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Tempesta di Mare Illumines Music from the Time of the Sun King

Music in the era of the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, has enjoyed an acclaimed rediscovery in Europe. However, few American groups have taken up this music of the French Baroque, aside from Philadelphia's Tempesta di Mare. As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports, the early-music orchestra has started a multi-year project of concerts and recordings.

Tempesta di Mare co-founder and artistic Director Gwyn Roberts has spent her career questioning all the platitudes—that Vivaldi wrote the same piece 100 times, or that Telemann is all quantity and no quality—and brings that same incisiveness to the French Baroque.

It's music that seems to pose all sorts of barriers to modern musicians. When you can actually find the scores, the printed page might seem to have only 50 percent of the musical information that’s needed. The rest was implied; musicians back then knew what to do but didn't write it down.

Tempesta co-founder and director Richard Stone points out that the codes also come with thickets of rules for performance. Knowing the rules, however, won't always lead to the right musical result. 

Ballet and theater music are often evocative of natural phenomena, but even though Tempesta has produced theatrical work in the past, they're sticking to what they do best: they're an orchestra. And they shine a light on the French Baroque like no other American ensemble.