Concerti al Cenacolo – Vittorio Ghielmi/Les voix Humaines, les voix des Anges



Auditorium di S. Apollonia, Via S. Gallo 25, Firenze

Concerti al Cenacolo – Vittorio Ghielmi/Les voix Humaines, les voix des Anges

Vittorio Ghielmi, viola da gamba – Music by M. Marais, T. Hume, J. Jenkins, V. Ghielmi, G. P. Telemann, J.S. Bach, A. Forqueray, K. F. Abel

Tickets € 10

Program of the concert

Marin Marais (1656-1728) Basse de viole 
Sarabande à l’Espagnole 
Le Badinage 
Le Voix Humaines 

Captain Tobias Hume (1569 ca.-1645) 
Harke, harke
A Pavin 

Vittorio Ghielmi 
A Bagpipe 

John Jenkins (1592-1678) pardessus de viole 

Vittorio Ghielmi 
Slow ayre 
The jumping rabbit 
A springlike rain 

Antoine Forqueray (1672-1745) Basse de viole 
La Girouette (the weather vane) 


George Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Fantasia in g minor for solo viola da gamba 

J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Suite d minor BWV 1008 

Karl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787). 
2 pieces for solo viola da gamba, from the improvisation notebook


The imitation of the voice has always been considered the supreme purpose of all instruments. Most of the early European treaties begin precisely with this affirmation; the musical traditions of the whole world agree, even in the different cosmological visions, on this point. The last heir of the ancient Italian violin school, Niccolò Paganini, coined the expression “Il Suonar Parlante” to describe his ability to speak with the violin, giving perhaps the most concise definition of the phenomenon exactly at a historical moment, the beginning of the 19th century, in which an entire cultural tradition was about to be destroyed and forgotten and the musical instruments definitively modified.
Imitating the voice is not primarily a mechanical act of mimesis of the real human voice, but a creative act that is linked to the divine Voice: the voice that creates. In traditions as distant as early Christianity and Hinduism, there is a reference to the Voice, the Word that resounds (Logos, Bindu), the vibration as the only possible real link between spirit and matter, between the uncreated and the created. In this sense, the use of sound and music in liturgy, far from being a sort of sentimental ornament of the rite as it is today, embodied the ineffable and analogically manifested the invisible.  Composers, at least until the late Baroque, were always well aware of the value of sound as image of all creation, even in the different musical rhetorics.
In ancient treatises and writings, from the Italian Renaissance up to Jean Rousseau (Traité de viole, 1688) the viola da gamba was considered as one of the most suitable instruments for imitating the inflections and articulations of the human voice. Unmatched master of this use of the instrument was Marin Marais, who in his programmatic piece “Les Voix Humaines” reaches very sophisticated levels in the use of the instrument’s resonances.
Opposite Marais, known among his contemporaries as “the angel”, was the virtuoso Antoine Forqueray, also a violist at the court of Louis XIV and named “the devil” for his capricious character and for his “maudite” music. This evening’s program will include an Allemande by Forqueray, a noble and slow dance and a musical picture, La girouette or the wind vane, mimicked by the rapid and circular movement of the notes.
In the program, the two great Frenchmen are separated by a few musical pieces of very different character: those of the English navy captain Tobias Hume, who attempted, with his style of playing chords on the viol (lyra-viol style), to imitate the great lutenist John Dowland. In the Bagpipe that follows, the viol imitates the sound of the bagpipe, a very fashionable expedient at the time, through a specific tuning of the instrument. Before Forqueray and also inspired by the English lyra-viol style, but performed on a soprano instrument, some miniatures of our composition appear, which were composed for a Sony CD entitled The Passion of Music, that was awarded the Klassik-Echo Preis 2016.
Before the viola da gamba fell into oblivion in the nineteenth-century, a few generations of artists still dedicated themselves to it: one of the last was Carl Friedrich Abel. German by birth, he later moved to London where he collaborated with the last of Bach’s sons, Johann Christian. Abel, a great improviser, left behind a large number of compositions including a small notebook of manuscript pieces for the viol. Two pieces from this notebook will be performed at the end of the program. Before these compositions in the improvisational style, two groups of pieces by two of the greatest German composers will be performed: a Fantasia for viola da gamba by Telemann (in three movements), found a few years ago in a German castle and a suite by J.S. Bach (originally composed for cello). What do these compositions have in common? Both are part of collections that the most advanced musicology has defined as “didactic”. In the first case 12 Fantasies written by Telemann in all keys, in the second the famous 6 suites for cello. The beauty and complexity of these compositions is extremely amazing if we think that they were probably conceived only as didactic studies: for the queen of early instruments (the viola da gamba) and for the rampant young cello, which was just starting to  overcome its secondary role as continuo instrument and was beginning a promising career leading it to the virtuoso concerts of the romantic period.
Vittorio Ghielmi


For a better organization, booking of seats is recommended for all events. Access to all events will be allowed only to people equipped with a Green Pas or equivalent certification of vaccination or negative Covid test result.

We inform our public that, as of 6 August, according to the provisions of the D.L. 23 July 2021 n. 105 relating to “urgent measures to deal with the epidemiological emergency from COVID19 and for the safe exercise of social and economic activities”, s. The Covid-19 Green Pass certification attests one of the following conditions:
– being vaccinated for Covid-19
– being negative on the rapid molecular or antigen test within the last 48 hours
– being healed of Covid-19 in the past six months
The verification of the Green Pass will be carried out at the entrance of the various venues by the festival staff and will take place by showing the QR code of the green certification and a valid identity document. Those who are not in possession of even one of these two documents will not be able to access the event. We also remind you that the use of the mask will remain mandatory throughout the duration of the concerts/conversations and interpersonal distancing of at least one meter must be observed (with the exception of family members or cohabitants).



Auditorium di S. Apollonia, Via S. Gallo 25, Firenze

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