"I doubt anyone who had never heard Favella Lyrica could imagine what they do, or how well they do it: We've never heard anything quite like the duet singing of Pamela Murray and Pamela Dellal." 



Rococo Splendor

with guest artists:
Roxanne Layton, recorders
Roy Sansom, recorders
Shannon Natale, baroque cello


What is Rococo? Although the music of the Rococo is some of the most familiar to concert goers, the msucial term might seem to elude a simple definition. Borrowed from the visual arts and particularly from architecture, Rococo means ornate, highly decorative, almost to a fault. In music, rococo style co-existed with the rhythmic, ordered chromaticism of the high Baroque, and is an essential part of the synthesis of style in the music of the early 18th century masters Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi, and Bach. What distinguishes music as particularly rococo is an emphasis on decorative virtuoisity, an elegance of melodic structure, and a movement away from seamless, fugal texture towards closed, periodic phrasing that developed into the stil galant of the 1760's and ultimately into the Classical style of Mozart and Haydn.

To highlight the brilliance of the Rococo we have chosen a program that elaborates our customary duet texture with an expanded color palatte of obbligato instruments. Our first selection, Proceed, sweet charmer of the ear by Philip Hart, is from early in the 18th century and is constructed as four treble parts on a ground. Contrapuntalmovement over a ground, a compositional style mastered by Purcell, is far from the periodic phrase structures of the latter part of the Baroque, but the recurrence of the bass ground dues provide natural punctuation to the otherwise overlapping voices, whose intertwining texture exists to ravish the ear.

Benedetto Marcello, like many of his Italian contemporaries, moved very far toward the melocid character of the stil galant. the Salmo Decimoquinto, with its unusual scoring for obbligato cello and low voice, creates sonorities of uncanny sweetness. The virtuoisic element is in the high. lyric writing for the cello (Marcello was an amateur, but accomplished cellist). Marcello wrote 50 of these Psalm settings which were not intended for church performance, as the paraphrased Italian translation of the Vulgate made them unsuitable for the liturgy. As with several of his other psalm settings, this piece incorporates the melody of a Ashkenazic Hebrew chant (Ma'oz Tzur) for the Presto movement near the end of the piece. The text of the psalm mecessitates an interesting structural layout of alternating recitatives and arias -- not da capo -- that closely mirror the various moods of the psalm.

Handel wrote Italian duets at two different times in his life: once in 1710-11, while he was in Italy, and later in the 1740's, in London. Va, speme infida pur is from the first period. A highly intense and serious work, it displays an impressive range of dramatic and emotional color which Handel would later develop in his operatic works. NĂ², di voi non vo' fidarmi was written in 1741, less than a year before the first performance of Messiah, which incorporates material from it. Although as virtuosic as the earlier piece, the coloratura is more playful and witty, while the inevitable comparisons it evokes with its later reworkings in Messiah are grounds for even more delight, perhaps, than its composer intended.


Philip Hart

Proceed, sweet charmer of the ear
from Ode in Praise of Musick (1703)

Benedetto Marcello

Salmo Decimoquinto, for voice,'cello obbligato and continuo

George Frideric Handel

Va, speme infida pur
Nò, di voi non vo' fidarmi


Georg Philip Telemann

In gering' und rauhen Schalen

Giovanni Battista Sammartini

Duo in a minor

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (arr. by Roy Sansom)

Tu vuoi ch'io viva
Deh t'accheta e non negarmi
Tu resterai, mia cara