Tafelmusik’s landmark recording devoted to influential Black 18th-century composer is available online
“As wonderful as this recording’s program and its performances are, its re-release is important because it puts Bologne’s achievements and remarkable skill as a composer at the centre of the project and celebrates him for the great artist that he was.”— The Wholenote
Toronto, July 6, 2021 … Tafelmusik’s landmark 2003 recording devoted to the music of Joseph Bologne, the influential Black 18th-century composer, has been reissued digitally and is now available on major digital streaming platforms including Apple and Spotify. Newly commissioned album artwork by Toronto painter Gordon Shadrach and an essayby American conductor and Bologne scholar Marlon Daniel accompany the re-release.
Tafelmusik’s late Music Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon was an early advocate of Bologne’s music, which she programmed in concerts. She also directed Tafelmusik in the original 2003 audio recording on CBC Records and DVD documentary produced by Media Headquarters. “His writing is very virtuosic and it’s clear that he could move around the instrument very easily. He had no technical limitations whatsoever,” Lamon said in the documentary, which has been broadcast on CBC, BBC, TV5, and ARTV among others.
Speaking about Lamon’s legacy in relation to this project, Tafelmusik violist Patrick Jordan said, “Jeanne’s interest in the music of Joseph Bologne fits into an overall sensibility that she brought to her position. She wanted to explore and make room for voices that we weren't hearing on a regular basis. She was able to broaden the discussion, challenging the existing narrative about Bologne’s work and inviting more people to the music.”
The Music of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges digital album includes orchestral excerpts from the composer’s opera L’amant anonyme, the Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 3, no. 1, and the Symphony in G Major, op. 11, no. 1 by Saint-Georges; the Allegro from the Violin Concerto in F Major, op. 10, no. 4 by Leclair; and the Symphony in D Major, op. 5, no. 3, “Pastorella” by Gossec. Jeanne Lamon, Linda Melsted, and Geneviève Gilardeau are the featured violin soloists.
Who was Joseph Bologne and why has his music been neglected for centuries? The son of a wealthy plantation owner and his mistress, an enslaved woman on the plantation in Guadeloupe, Bologne confronted enormous adversities around class and race throughout his life. He eventually rose to the pinnacle of Parisian society to become one of France’s heroes and a highly regarded 18th-century musical figure.
As part of its commitment to reframing and contextualizing the work of Saint-Georges, Tafelmusik has engaged Marlon Daniel as a consultant on the reissue. A champion of works by composers of African descent, Daniel is the Artistic and Music Director of the Festival International de Musique Saint-Georges and has given numerous lectures on the composer in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, and at institutions that include Columbia and Yale Universities. In the countdown to the re-release, Daniel also moderated Tafelmusik’s online panel discussion about Joseph Bologne and his music
Gordon Shadrach’s brand-new portrait of Bologne, Opus 7, graces the cover of the reissued digital album. The portrait is informed by Shadrach’s lifelong fascination with the semiotics of clothing and its impact on culture. Shadrach seeks to disrupt the colonial constrictions of portraiture by inviting viewers to reflect upon the depiction of Black people in art and culture.
With the goal of properly centring the composer’s achievements, the digital audio release has been reissued under a new title, The Music of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Tafelmusik has acknowledged that the original title (Le Mozart Noir) and the previous re-release artwork contributed to and facilitated the erasure of Joseph Bologne and his legacy.
The Music of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Excerpts from L’amant anonyme (1780)
Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 3, no. 1
Linda Melsted, violin soloist
Symphony in G Major, op. 11, no. 1 (1779)
Allegro, from Violin Concerto in F Major, op. 10, no. 4 (1745)
Geneviève Gilardeau violin soloist
Symphony in D Major, op. 5, no. 3, “Pastorella” (c.1761-2)
Led by Music Director Elisa Citterio and Executive Director Carol Kehoe, Tafelmusik is an orchestra, choir, and experience that celebrates beauty through music of the past.
Founded over 40 years ago on the pillars of passion, learning, and artistic excellence, Tafelmusik continues to bring new energy to baroque music and beyond. Historically informed performances of 17th- to 19th-century instrumental and choral music (led by Chamber Choir director Ivars Taurins) share the stage with vibrant, insightful multimedia programs, and bold new music written just for the group. Each piece is played on period instruments, underscored and illuminated by scholarship.
Through dynamic performances, international touring, award-winning recordings, and comprehensive education programs, Tafelmusik invites audiences to engage with beauty and experience the breadth of emotion music can inspire.