If asked to present a concert about London's 18th century Pleasure Gardens, most ensembles would turn to Handel, Arne or another English hero. They would be right to do so, and it is important that these composers are remembered as formative influences on our musical heritage. If a more introspective view is taken, we realise that our musicians come to London from around the world, due in no small part to this heritage.
Discussing musical development in Sweden with soprano Lina Johnsson, with whom I studied at Trinity College of Music, it became clear that Handel had played an important role in creating an indigenous culture of western art music.
Johan Helmich Roman came to London to learn from Handel, and played for him regularly between 1715 and 1721. On returning to Sweden, he composed his Drottningholmsmusiken, 24 movements of celebratory music for the marriage of Prince Adolf Fredrik and Lovisa Ulrika of Prussia. There are clear links between this suite-based writing and Handel's Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks.
As musicians we are comfortable performing in Latin, French, German and Italian alongside our own languages. Examining the work of Roman offers an exciting opportunity and challenge as a large amount of it is in Swedish.
Famed as the 'Father of Swedish Music', and 'The Swedish Handel', Roman created an original style, and implements this in both secular and sacred composition. His Svenska mässan is a Lutheran mass, but in the brevis form with reduced number of movements, as well as being in the vernacular. This evening's premiere of an edition by Nicholas Newland and Lina Johnsson, is the first ever UK performance of this mass.
Johan Joachim Agrell was a student and colleague of Roman, playing under him in the newly reformed court orchestra from 1727. He enjoyed exploring the forms introduced by Roman, and travelled to London to hear live performances of concertos and other public works. His oboe concerto, written for one of the court oboists, is an example of this music, free from patronage and full of joy.
JOHANN HELMICH ROMAN 1694-1758
CONCERTO FOR OBOE
JOHAN JOACHIM AGRELL 1701-1765
Penelope Smith, Oboe
INTERVAL OF 15 MINUTES
JOHANN HELMICH ROMAN
Wednesday 20 June 2012
The Foundling Museum
London WC1N 1AZ