FINNISH BAROQUE ORCHESTRA (FiBO)
New commissions for period instruments, fresh interpretations of old repertoire, courageous and innovative working methods, unique concepts that engage a diverse audience – FiBO offers all this while being an influential force in the Nordic cultural scene.
Founded in 1989, the Finnish Baroque Orchestra has consolidated its position within the Finnish orchestral scene. Since its inception, FiBO has collaborated with some of the foremost soloists and concertmasters of the age and performed a wide-ranging repertoire. The focus is generally on Baroque music, but the orchestra often explores works from other periods too, from early Baroque to early Romanticism. FiBO also plays contemporary music composed for period instruments, and has even commissioned several works itself. The musicians of the core ensemble often perform as chamber musicians. In its largest manifestations the orchestra can be heard playing symphony-orchestra repertoire and in opera performances.
FiBO regularly performs as orchestra in residence at the festive House of Nobility in Helsinki and tours widely across Finland. The orchestra also frequently performs at major Finnish festivals including the Helsinki Festival, the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, and the Turku Music Festival. Abroad FiBO has given performances at concert halls across Germany, Austria, Spain, East Europe and the Nordic countries.
Throughout its history, FiBO has been a forerunner in the Finnish music scene. Beginning life as the Sixth Floor Orchestra, it has played an important role in the emergence of the early-music movement in Northern Europe. As the orchestra has developed, FiBO’s exciting performances, creative programming and innovative projects, have caught the attention of concert organisers both in Finland and abroad. From widening economic support at home to growing popularity abroad, and with awards including Finnish Musical Act of the Year and Disc of the Year (Yle), FiBO continues to forge a unique path as a Baroque orchestra for the 21st century.
Moramoramor, the first album by FiBO Records, was released in November 2017 and has received a warm welcome. It contains the third and fifth Brandenburg Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach, concertos by Vivaldi with the orchestra’s own soloists, and Jukka Tiensuu’s Mora, the first Finnish piece composed for a large Baroque orchestra. The second album by FiBO Records, Helsinki Window contains contemporary music for baroque instruments.
At home in Germany, Georg Kallweit became interested even as a young man in the performing practices of the Baroque and Classicism. He has been a member of many early music ensembles and is now soloist and leader of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. He has been Artistic Director of the Encanto festival in Finland since 2015, has taught at the Sibelius Academy and appeared frequently with the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and the Finnish Baroque Orchestra. He plays a Camillus Camilli violin of 1740. Georg Kallweit loves life in all its myriad details: its joys and sorrows, the flowers in the fields, the bees in the meadows, the insects on the leaf, and he has an endless curiosity in everything around him.
Though singled out for her singing voice and assigned a solo in a great Mass when she was only five, Silvia Frigato did not gain widespread recognition until she won the Francesco Provenzale competition in Naples in 2007 and the Fatima Terzo competition three years later. Since then, she has ranked among the early-music elite at European opera houses and concert halls. Recent years have included appearances at the opera in Florence, La Fenice in Venice, the Salzburg Festival and the Philharmonie in Paris. When not making music, she greatly enjoys swimming and is fascinated by water as an element, its strength and power. In addition to classical music she likes Amy Winehouse, Björk and Jamiroquain.
A Hungarian born in Romania, Gyula Orendt has in the course of this decade become one of the world’s few really interesting baritones. Having brought home prizes from various international competitions (including three special prizes in the Francesco Viñas), he got launched on a professional career with the Vienna Volksoper and from there proceeded to the Berlin State Opera via its Opera Studio programme. Since making his Covent Garden debut in 2012, he has made a name for himself particularly in the romantic roles, though he did recently sing the title role in Monteverdi’s Orfeo. In 2018, he sang in the premiere of George Benjamin’s opera Lessons in Love and Violence, eliciting effusive praise from the international critics.
George Frideric Handel: Suite from the operas Ariodante and Alcina
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) wrote the two serious operas Ariodante (1734) and Alcina (1735) during his London period. The first is set in medieval Scotland, where Ariodante and Ginevra are passionately in love. The evil Duke of Albany nevertheless tries to win her for himself, she tries to commit suicide but fails, a duel is fought and peace is once again restored. In Alcina, Ruggiero is lured to a mystical island ruled over by Alcina and her sister sorceress Morgana. Alcina falls in love with him and all goes well until the arrival of his betrothed, Bradamante, whom he had forgotten and who has come to rescue him. At the end, Alcina loses her magical powers, thus setting Ruggiero free along with the prisoners she has transformed into plants and animals.
The suites consist of dances from the operas. Ballet was a major feature of French opera, particularly, at that time; each scene would begin with a crowd scene in which dance was an integral element of the narrative.
Pietro Locatelli: Concerto grosso in E flat, Op. 7, No. 6, “Il pianto d’Arianna” (1741)
Italian violin virtuoso Pietro Locatelli (1695–1764) is known to have met Arcangelo Corelli in Rome in 1711, and his concerti grossi clearly reflect the earlier master’s influence. The typical Italian concerto grosso was scored for a small group of soloists alternating with a larger ensemble. In the preface to his Op. 1 concerti grossi published in Amsterdam (where he spent the last few decades of his life), Locatelli wrote that the ensemble could if necessary be doubled in the Roman manner – Corelli is reported to have given spectacular performances with a large orchestra. In Locatelli’s day, opera was the number one genre, and although he confined himself to instrumental music, the influence of Italian opera is strongly present in his Op. 7 concerti grossi. In style, they also have much in common with the instrumental sinfonia designed in opera to set the scene for the events about to take place and to act as a frame for the narrative.
Francesco Maria Veracini: Overture No. 6 in G Minor
Francesco Maria Veracini (1690–1768) spent most of his Italian working life in Florence and Venice, where he probably composed this Overture No. 6 in G Minor of 1711. From 1717 to 1720 he was a member of the Dresden Hofkapelle, one of the greatest musical establishments of its day in the German-speaking region. Court musicians were entitled to travel, and Veracini thus came into contact with the contemporary French, Italian and German styles of music. The meeting of styles and the courts in Dresden, Prussia and later Mannerheim contributed much to the development of music in Europe. Veracini regularly visited London and was one of Handel’s biggest operatic rivals there in 1733, but he did also perform violin concertos as intermezzos for a Handel opera in 1741. Tonight’s overture represents the Italian style at its best. This style became the norm at court and later paved the way for the symphonic idiom of Haydn and Mozart. As with concertos, the aim of overtures was to put the audience in the right frame of mind for the perfect opera experience.
George Frideric Handel: Apollo e Dafne HWV 122
Handel began writing the cantata Apollo e Dafne while travelling in Italy and it points the way to his many operas, with its overture, recitatives and arias. As was the fashion at the time (1709–1710), he chose a mythological topic. Contemporary audiences knew their mythology and would have no trouble connecting Apollo with a lyre and string instruments. They were also familiar with the common clichés, such as a pastoral aria to indicate Daphne’s appearance.
Apollo, god of archery, music and all sorts of other things, is very proud because he has killed the monster Python. He considers himself invincible and a better hand with a bow and arrow than Cupid. Daphne is enjoying a quiet moment in the countryside when Apollo spots her. To spite the arrogant Apollo, Cupid makes her fall in love with the god. She wants nothing to do with him, however, and in order to escape, turns herself into a laurel tree, rendering Apollo speechless.