Casadesus

Casadesus

The Early Twentieth Century and the Viola D'Amore

Henri Casadesus

I have been asked many times why an instrument as appealing as the viola d'amore died out. And I have usually answered that it didn't. This page is evidence, from Bilbao, in the first decades of the 20th century, to support my assertion.

The more I look up the history of early music, the farther back it seems to go. Here is an image of the George St. George, on the left, and his son Henry:

George St. George was born in Leipzig in 1841. He moved to London in 1862. He made violas d'amore, and also edited viola d'amore music. His instrument restoration work can even be seen in the Hart House Collection of viols here in Toronto; he repaired one of these viols and put a lable in at that time. (This collection of viols can be heard on a recent cd.) His son Henry was editor of The Strad for a period, and also author of The Bow, its History, Manufacture and Use (London, 1909.)

Back to Casadesus:

I have had the pleasure, as a member of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, of performing in a beautiful hall in Bilboa, in northern Spain.

The hallways around the auditorium are filled with the publicity pictures, to a far greater degree than is usual, dating back to the inception of the series there, in 1896. My colleagues and I especially liked the one of Pablo Casals, as a member of a string quartet, back in 1898, when he had hair.

Among the many famous musicians pictured is Henri Casadesus, violist in the Capet Quartet, and well-known exponent of the viola d'amore.

Notice that the woman playing the viola da gamba (what could this instrument have been? It looks very large in the photo) and has no frets, but does have an endpin.

 

Finally I have had the opportunity to hear Casadesus' early music group, on my visit to the Library of Congress.  I heard the Quartet of Ancient Instruments

RDA01324

Le plaisirs champetres, Monteclair arr. Casadesus, something on the order of 20-25 minutes of music:. I am guessing it is original to Casadesus, sounds too romantic in tonality, (kind of like russian quasi folk music, i.e. Modal. However, not chromatic.) Too many times jazzy rhythms of twos and threes.

The LOC uploaded the 2 78 discs from their warehouse, I listened in the Madison building at a computer in the Performing Arts Reading Room.

The overall impression is of pleasant light music.

What I noticed foremost was the tinny harpsichord sound with continuous 4 foot. No realization al all, the harpsichord gets snippets of solos, plays bridges. Warm string tone and the string playing is  excellent, sustained tone, warm, narrow unobtrusive vibrato, but continuous. The sound of the viola d'amore is like violins to me, not like viola d′amore and pardessus, as advertized on the catalog entry, anyway. Staccato sounds spiccato. 8 foot sounds like cello, not gamba.

Really fascinating to get a sample of early music, 1920's style.

Here are the programs Casadesus performed in Bilboa, over a period of 34 years, with his early music group, the Society for Ancient Instruments. During this period Casadesus also performed in Bilboa as a member of the Capet Quartet.

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Janurary 8th, 1906

Sra, Casadusus-Dellerba, Quinton, Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor, Marcel Casadesus, Viola de gamba, Sr. Oliver, Contrabajo,  Sr. Casella, Clave.

M.P. Monteclair Ballet de divertissement

J.S. Bach  Gavota

G.F. Handel   Arie con var. de la Suite n. 5 en mi mayor HMV 430

A. Ariosti  Sonatina para Quinton

L. Borghi  Concierto para cv

J.P. Martini  Plaisir d'amour

G.B. Borghi  Tambourin

A.B. Bruni  Sinfonia n. 2

Popular  Suite francesa del siglo XVII

J. Ph. Rameau  Aria

C.W. Gluck  Gavota

J-J.Mouret  Aria de las gracias

 

09 de Enero de 1906

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Sra, Casadusus-Dellerba, Quinton, Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor, Marcel Casadesus, Vioa de gamba, Sr. Oliver, Contrabajo,  Sr. Casella, Clave.

A. Sacchini  Ballet de Chimene

A. Lotti  Aria

L. Caix D'Hervelois Musette

A.B Bruni  Sinfonia n. 3

M. Marais  Andante y Rondo

J.S. Bach  Preludio y Giga

L-C. Daquin  Le coucou de Premier livre de pieces de clavecin

J.P. Martini  Plaisir d'amour

J-B. Lulli  Menuet

L. Borghi  Tambourin

W.A Mozart  Concierto

 

20 de Febrero de 1914

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Maurice Hewitt, Quinton; Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor; Marcel Casadesus, Viola da gamba; Maurice Devilliers, Bajo de viola; Regina Patorni-Casadesus, Clave.

A.C. Destouches Le pays du tender

F Galeazzi  Suite en sol

C.P.E Bach  Concierto para va

G. Nicolini  Fantasia

M.P. Monteclair Les plaisirs champestres

 

19 de Diciembre de 1928

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Maurice Casadesus, Quinton; Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor; Lucette Casadesus, Viola da gamba; Maurice Devilliers, Bajo de viola; Regina Patorni-Casadesus, Clave.

J-J. Mouret  Divertimento Le jardin des amours

Lorenziti  La Chasse

W. Ayrton  Partita para cv

B. Asioli  Concierto para va de amor

F. Galeazzi  Suite florentina

 

20 de Diciembre de 1928

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Maurice Casadesus, Quinton; Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor; Lucette Casadesus, Viola da gamba; Maurice Devilliers, Bajo de viola; Regina Patorni-Casadesus, Clave.

M. Marais  Petite Symphonie

A.B. Bruni  Concerto para Quinton

A. Campra  Gracieuse

D. Scarlatti  Sonata

W. A. Mozart  Rondo alla turca de la Sonata par p en la mayor

D Cimarosa  Divertimento

A.F Destouches Fete galante

 

16 de Enero de 1940

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Lucienne Tragin, Soprano; Maurius Casadesus, Quinton; Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor; Lucette Casadesus, Viola da gamba; Regina Casadesus, Clavecin.

M. Marais  Petite Symphonie

A Campra  Charmant papillon

J-B. Lully   Revenez, revenez amour

W.A. Mozart  Alleluia

G.B. Martini  Gavotte

H. Desmarest  Fileuse

L-C. Daquin  Le coucou

E. Granados  Tres Tonadillas as estilo antiguo

N-M. Dalayrac  Serenade a l'infante

M.P. Monteclair Ballet Divertissement

J.S Bach  Cantata, BWV 202

 

I found these programs in a volume issued in 1996 by the Philharmonic Society of Bilbao to celebrate 100 years of concert presentation. This made it very easy to check on the performances that included the viola d'amore. Perhaps similar reference works exist for other concert halls, but I have not encountered them. I am assuming that the programs above are representative of the kinds of presentations Casadesus was making everywhere on his concert tours, but ideally this should be checked, to support my position that the viola d'amore was heard regularly in concerts in the early 20th century.

Much of the music in these programs will look unfamiliar to us today, and it is likely that Casadesus may have written part or even most of it. Like some of his more famous contemporaries, he passed off some of his own compositions as those of 18th century composers. Casadesus also wrote a method book, Technique de la viole d'amour, Salabert, Paris, 1931, which includes 24 Preludes for viola d'amore solo, for which he also provided an accompaniment on the harpsichord, piano, or harp

I have never heard the following recording of Casadesus' performance, so I cannot vouch for its availability, but here is the reference, from the English page of the Japan viola Society:

 

CASADESUS, Henri

CD No.[ "The Recorded Viola, vol.I" / GEMM CDS 9148 ]

MARTINI, Jean Paul [1741-1816](arr. Casadesus) : Plaisir d'Amour ( 3:55 )