oboe band

LAMENTO – Farewell and Eternity

I admired how intelligently the short programme balanced sacred and secular, instrumental and vocal, and German and English music.“ (Early Music Review, No. 155, August 2013)


James Paisible (1656 – 1721):  The Queen’s Farewell

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 – 1767): Ouverture, TWV 55:c3

William Croft (1678 – 1727):  Chaconne from Funeral (or Grief-a-La-Mode)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750):  Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir (Out of the depths I cry to Thee), Opening chorus of Cantata BWV 38 & Contrapunctus 3 from Die Kunst der Fuge BWV 1080 (The Art of Fugue)

Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695): Chaconne from The Fairy Queen  Z. 629


The oboe band had a constant presence in Europe during the Baroque period – from churches to battle fields, from town halls to village faires. This ensemble was highly sought after throughout society due to the warm sound of the oboes and the flexibility of instrumentation. The oboe bands played a wide variety of pieces and styles – surely the newest opera arias and lots of popular tune were among their repertoire.

If one has a closer look at the oboe band repertory it becomes clear that besides larger musical forms (such as suites and ouvertures) there are mainly two small forms which seem to have been performed: lamentos and chaconnes (and the closely related passacaglias). In other words, the affects of lamentos and chaconnes must have been associated with the sound of the oboe band. Both forms are related to the finiteness of human life: whilst one mourns with a lamento for a beloved person who has passed away, the chaconne (with its symbolical returning bass and harmony) already gives an impression of a life without time and space, or of eternity.

In our program “LAMENTO – Farewell and Eternity”, mourning and hope for eternal life are contrasted with each other. We combine the short character pieces of lamentos and chaconnes with extended pieces relating to the topic of death and eternal life: for example Georg Philipp Telemann’s Ouverture, TWV 55:c3 in the sad, mourning key of C minor, as well as Contrapunctus III from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Art of Fuge BWV 1080. Contrapunctus III is introduced by the opening chorus of Cantata BWV 38 “Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir” (Out of the depths I cry to Thee) from which Bach derived the musical material for the Art of Fugue.