on the piano, as was the case in the past.

In the mid-1990s, when the vogue for early music was in full swing, there were enough young practicing harpists to make a 5-year-old want to learn this instrument, which had been replaced by the fortepiano. But, contrary to what is often said, the harpsichord did not give way to a more sophisticated instrument: it disappeared because it had reached an insurmountable stage of refinement in its virtuosity.

And he was only nineteenH Some artists began (re)turning to still-preserved historic instruments (which were then called “Gothic”), while the Pleyel House developed the first harpsichord of modern construction on the occasion of the 1889 World’s Fair.

during the second half of the twentieth centuryH During the century, a return to the originals and the development of mirrors became imperative. Part of the documentary also focuses on Czech producer Jukka Ollikka, who is creating a new harpsichord according to the old canons. Even if, during a concert, the instrument barely got out of the workshop it was still a little “green”.

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Jean Rondieu says about Concerto in D minor BWV 1052 Johann Sebastian Bach “unique” without knowing “Explain why”. But we all understand when we hear him play his slow motion with haunting figures and tortured harmonies, a bit like V21.H affiliate Goldberg Variations Rondo explains it later in the movie. He may not always have the words, but the musician certainly has other rhetoric.

Harpsichord according to Jean RondeauAnd By Andreas Morel (German, 2022, 43 min). Available on Arte.tv until June 2.


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