April 1, 2025

Les Arts Florissants with Théotime Langois de Swarte, violin

Vivaldi's “Four Seasons at 300"

“For decades [Les Arts Florissants] have been fulfilling the task of any truly important cultural institution: opening up new worlds of beauty and excitement, both emotional and intellectual.”
— The New York Times


Musicians

Les Arts Florissants
Théotime Langlois de Swarte, violin

Program

MonteverdiAdoramus te, SV 289, trans.
VivaldiConcerto “Madrigalesco”, RV 129
UccelliniBergamasca
VivaldiConcerto in D minor
GeminianiConcerto XXI in D minor, “Follia”
VivaldiConcerto in E Major, Op. 8/1 “Spring”
Concerto in G minor, Op. 8/2 “Summer”
Overture to “The Faithful Nymph”, FV 714
Concerto in F Major, Op. 8/3 “Autumn”
Grave from Violin Concerto in BbMajor, RV 370
Concert in F minor, Op. 8/4 “Winter”

When published in 1725 nobody could imagine Vivaldi’s Opus 8, Nos. 1-4 (“The Four Seasons”) would become perhaps the most frequently heard music of all time.  Yet today, 300 years on, they remain as popular as ever.

This program frames these iconic works in a new light.  Their overtly narrative style (Vivaldi included sonnets – perhaps written himself – alongside the music) invites questions about the fleeting, cyclical nature of our existence, our relationship with nature, and the eternal renewal of earth’s cycles, now being modified by climate change.

The opening Monteverdi brings us to a Venice prior to Vivaldi’s birth.  The “Madrigalesco” concerto shows Vivaldi paying homage to the master, echoing Monteverdi’s bold harmonic approach, and thus providing a bridge between this earlier style and 18th century virtuosity.  Uccellini’s “Bergamasca” plunges us into the improvisational practices of the Venetians, with a bass line familiar from today’s pop music.

Geminiani’s popular transcription of Corelli’s sonatas for chamber orchestra unites two geniuses of the baroque era. Corelli, whose groundbreaking Op. 5  (published in 1700) was an inspirational figure to the young Vivaldi.  Geminiani traveled widely and helped establish Italian repertoire throughout Europe.  The “Follia”, published in 1729, was almost certainly influenced by the appearance of Vivaldi’s Op. 8 just four years prior.

Artists Biographies

Les Arts Florissants

An ensemble of singers and instrumentalists specialized in the performance of Baroque music on period instruments, Les Arts Florissants are renowned the world over. Founded in 1979 by the Franco-American harpsichordist and conductor William Christie, the Ensemble, named for a short opera by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, has played a pioneering role in the revival of a Baroque repertoire that had long been neglected (including the rediscovery of countless treasures in the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France). Today that repertoire is widely performed and admired: not only French music from the reign of Louis XIV, but also more generally European music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Since 2007, the Ensemble is also conducted by the British tenor Paul Agnew, who was appointed Musical Co-director of Les Arts Florissants in 2019. Each season Les Arts Florissants gives around 100 concerts and opera performances in France—at the Philharmonie de Paris, where they are artists in residence, the Théâtre de Caen, the Opéra Comique, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Château de Versailles, as well as at numerous festivals—and are an active ambassador for French culture abroad, being regularly invited to New York, London, Edinburgh, Brussels, Vienna, Salzburg, Madrid, Barcelona, Moscow, and elsewhere. Since the 1987 production of Lully’s Atys at the Opéra Comique in Paris, which was triumphantly revived in May 2011, it has been on the opera stage that Les Arts Florissants have enjoyed their greatest successes. Notable productions include works by Rameau (Les Indes galantes, Hippolyte et Aricie, Les Boréades, Les Paladins, Platée), Lully and Charpentier (Médée, David et Jonathas, Les Arts florissants, Armide), Handel (Orlando, Acis and Galatea, Semele, Alcina, Serse, Hercules, L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato), Purcell (King Arthur, Dido and Aeneas, The Fairy Queen), Mozart (The Magic Flute, Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Monteverdi (his opera trilogy), but also by composers who are less frequently played, such as Landi (Il Sant’Alessio), Cesti (Il Tito), Campra (Les Fêtes vénitiennes) and Hérold (Zampa). For their theater productions, Les Arts Florissants have called on the talents of some of the greatest stage directors, including Jean-Marie Villégier, Robert Carsen, Adrian Noble, Andrei Serban, Luc Bondy, Deborah Warner, David McVicar, Claus Guth and Jérôme Deschamps and Macha Makeïeff, as well as on renowned choreographers such as Béatrice Massin, Ana Yepes, Jirí Kylián, Blanca Li, Trisha Brown, Robyn Orlin, José Montalvo, Françoise Denieau and Dominique Hervieu. Les Arts Florissants enjoy an equally high profile in the concert hall, as illustrated by their many acclaimed concert or semi-staged performances of operas and oratorios (Rameau’s Zoroastre, Anacréon and Les Fêtes d’Hébé, Charpentier’s Actéon and La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers, Campra’s Idoménée and Mozart’s Idomeneo, Montéclair’s Jephté, Rossi’s L’Orfeo and Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Cecilia Bartoli as well as his Messiah, Theodora, Susanna, Jephtha and Belshazzar), their secular and sacred chamber-music programs (petits motets by Lully and Charpentier, madrigals by Monteverdi and Gesualdo, court airs by Lambert, hymns by Purcell, among others) and their approach to large-scale works (particularly the grands motets by Rameau, Mondonville, Campra and Charpentier, as well as Handel’s Messiah and J.S. Bach’s Matthew’s and John’s Passion). The Ensemble has produced an impressive discography: nearly 100 recordings (CD and DVD) and its own collection in collaboration with harmonia mundi directed by William Christie and Paul Agnew. In recent years, Les Arts Florissants have launched several education programs for young musicians. The most emblematic is the Academy of Le Jardin des Voix: created in 2002, it is held every two years and has already brought a substantial number of new singers into the limelight. The Arts Flo Juniors program, launched in 2007, enables conservatory students to join the orchestra and chorus for the length of a production, from the first day of rehearsals up to the final performance. And then there is the partnership between William Christie, Les Arts Florissants and New York’s Juilliard School of Music, which since 2007 has allowed a fruitful artistic exchange between the U.S. and France. Launched in 2021, an annual program of masterclasses in Thiré (Vendée, Pays de la Loire) comes to complete this panel of programs with short working sessions led by William Christie and Paul Agnew, to help young professionals improve their skills. Les Arts Florissants also organizes numerous events aimed at building new audiences. Linked to each year’s concert program, they are designed for both amateur musicians and non-musicians, adults as much as children. In 2012, William Christie and Les Arts Florissants created the festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie, in partnership with the Conseil départemental de la Vendée. An annual event, the festival brings together artists from Les Arts Florissants, pupils from the Juilliard School and finalists from Le Jardin des Voix for concerts and promenades musicales in the gardens created by William Christie at Thiré, in the Vendée. In addition to the festival, Les Arts Florissants are working with the endowment fund Les Jardins de Musique de William Christie towards the creation of a permanent cultural venue in Thiré. In 2017, following a decision by the French Ministry of Culture, Les Arts Florissants and the endowment fund Les Jardins de Musique de William Christie have been awarded the national label Centre culturel de Rencontre, which distinguishes projects associating creation, patrimony and transmission. In 2018, Les Arts Florissants become the Foundation Les Arts Florissants – William Christie. Les Arts Florissants receives financial support from the State, the Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs (DRAC), the Département de la Vendée and the Région Pays de la Loire. The Selz Foundation is their Principal Sponsor. Aline Foriel-Destezet and the American Friends of Les Arts Florissants are Major Sponsors. Les Arts Florissants is in residence at the Philharmonie de Paris.

www.arts-florissants.org

Théotime Langlois de Swarte, violin

“Performances so special that I feel a changed man from listening” [Gramophone]; “A stunner by any standard” [The Strad]; and “Mesmerizing” [The New Yorker] – these represent common reactions upon encountering violinist Théotime Langlois de Swarte who is rapidly emerging as a much sought-after violin soloist (on both baroque and modern instruments), chamber musician, recitalist, and conductor.

Recognition has come in the form of major awards, including the 2022 “Diapason D’or of the year” for his recording of Vivaldi, Locatelli, and Leclair concertos (harmonia mundi), and the 2022 “Ambassador of the Year” award from the European Early Music Network (REMA), along with multiple additional recording awards and a February, 2022 cover story in The Strad magazine.

In solo appearances on both baroque and modern violin, de Swarte regularly offers concertos by all of the baroque masters, along with those of Haydn and Mozart.  He has appeared with Les Arts Florissants, Le Consort, Orchestre de l’Opera Royal, Holland Baroque, The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Les Ombres, and Orchestre National de Lorraine.  His engagements have brought him to prestigious venues such as the Philharmonie de Paris, Vienna’s Musikverein, Elbphilharmonie, Berlin’s Philharmonie, Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Hall, and the Shanghai National Art Center.  2023 marked debuts at Carnegie Hall, at Wigmore Hall, and his first tour of Australia.

Théotime Langlois de Swarte studied at the Paris Conservatory under Michael Hentz, and became a regular member of Les Arts Florissants at William Christie’s invitation in 2014, while still a student.  He has since appeared as soloist with the ensemble, and will perform Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” with them on North American tours in spring and fall, 2025.  He has also appeared in recital with William Christie, including a 2021 recording of sonatas by Leclair and Senaille (“Generations” on harmonia mundi).

As co-founder – with harpsichordist Justin Taylor – of the baroque ensemble Le Consort, de Swarte can be heard on numerous highly-acclaimed recordings including Specchio Veneziano, Opus 1, and Royal Handel, all on Alpha Classics.  Le Consort has performed widely throughout Europe, and their debut North American tours in 23/24 include Montreal, Boston, Washington, Kansas City, Berkeley, Chicago, St. Paul, Louisville, New Orleans, Vancouver, and Ottawa.

Besides William Christie, frequent recital collaborators include harpsichordist Justin Taylor and lute player Thomas Dunford, with whom he recorded a much-praised album titled The Mad Lover.  Another notable recording, A Concert at the Time of Proust, was made on the newly-restored Davidoff Stradivarius at the Philharmonie de Paris Museum.   Forthcoming recordings for harmonia mundi include two major Vivaldi projects, one of which will feature “The Four Seasons” to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the work’s publication.

Alongside his instrumental work, de Swarte is emerging as a conductor.  In 2023 he led performances at l’Opera Comique of Lully’s Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (with Les Musiciens du Louvre at Marc Minkowski’s invitation) and Gretry’s Zemire et Azor (at Louis Langrée’s invitation).

Théotime Langlois de Swarte is a laureate of the Banque Populaire Foundation.  He plays on a Jacob Stainer violin of 1665 loaned by the Jumpstart Foundation, and an Allessandro Gagliano from 1700 on loan from the Zylber Association.

www.theotimelangloisdeswarte.com