Festival Llinars del Vallès - Spain
Stylus Fantasticus is a genre that definitively lives up to its imaginative name. Described in the book Musurgia Universalis by Athanasius Kircher (1650).
The fantastic style is especially suited to instruments. It is the most free and unrestrained method of composing, it is bound to nothing, neither to any words nor to a melodic subject, it was instituted to display genius and to teach the hidden design of harmony and the ingenious composition of harmonic phrases and fugues.
Improvisation and free form were paramount to the Stylus Fantasticus and virtuosity reigned in this early baroque style. Representative of this style and used n our program is fascinating music by the Austrian violin virtuoso H.I. Biber, his reputable predecessor J.H. Schmelzer, the gifted German organists J.P. Krieger and D. Buxtehude (who happened to be J.S. Bach´s greatest influence), and finally P.H. Erlebach, an composer of extraordinarily beautiful music whose works were unfortunately nearly all lost due to a huge fire in 1735.
Johann Mattheson writes in 1793:
“In this style, the way of composing, singing, and playing is completely free, with the least amount of restrictions imaginable. One discovers one idea after another, connected only by harmony and not by words or melody, so the musician can demonstrate his virtuosity. Every unusual harmonic progression, ornament, turn, and amazing color are presented, without regard to meter or tonality, without formal themes or bass lines. One moment quick and the other slow, sometimes with one voice, other times with multiple voices, and all with the utmost surprise. Everything is created in order to be both pleasing to the ear and utterly surprising.”
In this program, four musicians - violin, viola da gamba, harpsichord, and tenor – bring to life this amazing, fantastic repertoire full of surprising virtuosity, expressive harmony, and most of all – beauty.