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THE ARTISTIC PROJECT

The heart of the artistic project of Le Cercle de l’Harmonie is the natural lines of descent that connect the repertories of the Classical and Romantic periods. This makes it possible to demonstrate the continuity that exists in both the symphonic and operatic domain – very far from the common perception that there was a rupture between these two periods. The body of ideas, new forms and musical structures which emerged with the birth of Classicism served as a model for the greatest composers, and underwent an organic development throughout the nineteenth century. And we wish to show how composers fitted into, and contributed to, this development.
The musicians of Le Cercle de l’Harmonie and I consider that there is an absolutely natural filiation of repertory that covers a century of music, of which Berlioz is the cornerstone, and that goes from Gluck, through Spontini, to Wagner in the opera house, and from Haydn to Brahms in the symphonic domain.

To illustrate this development, it is necessary to dismantle existing codes of affiliation to national schools (Viennese, French, Italian and so on) in order to reveal the unsuspected links between aspects of the repertory. Such links bear witness to the fact that there are no ‘isolated’ or ‘satellite’ composers with an autonomous musical universe, who supposedly brought about a rupture, but a line of descent constituting the very nature of the development between two periods of musical history. My objective is to provide some perspective on this ‘mainstream repertory’ and the influences on it, which are often underestimated. More particularly, I wish to offer, with this incredible music, a mise-en-abyme of French music through the perception of its influence, in order to show how much it contributed to the development of the European music of the period through its density, its values and its originality.

Today’s established ‘mainstream repertory’ ignores an entire dimension of this intersection of influences, yet it is essential to the process of understanding lines of descent and transmission. Our approach to the repertory of Le Cercle de l’Harmonie aims to shed light on that process.

We work with so-called ‘period’ instruments, because it seems to us that it is in that sonority that the subtlety of these composers’ output can fully flourish, and it is in that sonority that we wish to transmit their ideas, their vision and their talents. Even today, for many music lovers, the use of ‘period’ instruments is still associated primarily with the Baroque repertory stretching from Monteverdi to J. S. Bach. There is a historical explanation for that perception: the pioneers of this aesthetic revolution (Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt) concentrated their efforts on the Baroque era. Yet the instruments used in that period would change very little in the second half of the eighteenth century, at the time when Haydn and Mozart composed their works. It is not until the 1830s that we see the beginnings of a development lasting nearly half a century, in the course of which those instruments came to acquire their current form and to constitute the modern symphony orchestra. Thus all the music composed at the beginning of the nineteenth century was conceived for an orchestra which was very different from the one we know today, in its very nature, its lightness, its transparency and its internal balances. For instance, Brahms and Wagner still composed for a mixture of older instruments, such as natural horns, and instruments which were being developed at the time, such as valve horns. 
It is the ambition of the musicians of Le Cercle de l’Harmonie to recreate the sound world which was constitutive of these composers’ musical thought, and to get as close as possible to their intentions.

THE ARTISTIC PROJECT

The heart of the artistic project of Le Cercle de l’Harmonie is the natural lines of descent that connect the repertories of the Classical and Romantic periods. This makes it possible to demonstrate the continuity that exists in both the symphonic and operatic domain – very far from the common perception that there was a rupture between these two periods. The body of ideas, new forms and musical structures which emerged with the birth of Classicism served as a model for the greatest composers, and underwent an organic development throughout the nineteenth century. And we wish to show how composers fitted into, and contributed to, this development.
The musicians of Le Cercle de l’Harmonie and I consider that there is an absolutely natural filiation of repertory that covers a century of music, of which Berlioz is the cornerstone, and that goes from Gluck, through Spontini, to Wagner in the opera house, and from Haydn to Brahms in the symphonic domain.

To illustrate this development, it is necessary to dismantle existing codes of affiliation to national schools (Viennese, French, Italian and so on) in order to reveal the unsuspected links between aspects of the repertory. Such links bear witness to the fact that there are no ‘isolated’ or ‘satellite’ composers with an autonomous musical universe, who supposedly brought about a rupture, but a line of descent constituting the very nature of the development between two periods of musical history. My objective is to provide some perspective on this ‘mainstream repertory’ and the influences on it, which are often underestimated. More particularly, I wish to offer, with this incredible music, a mise-en-abyme of French music through the perception of its influence, in order to show how much it contributed to the development of the European music of the period through its density, its values and its originality.

Today’s established ‘mainstream repertory’ ignores an entire dimension of this intersection of influences, yet it is essential to the process of understanding lines of descent and transmission. Our approach to the repertory of Le Cercle de l’Harmonie aims to shed light on that process.

We work with so-called ‘period’ instruments, because it seems to us that it is in that sonority that the subtlety of these composers’ output can fully flourish, and it is in that sonority that we wish to transmit their ideas, their vision and their talents. Even today, for many music lovers, the use of ‘period’ instruments is still associated primarily with the Baroque repertory stretching from Monteverdi to J. S. Bach. There is a historical explanation for that perception: the pioneers of this aesthetic revolution (Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt) concentrated their efforts on the Baroque era. Yet the instruments used in that period would change very little in the second half of the eighteenth century, at the time when Haydn and Mozart composed their works. It is not until the 1830s that we see the beginnings of a development lasting nearly half a century, in the course of which those instruments came to acquire their current form and to constitute the modern symphony orchestra. Thus all the music composed at the beginning of the nineteenth century was conceived for an orchestra which was very different from the one we know today, in its very nature, its lightness, its transparency and its internal balances. For instance, Brahms and Wagner still composed for a mixture of older instruments, such as natural horns, and instruments which were being developed at the time, such as valve horns. 
It is the ambition of the musicians of Le Cercle de l’Harmonie to recreate the sound world which was constitutive of these composers’ musical thought, and to get as close as possible to their intentions.