With this media carrier the ensemble first of all presents their selection of the repertoire of the Late Baroque composed by the German and French composers of the 18th century. Though among the European countries Italy led in many aspects as the homeland of the greatest strings virtuosi, who were simultaneously composers of music for the mentioned instruments, it is interesting to observe the repercussions of the Italian style in the opuses of the composers from the neighbouring countries, primarily the rival-oriented France as well as Germany. When we mention these countries, it is quite clear that often, more than their territorial system, it is the characteristics of the particular national style and the attitude towards the instruments and their specific sound combinations that they are defined by. In this sense the borders among them disappear, due to the fact that many French and German composers took over Italian models and imitated them in their own opuses. The directly responsible composer for this assimilation of the Italian style in France was François Couperin with his concept of the Les goûts réunis [united taste] by which he induced much criticism in his country from the purists there. Following the same concept in composing was one of the founders of the French violinist school, Jean-Marie Leclair who, similarly to Couperin interconnected the trio sonata as a typically Italian form (brought to excellence in Arcangelo Corelli’s opus) with elements of a dance suite as the French form par excellence, by the use of specific graciously ornamented French melodics. In the Sonata in D major à trois, along with the inevitable presence of the basso continuo in the part of the harpsichord, the violin and viola da gamba play at an equal level. The viola da gamba is the French equivalent of the violoncello, already very popular in Italy. After the introductory Adagio saturated by short motifs characteristic of the French style, there follows the imitative Allegro formed in the manner of the Italian canzona (the theme starts with the repetition of the same tonal height), while the two last movements bring us back onto the French domain, owing to the clear and articulate melodical phrases of the Sarabande and the concertante and virtuoso cascades of the concluding, predominately homophone Allegro.
Among the composers of German origin we have given priority to Johann Sebastian Bach who very early understood the importance of the Italian baroque style, and like many other contemporaries started imitating Italian models in his own opus. The quality ofthe expression by which he interconnected the Italian brio and the typical German style condensed by counterpoint is the fundamental feature of many concertante and chamber compositions of this genius composer. In the case of the Sonata in D major Bach divided the two upper sections between the sections of the viola da gamba and the concertante harpsichord. They equally dialogize accompanied by numerous counterpoint tricks that can be observed by careful listening, not only beneath the expressive melodious phrases of the introductory Adagio or the later third movement rich in chromaticism; they are also imperative formations in the even movements whose concertatne character never boils down to frivolous virtuoso formulas but they develop into a complex style of the soloist instruments. Written in the same period, the Sonata for the violin and continuo in G major, BWV 1021 has a similar concept. Outer voices are in an uninterrupted counterpoint dialogue, so that the instruments that perform the basso continuo – in this case the harpsichord and viola da gamba – are equal to the violin and in this sense also treated virtuously. Elements of the concertante style are present in all the four movements – in the fast movements by uninterrupted shifting of the focus from the violin to the continuo and vice versa; in slow movements by the virtuoso violin passages and ornaments, interweaving melodies close to the luxuriant improvisations which Arcangelo Corelly employed to directly enrich simple melodious patterns of his violin sonatas.
Jean-Philippe Rameau also assigned the concertante virtuoso expression to the harpsichord. His Pieces de clavecin en concert date from the last creative period and are the only chamber work in his entire opus. Though composed in the manner of trio, these concertos are in contrast of the trios of Corelli’s type where the harpsichord is reduced to the instrument in the function of the continuo. On the contrary, Rameau assigned the central role of the concertante instrument (we can find some similarity with Bach’s sonatas for the harpsichord obbligato and violin but also in the concertos for the harpsichord and orchestra), that is “accompanied” by the violin and viola da gamba and enriches it with its melodious commentaries. The Fifth concerto is the last in the range of these concertos, and its movements bear the names of the persons to whom he had dedicated them – out of this number we definitely know Forqueray and Marais, both the first gambists at the court of Louis Xiy whom the contemporaries considered to be the greatest French virtuosi on the viola da gamba. It was exactly this instrument, otherwise the favourite of Louis XIX that was the trademark of the French Baroque; along with the viola da gamba there were regularly connected connotations of the French court and everything that was refined which the French considered to be the fundamental attribute of their musical taste (le bon gout), immanent to their own, but unknown to other nations. In the complex relations regarding Italian music of that time it was exactly the viola da gamba that served to the French as an equal rival to the violin, that typical Italian instrument.
The report from the promotion:
The Ensemble Symblema was founded in the year 2009 by Bojan Čičić, Nika Zlatarić and Pavao Mašić, all of them renowned musicians of the younger generation. Their interest for the baroque music and the music of affiliated epochs originates from the student days spent at the music academies and institutions of higher learning in Zagreb, Paris, London, Lausanne, Friburg, Oberlin, Rochester and The Hague. In their artistic activities they dedicated themselves to the interpretation of the Early music, playing on original period instruments or their replicas, combining their own artistic intuition and creativity with the historically informed performance practice. In this sense they have chosen the name for the ensemble, symblema, one of the many harmonic figures of the baroque music that unites dissonance with the otherwise consonance harmonic surrounding as a pre-condition of a livelier, more complete and spontaneous musical experience of the listener and performer. For their debut at the 40th Varaždin Baroque Evenings in the year 2010, the ensemble was awarded the Ivan Lukačić Prize, which the festival jury traditionally awards to the best festival performances.
Bojan Čičić originally graduated with a diploma in modem violin from the Zagreb Academy of Music. After finishing his studies at the Paris Conservatoire and The Guildhall School of Music and Drama with F. Fernandez and Rachel Podger, he embarked on a career as a chamber musician and leader using the vast and diverse musical influence he was lucky to have gained in his formative years. He regularly performs with UK leading ensembles and orchestras: The Academy of Ancient Music, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Florilegium. In August 2006 Trevor Pinnock asked him to be one of the soloists in the European Brandenburg Ensemble on their tour across Europe and in the Far East. Their recording of Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concertos won the Gramophone Award in 2008. Since becoming the principal violinist of the ensemble Florilegium in 2010, he regularly leads this group in their various orchestral and chamber projects in the most renowned concert halls: The Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Goncertgebouw, Singapore. Future projects include leading the ensemble La Nuova Musica on their five recordings for Harmonia Mundi USA with the director David Bates, as well as an exciting tour with his own group Suonar Cantando of Venetian, Croatian and Viennese baroque music, taking place in Belgium and The Netherlands in November 2012. Later that year, he was asked to lead the European Union Baroque Orchestra on their tour with Lars-Ulrik Mortensen. Bojan plays on a violin by F.Rugieri cca. 1680, kindly loaned to him by the Jumpstart Junior Foundation.
After completing her study of the violoncello in Zagreb and Oberlin (USA), Nika Zlatarić won her Masters’ degree in the violoncello and pedagogy of music theory at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester (USA). Her devotion to Early music and historically informed manner of performance took her to The Netherlands in the year 2007. In 2010 she received her Masters’ degree in the baroque violoncello from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in the class ofjaap ter Linden. She participated in master classes held by leading names of Early music interpretation like Ton Koopman, Elisabeth Wallfisch, Wieland Kuijken, Jacques Ogg, Paul O’Dette and Malcolm Bilson. She had the opportunity to appear with various ensembles in the Carnegie Hall (New York) and Concertgebouw (Amsterdam). Her significant concert activities is linked to the ensembles Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, B’ Rock, New London Consort, Wallfisch Band, The Bach Orchestra of The Netherlands, Harmonious Blacksmith and the Croatian Baroque Ensemble.
The Croatian harpsichordist and organist Pavao Mašić graduated from the Zagreb Music Academy in the study of the harpsichord in the class of Višnja Mažuran and the organ in the class of Mario Penzar. He then completed his postgraduate soloist study of the organ with honours in the class of Kei Koito at the Haut École de Musique in Lausanne. This was followed by the postgraduate study of the harpsichord and affiliated keyboard instruments in the class of Dr Robert Hill at the Musikhochs- chule in Freiburg im Br. In the past three years he continuously works with the eminent contemporary harpsichordists like Pierre Hantai, Christophe Rousset and Skip Sempé, under whose leadership he dedicated himself to the repertoire of compositions ofj. S. Bach and French baroque composers. Along with the continuous engagement with Early music through the co-operation with foreign and all Croatian ensembles and orchestras, Pavao Mašić was awarded for his musical achievement with several international awards (in Croatia, Switzerland and Spain). Among them the following should be singled out: Grand Prix Bach de Lausanne and the Ivo Vuljević Best Young Musicians Award awarded in 2006 by the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall. There are also two awards worth mentioning that are assigned to artists for outstanding appearances at the Varaždin Baroque Evenings: the Jurica Muraj Award for the solo organ recital and the Vjesnik Award Kantor for the best interpretation ofj. S. Bach’s composition. In the year 2011 he published his first solo CD in the Croatia Records edition titled 1685, dedicated to the harpsichord pieces of J. S. Bach, G. F. Händel and D. Scarlatti.