by Daniel Hathaway
When American harpsichordist Jory Vinikour plays Francis Poulenc’s Concert champêtre with guest conductor Stéphane Denève and The Cleveland Orchestra this weekend, the occasion will mark both Vinikour’s first appearance with the Orchestra and the Orchestra’s first performance of the Poulenc concerto, which has been around since 1928. Performances take place on Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, March 24 at 8:00 pm, and Sunday, March 25 at 2:00 pm.
“It was one of Poulenc’s favorites, and a very special work,” Vinikour said in a telephone conversation from his home in Chicago. “He wrote it with his dear friend Wanda Landowska in mind, the giant of the Baroque and harpsichord revival in the first decades of the 20th century. I think there is a bit of portrait painting of her in the Concert champêtre — the coy little references to Scarlatti and Handel, as well as some sideways glances toward Stravinsky.”
Born in Poland, Landowska emigrated to Paris around the turn of the 20th century and soon became famous for her efforts to repopularize the plucked-string keyboard instrument that had reigned supreme in Baroque music. [Read more…]