Donald Macleod explores the second phase of the Concert Spirituel, marked by the administration of the Academie Royale de Musique.
Today's programme looks at the second phase of the Concert Spirituel, marked by the administration of the Académie Royale de Musique (that is, the Paris Opera), who rescued the whole enterprise from collapse following the financial calamities suffered by the first directors. The concerts' venue continued to be the Salle des Cent Suisses of the Tuileries Palace, which until its destruction in 1871 stood next to the Louvre. The hall was cavernous, which made it more suitable for some musical instruments than others. One that came to be favoured was the new-style Italian violin, whose piercing tone carried far better in that enormous space than that of the old-fashioned viola da gamba. This promoted the growth of a new school of French violin virtuosos, foremost amongst them Jean-Marie Leclair, who made dozens of appearances at the Concert Spirituel, often in concertos of his own composition. (He was to meet a violent end in 1764 - stabbed in the back, perhaps in some family dispute.) A prominent musical visitor to Paris in 1738 was the composer Telemann, who attended performances at the Concert Spirituel of his grand motet Deus judicium tuum, which, he recorded in his diary, "was performed twice in three days by almost 100 select musicians". He also wrote a series of 'Paris Quartets' in the city, several of which were performed at the Concert Spirituel in the 1740s. Another fascinating figure is Joseph Bodin de Boismortier, who took the unconventional step of selling his compositions direct to the public rather than going the traditional route and finding himself a wealthy patron - as a result of which he became extremely wealthy himself. Two names not so familiar nowadays are Michel Pignolet de Montéclair and Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville, who after Lalande was the second most frequently performed composer in the 65 years of the series.