The San Francisco Early Music Society's 2012-13 season resumes the first weekend of February with a concert by Music of the Spheres. The trio of JeAnne Johnson, Joanna Blendulf, and Yuko Tanaka will perform an early Valentine of French baroque music, spinning confections for violin, harpsichord, and viola da gamba, interspersed with thoughts on love by famous French authors. The program will include favorites by such giants of the age as Marin Marais, François Couperin, and Jean-Philippe Rameau as well as less familiar works by inspired musical pioneers Jean-Marie Leclair, Jean-Féry Rebel, and Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre.
Music of the Spheres and its musicians are fixtures of the Bay Area early music scene. The group has performed in earlier SFEMS series and in the Berkeley Early Music Festival, and its three members -- violinist JeAnne Johnson, harpsichordist Yuko Tanaka, and gambist Joanna Blendulf -- have been featured with many ensembles and orchestras on the West Coast. Formed in 2000, Music of the Spheres has played across the United States and abroad, including concerts at the 2002 Bloomington Early Music Festival, the 2006 Tage Alter Musik Festival in Regensburg, Germany, and the 2007 Frick Collection Series in New York. Their performances have been broadcast on WNYC-FM and on syndicated programs Harmonia, Sunday Baroque, and Performance Today.
Their February concerts, Toujours l'Amour, take us back to a period late in the reign of King Louis XIV, when music had become a refined art but the grand spectacles of earlier years were giving way to a new, more contemplative music written for chamber performance. Italian sonatas by Corelli had been introduced in the late 1660s, and their influence on French composers created a 50-year intellectual and artistic war between French and Italian musical styles. The composers on this program all show in their individual ways, how these tastes could be synthesized in a single generation.
For more information about Music of the Spheres including high-resolution photos, audio and video samples, visit jeannespheres.com.