You've heard Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Handel's Water Music far too many times and now you're ready to dig deeper into the world of baroque. But where to start?
Baroque music is dramatic, filled with moments of surprising dynamic contrast and, at times, dazzling displays of virtuosity. If you listen to music by baroque masters like Bach, Corelli or Rameau, you're almost certain to hear a harpsichord, along with viola da gambas, lutes, cellos, violas and violins with strings made from sheep guts. Underneath it all, the bass line (called basso continuo) is not so different from a walking bass you hear in jazz.
Here in Canada, baroque music is a big deal. It thrives in Montreal, where a community of high-calibre performers like Arion Baroque Orchestra and Ensemble Caprice study, work and play. Quebec City's Les Violons du Roy have appeared at the prestigious Carnegie Hall multiple times. Toronto's Tafelmusik is a worldwide leader in period performance and recently accompanied Opera Atelier for performances of a rare Lully opera at the Royal Palace of Versailles in France. In June they completed a stint as orchestra in residence at BachFest Leipzig at the very church where Bach spent his final years.
From behind the harpsichord, Alexander Weimann is one of the movers and shakers in the Canadian early music scene. He is music director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Les Voix Baroques, and appears as a guest with many of Canada's finest period ensembles. This month he leads performances of Handel's first oratorio, Il Trionfo del Tempo, at Chamberfest Ottawa and Vancouver Early Music Festival.
There's so much more to baroque than Handel's Hallelujah chorus or Pachelbel's Canon. That's why we asked Weimann to share his 10 pieces of baroque music that everyone should know. Open the gallery above to see and hear.
Weimann leads performances of Handel's Il Trionfo del Tempo at Chamberfest Ottawa with Les Voix Baroques on Aug. 5 and Vancouver Early Music Festival with Pacific Baroque Orchestra on Aug. 7.
Follow Michael Morreale on Twitter: @18mrm
Listen to CBC Music's Baroque stream