Wed Jul 17, 19:00 - Wed Jul 17, 21:00

Welgemeend Manor House


Welgemeend Manor House, Cape Town

Wednesday 17 July 2024,19h00

Leon Schelhase – Harpsichord Recital

The practice of transcribing orchestral music, songs and dances for a solo keyboard is one that has been present throughout the history Western music. From popular English songs transcribed by William Byrd to Schubert Songs by Liszt, this practice served a wonderful transformation and function, by bringing the larger scale, or ensemble forces of the conceived pieces down to one player. Whether to be enjoyed in the concert hall, salon or privately there is an abundance of music in the repertoire. For French opera during the reign of Louis XIV this practice was very common. In particular, the relationship that court composer Jean-Baptise Lully had with his orchestra harpsichordist Jean-Henri D'Anglebert. Many of the most popular overtures, Airs, and Chaconne's exist in solo keyboard form, rich with the usual ornamentation associated with the French harpsichord style. This is the starting point for this program. From here the program will explore other composers in the 18thC who did similar things. In his Pieces de clavecin, Jean-Phillipe Rameau conceived much of his opera music, which were produced and written late in his career, long before they were integrated into the operas. On top of that he also transcribed a keyboard suite, independent of the Pieces, of orchestral music from Les Indes Galantes after its great success. Staying in the French tradition, Rameau's contemporary in opera, Jean-Pancrace Royer also transcribed his opera music for solo keyboard, but, contrary to Rameau, adds independent, new sections within the works. Baroque opera can hardly be mentioned without considering George-Frederic Handel. The glorious operas he produced were so popular that even they were not spared the transcription bug. English composer William Babell produced several "suites" for solo harpsichord in his collection of "Lessons for the Harpsichord", complete with titles of arias and ornaments based on who sang them at the opera house.The wealth of beautiful music this medium holds is stunning, and through the intimacy of the harpsichord, it can be brought to the smaller salon to invoke the splendours of the stage.

Some highlights of the program include:

J.B. Lully (trans. D'Anglebert)

Overture Cadmus et Hermione

Chaconne de Phaeton

Passacaille d'Armide

J.P. Rameau

Suite from Les Indes Galantes

J.P. Royer

Marche des Scythes

W. Babell

Suite from Handel's "Rinaldo"


Welgemeend Manor House
2 Welgemeend St, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001
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