LA TABATIÈRE – un petit orchestre historique

Rebecca Raimondi, violin · Lorenzo Gabriele, traverso · Konstanze Waidosch, cello and viola da gamba · Bernhard Reichel, theorbo und lute · Alexander Von Heißen, spinet

From the project description of La Tabatière – un petit orchestre historique

A Journey in the Footsteps of the Edinburgh Musical Society

Towards the end of the 17th century, Edinburgh’s social and cultural life awakened to new splendour. Several elements contributed to this positive development: the increasing wealth of Edinburgh as a trading centre; the spread of jurisprudence, medicine and good schools; the increasing annoyance of the upper classes at the censorship imposed by the church on their social entertainments; the Europe-wide enthusiasm for the new Italian and French Baroque music which could be experienced by Scottish travellers in relatively close proximity, in places such as London, Paris, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg; and finally, Freemasonry – a secret religious movement which at that time was spreading all over Europe and was taken up by many Scots. Freemasonry was based on a belief in the innate goodness of human beings and in the possibility of overcoming  barriers between Protestants and Catholics and between the upper and lower classes. So in the early 18th century, in Edinburgh, there was a series of concerts as well as a club influenced by Masonic thought where aristocratic musical amateurs met up with professional musicians from humbler classes, discussing and playing music together on an equal footing. In 1728, this club was officially established as Edinburgh Musical Society. It offered musicians well-paid employment and a meeting point for art music which had been lacking in Scotland since the departure of James VI (five generations before). At the same time, the club attracted foreign musicians to Edinburgh, many of them known or becoming known as first-class artists.

With its unusual, very special and entertaining programme, our ensemble La Tabatière – un petit orchestre historique – would like to achieve three main goals:

First we would like to refreshing the splendour of and interest in  music composed or performed in Edinburgh in the 18th century, at the turn of the late Baroque to the classical period, and in works which were most popular at the cultural and social events organised by the Edinburgh Musical Society.

Secondly we aim to enhance the status of the anonymous spinet (albeit signed by Neil Stewart), by imagining his music workshop as the point of reference for our (time) travel to Edinburgh. We will walk towards South Bridge and his shop, just a stone’s throw from St Cecilia’s Hall (where from 1763 the Society’s official events were held) and purchase sheet music and other scores by well-known musicians of the past, as well as some by composers who in those days were innovative and fashionable. We will get together and play these pieces on our instruments and on the spinet from Stewart’s own workshop which most probably graced the elegant salon of an aristocratic Scottish music enthusiast of the time. And finally we will share our experiences with our beloved audiences, in a small, very exclusive house concert by La Tabatière, our very own small, but exclusive Musical Society.

The third goal is simply to celebrate the birthday of our popular composer, Carl Friedrich Abel (born on 22 December 1723 in Köthen), who, of course, from his London base was continuously in touch with the Society and even played a small part in its artistic development … A nice quartet by him will also feature in the concert programme.

Concert Programme
Works by Francesco Barsanti (1690 – 1775), William McGibbon (1690 – 1756), Francesco Geminiani (1687 – 1762), Carl Friedrich Abel (1723 – 1787), Johann Georg Christoph Schetky (1737 – 1824) and Domenico Corri (1746 – 1825)

LA TABATIÈRE - un petit orchestre historique