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Improviso – Early Music

‘Badinage’ by Improviso.

Fatima Lahham – recorder

Elin White – baroque violin

Florence Petit – baroque cello

Johan Löfving – theorbo


7.30pm. St Nicholas Church.  Tickets £12.

Improviso is an exciting and versatile young quartet who met at the Royal College of Music in London. They explore historically informed improvisation alongside performing chamber music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Praised for their inventive programming and exciting stage presence, they have appeared most recently in a live broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ programme, at the Styriarte Festival in Austria, and at venues all over the UK including the Wigmore Hall, Middle Temple Hall, the Holywell Music Room, Keble College Chapel, Oxford, the Deal Festival of Music & Arts, and the Brighton Early Music Festival.

In September 2017 Improviso won a place on the prestigious EEEmerging scheme 2018 (Emerging European Ensembles), and are also proud to have been selected for the Brighton Early Music Festival young artists scheme and the Live Music Now scheme. They have just completed a year as one of Wigmore Hall’s Chamber Tots Ensembles-in-Residence.

Future plans include a collaboration with Sam Cave, an LSO Soundhub associate composer, to create new works for the ensemble. Improviso are looking forward to a busy recital schedule in 2018 alongside a chamber music residency and concerts at Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, residencies in France and Romania, and a performance as part of the Festival d’Ambronay.


François Couperin (1668-1733) – Les Nations: La Françoise

Grave – Allemande – Courante 1 & 2 – Sarabande – Gigue – Chaconne – Gavotte – Menuet


John Playford (1623-1686/7) – A la Mode de France


François Couperin – Badinage from Douxième Concert, Les Goûts Reunis




Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764) – Deuxième récréation de la musique


Ouverture – Forlane – Sarabande – Menuet – Badinage – Chaconne – Tambourin


Improvisation: Folia


The word ‘badinage’ originated in mid-seventeenth century France and denotes playful banter or raillery – key ingredients in chamber music making in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as well as for us today! Leclair wrote this word above the fifth movement of his ‘Deuxième récréation de la musique’ which you will hear this evening, and we have delighted in centring our programme around ‘badinage’, following a French theme and enjoying music that is infused with musical banter.


We start by celebrating a musical anniversary: 2018 marks 350 years since the birth of French composer François Couperin, whose collection of French dances Les Nations: La Françoise, you will hear this evening.


‘A la mode de France’ derives from an English ballad from around 1642-43. The text of this ballad is written from the point of view of a French man or woman who has been in England and is reporting back what they have seen on the eve of the Civil War. The ballad is deliciously cynical, poking fun not only at both King Charles and Parliament but also presenting the words written as though spoken with a caricatured French accent. Today we improvise over the ballad to create our own version of non-partisan musical fun.


Jean-Marie Leclair’s ‘Deuxième récréation’ is perhaps one of the most monumental works of eighteenth century chamber music.  Cast in seven movements, the work is essentially an extended dance suite. Opening with a solemn Ouverture, solemnity soon gives way to a lively Forlane based on an Italian folk dance. The noble Sarabande precedes two minuets, after which follows the famous Badinage. The magisterial Chaconne would be a fitting end to the work in itself, but Leclair is not one to leave us with a heavy meal to digest unaided, and returns with a light dessert in the form of a Tambourin, originally a Provençal folk dance that here is characterised by audaciously playful flattened sevenths.


Finally, we end with another set of improvisations, this time over the notorious Folia bass line, used by composers all over Europe including Marin Marais in France. For us, improvising is often when we experience the most ‘badinage’: testing the limits of how far we can go with an idea before its possibilities are exhausted, challenging one another to dare to go a little further, provoking one another into faster and more furious diminutions, and enjoying the excitement of communicating in the moment and seeing what happens…

More information coming soon. Tickets will be on general release from the 1st May 2018.

Running times to be confirmed.

Friends of the Harwich Festival are entitled to Priority Booking and discounted tickets for more information please click here.  https://www.harwichfestival.co.uk/join-today/

Event Details

Date: Friday 29th June 2018| Time: 7:30 PM | Location: St Nicholas' Church

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