Behind the Musik: Mozart’s Piano

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PROGRAM NOTES
by Charlotte Nediger

J.C. Bach Symphony in G Minor, op. 6, no. 6

Of Johann Sebastian Bach’s many children, four enjoyed substantial careers as musicians: Carl Philipp Emanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann, born in Weimar to Maria Barbara; and Johann Christoph Friedrich and Johann Christian, born some twenty years later in Leipzig to Anna Magdalena. The youngest son, Johann Christian, is often called “the London Bach.” He was by far the most travelled member of the Bach family. After his father’s death in 1750, the fifteen-year-old went to Berlin to live and study with his brother Emanuel. A fascination with Italian opera led him to Italy four years later. He held posts in various centres in Italy (even converting to Catholicism) before settling in London in 1762. There he enjoyed considerable success as an opera composer, but left a greater mark by organizing an enormously successful concert series with his compatriot Carl Friedrich Abel. Much of the music at these concerts, which included cantatas, symphonies, sonatas, and concertos, was written by Bach and Abel themselves. Johann Christian is regarded today as one of the chief masters of the galant style, writing music that is elegant and vivacious, but the rather dark and dramatic Symphony in G Minor, op. 6, no. 6 reveals a more passionate aspect of his work.

J.C. Bach is often cited as the single most important external influence on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart synthesized the wide range of music he encountered as a child, but the one influence that stands out is that of J.C. Bach. Mozart spent fifteen months in London as a boy, in 1764–65, and Bach took the seven-year-old prodigy under his wing. Wolfgang’s sister Nannerl recalls in her memoirs:

Herr Johann Christian Bach, the Queen’s teacher, sat [Wolfgang] between his legs: the former played a few bars, and the other continued, and in this way they played a whole sonata, and someone not seeing it would have thought that only one man was playing it.

In 1778 Bach visited Vienna, and Mozart wrote to his father:

You may easily imagine his joy and mine when we met again. […] I love him from my heart (as you know), and esteem him; and as for him, there is no doubt that he praises me warmly, not only to my face, but to others also, and not in the exaggerated manner in which some speak, but in earnest.

C.P.E. Bach Symphony for strings in C Major Wq 182/3

Mozart also greatly admired the works of the older Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, but from a distance: there is no evidence that the two ever met. Copies of keyboard solos by C.P.E. were included in the notebooks assembled by Leopold Mozart for his children. Wolfgang encountered his music again in Vienna at the home of Baron Gottfried van Swieten, who had served as Austrian envoy in Berlin. Van Swieten held weekly gatherings at his home in Vienna, to which he invited musicians to perform the works of the Lutheran Bachs, as well as the oratorios of Handel. Mozart was a regular guest at these assemblies. Here he would have encountered C.P.E.’s Six symphonies for string orchestra, Wq 182, commissioned by Van Swieten during a visit to Hamburg in 1773. Before the symphonies were handed over to van Swieten they were played through at the house of Professor Büsch in Hamburg. The violinist J.F. Reichardt led the ensemble on this occasion and wrote: “the original, bold concepts, the wide variety of forms and modulations, as well as their novel treatment, were received with enthusiasm.” He also noted that they were very difficult to play, but that the Baron had expressly requested that Bach put technical considerations aside when composing the works.

Mozart Symphony no. 29 in A Major

Mozart’s earliest symphonic writing shows the clear influence of Johann Christian Bach, and of his sojourns in Italy. In 1773, at the age of seventeen, he travelled to Vienna and must have heard some symphonies while he was there, for he returned to Salzburg and penned two decidedly Viennese works: the so-called “Little G-Minor” Symphony, K.183, and the Symphony in A Major, K.201 that we are performing this week. The symphonies clearly show the influence of Haydn, both in form and style. The A-Major Symphony was written with a relatively small orchestra in mind, with a wind section consisting of only oboes and horns. Evidently Mozart himself was pleased with the work, and he revived it several times after settling in Vienna without substantial revision.

Mozart Rondo in A Minor for solo piano, K.511

The Rondo in A Minor was composed in March of 1787, in a relatively quiet period in terms of output. The previous year, Mozart had enjoyed tremendous success with Marriage of Figaro, first in Vienna, and then in Prague. It had also been a busy year in terms of instrumental compositions, with several concertos, chamber pieces, piano works, and the “Prague” Symphony. By October of 1787 he was back in Prague with a new opera, Don Giovanni, but in the interim penned only a handful of instrumental works, the Rondo among them. It stands out amongst Mozart’s solo piano music as exceptionally intimate, with an air of melancholy and mystery. It was not written on commission, nor is there any dedication, and its elusive nature has led to conjecture that he wrote it for himself. It has been suggested that it may have been written in response to the death of a close friend: the aristocrat Count August Hatzfeld was a gifted violinist who had participated in many performances of Mozart string quartets. Mozart wrote to his father of the “sad death of my dearest and best friend, the Count von Hatzfeld. He was just 31, like me; I do not feel sorry for him, but pity both myself and all who knew him as well as I did.” Scholars have noted that the influence of C.P.E. Bach’s piano music can be felt in the Rondo, and pianists have remarked that it looks forward to Schumann and Chopin in its deeply personal expression.

Mozart Concerto for piano no. 12 in A Major, K.414

The A-Major Piano Concerto is one of three concertos performed at Mozart’s Lenten concerts of 1783. Composed a year after Mozart’s move to Vienna, it is also the first of the great series of fifteen piano concertos he composed in the capital in the 1780s. On December 28, 1782, he wrote to his father:

I must write in the greatest haste, as it is already half past five and I have asked some people to come here at six to play a little music. I have so much to do these days that often I do not know whether I am on my head or my heels. The whole morning, until two o’clock, is spent giving lessons. Then we eat. After this meal I must give my poor stomach a short hour for digestion. The evening is therefore the only time I have for composing and of that I can never be sure, as I am often asked to perform at concerts. There are still two concertos wanting to make up the series of subscription concerts. These concertos are a happy medium between what is too easy and too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid. There are also passages here and there from which connoisseurs alone can derive satisfaction; but these passages are written in such a way that the less discriminating cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why.

Despite the busy schedule, Mozart had completed the remaining two concertos (K.413 and 415) a few weeks later. In January he placed a notice in the Wiener Zeitung advertising carefully copied manuscript copies of all three concertos, to be sold by subscription only from his apartment on the Hohe Brücke. His father suggested that the price of four ducats was too high, but Mozart responded, “I believe that I should earn at least one ducat for each concerto, and I can’t imagine that anyone could get it copied for one ducat!” His father may have been right, for sales were low, but the concerts were successful, and Mozart’s reputation as both composer and pianist greatly enhanced. Two years later the three concertos were engraved and published by the Viennese publishing firm Artaria as Opus 4.

Noteworthy in the A-Major Concerto is the middle movement, based on a theme from the Overture to La calamita de cuori by Johann Christian Bach. Bach had died a few months before the concerto was written, and the beautiful Andante is a touching musical epitaph to Mozart’s mentor.


PROGRAM LISTING
Kristian Bezuidenhout, guest director & fortepiano soloist
November 9—12, 2017, Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre

JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (1735–1782)
Symphony in G Minor, op. 6, no. 6 (London/Amsterdam, 1770)
Allegro
Andante più tosto adagio
Allegro molto

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (1714–1788)
Symphony for strings in C Major, Wq 182/3 (Hamburg/Vienna, 1773)
Allegro assai
Adagio
Allegretto

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756–1791)
Symphony no. 29 in A Major, K.201 (Salzburg, 1774)
Allegro moderato
Andante
Menuetto & Trio
Allegro con spirito

W.A. MOZART
Rondo in A Minor for solo piano, K.511 (Vienna, 1787)

W.A. MOZART
Concerto for piano no. 12 in A Major, K.414 (Vienna, 1782)
Allegro
Andante
Rondo: Allegretto

There will be a 20-minute intermission.


Kristian Bezuidenhout’s appearance is generously sponsored by Margaret & John Catto.


Join us for Mozart’s Piano from November 9–12, 2017 at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Tickets are available here.

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Behind the Musik: Elisa’s Italian Adventure

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A Note from Elisa

Elisa Citterio, Music CirectorMy Italian Adventure was born out of a desire to take you by means of music on a journey to the land where I was born and have lived. My hometown is Brescia, and although much less famous than nearby Venice, it played an important role in the history of music. One cannot pinpoint the date and place that the violin reached its present shape, but the studio of the violin maker Giovanni Paolo Maggini and his contemporaries in Brescia certainly contributed to the development of string instruments and to achieving the highest level of craftsmanship. String instruments from the seventeenth century had a very warm voice, and the Brescian consort of strings apparently brought to mind the sound of madrigals by Luca Marenzio, also from Brescia.

Fontana, Marini, and Vivaldi’s father are also from this city. Brescianello, Steffani, and Locatelli were born in towns not far away (especially compared to Canadian distances!), and for Castello the only references we have are Venetian. Our short trip takes us therefore to towns within a 200-kilometre radius and spanning just over 100 years. Other than the celebrated Vivaldi, the composers we will encounter on this journey are less known to the general public, but they give us an idea of what people listened to in baroque Brescia and Venice. I hope you enjoy this Italian musical adventure!

 

 

Elisa Citterio

PROGRAM NOTES
By Christopher Verrette

Baroque music was born in Italy around the turn of the seventeenth century. The innovative new forms of opera, sonata, and concerto developed there were spread to the rest of Europe through both printed music and the travels of Italian musicians. Our program begins with music by three of the pioneering composers of the era.

Fontana Sonata XIV

Little is known about the life and career of Giovanni Battista Fontana beyond what is written in the memorial preface to his sole opus of sonatas, published posthumously in his native Brescia, an important centre of violin making. He went on to work in Rome, Venice, and finally Padua, and was praised as “one of the most singular virtuosi the age has known.” Fontana’s writing is very much akin to the vocal music of his generation and calls for the noble form of rhythmic flexibility singers called sprezzatura. In Sonata XIV, the two violinists rarely play at the same time, instead exchanging solos in dialogue almost like characters in an opera, then a burgeoning new art form. The dulcian (an early bassoon) joins later in a canzona-like section, playing a decorated version of the continuo line.

Marini Sinfonia – Allemanno

Biagio Marini is recognized today mostly for his innovations in solo violin playing, not only technical displays, but highly imaginative writing that explored the instrument more fully beyond the norms of dance and consort music. Also Brescian, Marini worked at the cathedral of San Marco in Venice under Claudio Monteverdi, then travelled widely through Italy and Germany and as far north as Brussels. His Opus 22, published after returning to Italy, includes a number of short pieces for four-part strings. The Sinfonia terzo tuono is deliciously vocal, sounding much like a popular song, while the Balletto quarto Allemanno ventures into the realm of the silly: the first violin gets stuck repeating a three-note motive for most of the second half until a cadence is finally reached.

Castello Sonata X

As with Fontana, the life of Dario Castello is not well documented. He is identified as the chief wind player at San Marco on the title page of his first book of sonatas. He calls his works Sonate concertante in stil moderno, making it quite clear that he is writing in a new style. He makes use of a wide variety of figures, with frequent, bold, and sometimes jarring changes of tempo and affect. Sonata X gives a distinct voice to the dulcian, an instrument Castello possibly played himself.

Stefanni Suite from Niobe

Italian musicians were in high demand outside of their homeland, particularly at the Catholic courts of the Holy Roman Empire. Thus the talented choirboy Agostino Steffani was recruited by the Bavarian court, arriving in Munich on his thirteenth birthday. No expense was spared on his education. He was sent to Rome and Paris for further study, and employed back in Munich as organist and director of chamber music. Mostly appreciated for his vocal duets, he also wrote for the stage, although he did so clandestinely later in life because of the distinguished status he had attained as a cleric and diplomat at the Hanoverian court and elsewhere. Niobe was composed for carnival in Munich and is based on the story found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses of a queen that angers the gods by boasting about her children, who are slaughtered as punishment and Niobe turned to stone.

Locatelli Concerto op. 4, no. 12

Pietro Locatelli was a native of Bergamo, but by age sixteen he had joined the vibrant musical community that served the many churches and influential families of Rome, under the guidance of Arcangello Corelli. His earliest published music shows him to be an accomplished disciple of Corelli, but already exhibiting some interesting ideas of his own. Notably he added a second viola part to the orchestral texture. He travelled extensively as a soloist and became known for his acrobatics on the violin, the high fees and lavish gifts he received from patrons, and his extravagant clothing (with the implication that it was above his station).

It was customary for composers to do something special with the final piece in a published collection. For the last of his Opus 4 concerti grossi, Locatelli writes for four solo violins instead of the usual two. The soloists are at first heard one at a time, then mostly in pairs, but there are moments where all the violins make a glorious noise together. In the last movement there is a lot of playful banter in which the violins echo each other.

Brescianello Suite in G Minor

Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello was another talent imported from Italy to Germany, where he was ultimately triumphant in what was evidently a fierce competition with the native German Reinhardt Keiser over the position of Kapellmeister at Stuttgart. The Suite in G Minor demonstrates that he became proficient in the so-called “mixed style” popular in Germany in the eighteenth century, that melded elements of both French and Italian. The Ouverture and most of the dances exhibit French traits, while the composer’s Italian origin shines through most clearly in the Siciliano.

Vivaldi Autumn, from The Four Seasons

In The Four Seasons, Antonio Vivaldi uses his signature form, the solo violin concerto, to paint musical pictures of the seasons, supported by sonnets which are actually imbedded in the musical score. For Autumn, he chooses the key of F Major, strongly associated with hunting horns, which suits the last movement in particular, but is evident already in the opening solo of the first movement. The ensuing rambunctious solo passages are specifically designated l’ubracio (the drunk) in the score, as the harvest is celebrated perhaps a little too enthusiastically. Baroque composers often used long sustained notes and stable harmony to represent sleep or repose, but Vivaldi portrays the alcohol-induced slumber of revellers with unsettling harmonies that refuse to resolve comfortably, and a further restlessness is added by incessant arpeggiation from the continuo instruments under the muted strings. The finale vividly captures images of the hunt, complete with horns, barking dogs, gunshots, and even the final death wail of the cornered animal.

L’autunno

I. Celebra il vilanel con balli e canti
Del felice raccolto il bel piacere
E del liquor di Bacco accesi tanti
Finiscono col sonno il lor godere.

Fà ch’ogn ’uno tralasci e balli e canti
L’aria che temperata dà piacere,
E la staggion ch’invita tanti e tanti
D’un dolcissimo sonno al bel godere. 

II. cacciator alla nov ’alba à caccia
Con corni, schioppi, e canni escono fuore
Fugge la belua, e seguono la traccia; 

III. Già sbigottita, e lassa al gran rumore
De’ schioppi e canni, ferita minaccia
Languida di fuggir, mà oppressa muore.

Autumn

I. The peasants celebrate with song and dance
their joy in a fine harvest
and with generous draughts of Bacchus’ cup
their celebrations end in sleep.

Song and dance are done;
the gentle, pleasant air
and the season invite one and all
to the delights of sweetest sleep.

II. At first light the huntsman sets out
with horns, guns, and dogs;
the wild beast flees, and they follow its trail.

III. Terrified and exhausted by the great clamour
of guns and dogs, wounded and afraid,
the beast tries to flee but is overcome and dies.


Vivaldi Concerto for 2 oboes

The oboe was a relatively new instrument on the Venetian scene at Vivaldi’s time. In 1704, it began to be taught at the Ospedale della Pieta, where Vivaldi taught violin, and he came to use it in many of his concertos. The double concerto in C Major makes some interesting departures from typical concerto form. Instead of the usual orchestral introduction, the oboes begin the piece without the strings, who come in only later with contrasting material. Also, the second and third movements begin with essentially the same music, only in the minor mode in the Largo and the major mode in the Allegro.


PROGRAM LISTING
Directed by Elisa Citterio
October 11—15, 2017, Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre

Giovanni Battista Fontana (1589-1630)
Sonata XIV for 2 violins, dulcian & continuo

Biagio Marini (c.1587–1663)
Sinfonia & Allemanno, from op. 22

Dario Castello (fl. 1625)
Sonata X for 2 violins, dulcian & continuo, from Book 2

Agostino Steffani (1654–1728)
Suite from Niobe
Entrée – Menuet – Ritornello – Gavotte – Ritornello – Adagio  – Ritornello – Gigue – Chaconne

Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695–1764)
Concerto grosso in F Major, op. 4, no. 12
Allegro – Largo – Allegro

INTERMISSION

Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello (1690–1758)
Orchestral suite in G Minor
Ouverture – Gavotte – Aria: Presto – Rondeau – Aria: Siciliana – Aria – Rigaudon – Gigue    

Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741)
Concerto for violin in F Major, op. 8, no. 3: Autumn, from The Four Seasons
Allegro – Adagio molto – Allegro
Elisa Citterio, violin soloist

A. Vivaldi
Concerto for 2 oboes in Major, RV 534
Allegro – Largo – Allegro
John Abberger & Marco Cera, oboe soloists

There will be a 20-minute intermission.


Join us for Elisa’s Italian Adventure from October 11–15, 2017 at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Tickets are available here.

 

View from the Horn Section

By Andrew Clark, horn

Andrew Clark, horn
Andrew Clark, horn

It is rare to find orchestral works from the baroque period that use four horns instead of the usual two. On those instances when it did occur, it was usually to mark a special occasion. It is therefore an honour to be part of the horn quartet in Tafelmusik’s A Joyous Welcome program.

To perform this concert on instruments similar to those used in the eighteenth century, we will be playing horns associated with the “noble sport” of hunting. This was a pursuit (pun intended) practised by the wealthy nobility. The costs were significant: not only did hunting require a stable of horses, but refreshments had to be provided for guests, the right clothes were expected, and horn players needed to be employed to signal the unfolding events to those who followed on foot. The fanfares played had specific meanings, and included: Uncoupling the Hounds, The Running, The Cherish when the Hounds are in Full Cry, Breaking Cover, The Call Back, The Death, and The Retreat from the Field. Composers who wished to ingratiate themselves to particular patrons often wrote compositions that included horns and musical quotations from the hunt as recognition of the patron’s status and ability to sponsor the event. For three centuries these fanfares have formed the basis of idiomatic music for the horn, with examples to be found in works from Bach to Mozart, and from Brahms to John Williams.

Hunting horns were known by various names: in Italian, corno da caccia; in German, Waldhorn; in French, cor de chasse; and in English, French horn. Nowadays we often use the term natural horns to distinguish them from valved horns, which were a nineteenth-century innovation.

Earliest example of an instrument called a French horn, made in London, England in 1699, with an ivory mouthpiece (in the collection of Horniman Museum & Gardens)

Compared to other brass instruments, the horn has one of the largest tube expansions, from the narrowest tube at its beginning to a large bell at the end. Its length is dictated by the key required for the music. For example, in this program, twelve feet are needed for pieces in F, and sixteen feet for pieces in C. Sometimes the length is changed by swapping over a detachable coil of tubing called a crook, but this was a technological improvement that only gradually gained acceptance in the eighteenth century. Prior to that development a separate horn was needed for each key. Both versions will be in use for this program, and the horn section need make no apology for any crooks observed in their ranks!


Join us for A Joyous Welcome from Sept 21-24, 26, 2017. Tickets are available here.

Behind the Musik: A Joyous Welcome

Download the Program Notes | Download the Program Listing

PROGRAM NOTES
By Charlotte Nediger

HANDEL CONCERTO A DUE CORI

The instrumental portions of our performances this weekend feature Handel’s last compositions for orchestra, written when the composer was in his early sixties. Handel’s three Concerti a due cori were written as “interval music” for three new oratorios: Judas Maccabaeus (1747), Joshua (1748), and Alexander Balus (1748). An oratorio that advertised the inclusion of “a new concerto” always drew a crowd. In the case of the Concerti a due cori (“Concertos for two choirs”), the works were not only newly composed, but were also a new genre. Scored for two antiphonal “choirs” of wind instruments plus a full string orchestra with continuo, they are grandiose, extroverted works, undoubtedly inspired by the trio of so-called “Victory Oratorios” for which they were composed. All three include reworkings of earlier material: Handel’s audiences would have recognized most of them, drawn primarily from oratorio choruses, so the concertos must have had a certain “medley of great hits” quality. You may recognize the chorus “Lift up your heads” from Handel’s Messiah as the second movement of the concerto we are performing this week.

CORELLI CONCERTO GROSSO OP. 6, NO. 10

Corelli was among the first composers to write music for the orchestra independent of the opera, the dance, and the church. During a visit to Rome in 1681, the German musician Georg Muffat heard performances of Corelli concertos: “These concertos, suited neither to the church (because of the ballet airs and airs of other sorts which they include) nor for dancing (because of other interwoven conceits now slow and serious, now gay and nimble, and composed only for the express refreshment of the ear), may be performed most appropriately in connection with entertainments given by great princes and lords, for receptions of distinguished guests, and at state banquets, serenades, and assemblies of musical amateurs and virtuosi.” Ideal music, then, for welcoming a new Music Director! It was Corelli who popularized the concerto grosso, based on the popular form of the trio sonata for two violins and continuo, to which is added a four-part orchestra: when the two groups play in alternation a wonderful chiaroscuro is created. The solo or “concertino” trio supplies tenderness and virtuosity; the orchestra provides a rich sonority and solid foundation. Corelli started composing and performing concerti grossi as early as 1670, but only twelve were ever published, and those posthumously, as Opus 6, in 1714. Their publication had long been awaited throughout Europe, providing a model for many composers of the late baroque, but their simplicity, classical proportions, and utterly idiomatic string writing were never entirely surpassed. In a fitting tribute, the anniversary of Corelli’s death was marked for many years by the performance of the Opus 6 concertos in the Pantheon, where the composer was buried.

VIVALDI THE FOUR SEASONS

The Four Seasons appeared in Vivaldi’s 1725 publication of twelve violin concertos entitled Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, which translates roughly as “bold experiments with harmony and invention.” The Seasons, full of audacious experiments of every kind, were undoubtedly the inspiration for the title. The four concertos are accompanied by four sonnets, giving detailed descriptions of the programmatic elements of the music, which paint a vivid picture of life in the Italian countryside in the eighteenth century. The author of the sonnets is unknown, and it is possible that Vivaldi penned them himself. To ensure that the musicians were aware of the effects they were to create, Vivaldi labelled the various lines of the sonnets to correspond with letters in each of the instrumental parts. He also included very detailed instructions for performance, including dynamics, bowing, and articulations. The concertos are dazzling proof of Vivaldi’s skill as a violinist and his ingenuity and inventiveness as a composer.

The sonnet and a page of the solo violin part of Summer from the original 1725 publication.
You can see the letters in the part that correspond to lines in the sonnet.

We are delighted to be presenting all four concertos over the course of our concert season, with Elisa Citterio as soloist. We begin with Summer, which opens with languid, oppressive heat from the blazing sun, accompanied by bird calls, and finally interrupted by a summer storm. A shepherd, terrified by the storm, attempts to calm himself in the second movement, but is pestered by insects and troubled by approaching thunder. The storm lets loose its fury in the final movement. The full sonnet is printed below.

(Join us as Vivaldi’s Seasons unfold: Autumn at our October concerts, Winter in January, and Spring rather optimistically at concerts in February!)

L’Estate

I.   Sotto dura staggion dal sole accesa
Langue l’huom, langue ’l gregge, ed arde il pino;
Scioglie il cucco la voce, e tosto intesa
Canta la tortorella e’l gardelino.

 Zeffiro dolce spira, mà contesa
Muove Borea improviso al suo vicino;
E piange il pastorel, perche sospesa
Teme fiera borasca, e’l suo destino;

 II.  Toglie alle membra lasse il suo riposo
Il timore de ’lampi, e tuoni fieri
E de mosche, e mossoni il stuol furioso!

III. Ah che pur troppo i suoi timor son veri
Tuona e fulmina il ciel e grandinoso
Tronca il capo alle spiche e a ’grani alteri.

Summer

I.   In the torrid heat of the blazing sun,
man and beast alike languish,
and even the pine trees scorch;
The cuckoo raises his voice, and soon after
the turtledove and goldfinch join in song.

Zephyr blows gently, but suddenly
Boreas contests its neighbour:
the shepherd weeps, fearful
of the wild squall and anxious for his fate.

II.  He rouses his weary limbs from rest
in fear of the lightning, the fierce thunder,
and the angry swarms of gnats and flies.

III. Alas! his fears are justified,
for furious thunder splits the heavens,
flattening the cornstalks and the grainfields.

VIVALDI CONCERTO CON MOLTI STRUMENTI, RV 569

Vivaldi wrote a number of concertos with an expanded orchestra, i.e. “con molti strumenti.” The Concerto in F Major is essentially a concerto for violin, but rather than accompanying the soloist with the usual string orchestra, Vivaldi adds oboes, bassoons, and horns to create a work that is colourful and festive. The winds play solo passages in dialogue with the violinist, often stealing the limelight. This concerto survives in two versions: Vivaldi’s manuscript score in Italy, and a manuscript score and set of parts copied by the violinist Pisendel at the court in Dresden. Pisendel was one of a small entourage of Dresden musicians who accompanied the Crown Prince of Saxony on a visit to Venice in 1716. Vivaldi was impressed with the abilities of these musicians, and by their accounts of the impressive skills of the Dresden court orchestra, with its legendary wind players. He befriended Pisendel, and sent music to him in Dresden on a regular basis. It is quite possible that many of Vivaldi’s Concertos con molti strumenti were written expressly for the Dresden court, including the concerto we are performing this week.

RAMEAU SUITE FROM LES BORÉADES

Les Boréades was Rameau’s last opera, composed in his eightieth year. Although rehearsals had begun as early as April 1763, no performance took place prior to Rameau’s death in September of 1764, for no obvious reason. The work was not premiered on stage until over 200 years later, in 1982 (by John Eliot Gardiner at the Aix-en-Provence Festival). It is a remarkable opera — Rameau seems to have summoned all of his creative energy to create one final masterpiece, a work that is surprisingly modern, sensual, and spirited. Like other Rameau operas, it includes a wealth of instrumental music, written to accompany the dance, to cover scene changes, and to provide aural “images” of events and scenes on stage. The splendid overture to the opera introduces the selection of instrumental movements we have chosen to close our concerts this week.

© Charlotte Nediger


PROGRAM LISTING

Directed by Elisa Citterio

September 21–24, 2017, Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre
September 26, 2017, George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts

George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
Concerto a due cori in F Major, HWV 333 (London, 1748)
Pomposo/Allegro
A tempo giusto
Largo
Allegro ma non troppo
A tempo ordinario

Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713)
Concerto grosso in C Major, op. 6, no. 10 (Rome, 1714)
Preludio
Allemanda
Adagio
Corrente
Allegro
Minuetto

Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741)
Concerto for violin in G Minor, op. 8, no. 2: Summer, from The Four Seasons (Venice, 1725)
Allegro non molto/Allegro
Adagio
Presto
Elisa Citterio, violin soloist

INTERMISSION

A. Vivaldi
Concerto con molti strumenti in F Major, RV 569 (Venice/Dresden, 1720s)
Allegro
Grave
Allegro

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764)
Suite from Les Boréades (Paris, 1763)
Ouverture
Menuet
Allegro
Danse légère
Gavottes vives
Contredanse en rondeau
Gavottes
Menuets
Entracte: Suite des vents [The winds
Gavotte légère
Entrée de Polymnie
Airs gay
Contredanses très vives


Join us for A Joyous Welcome from Sept 21-24, 26, 2017. Tickets are available here.

Behind the Musik: Mozart Mass in C Minor

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PROGRAM NOTES
By Charlotte Nediger

Haydn Symphony no. 98 in B-flat Major

Johann Peter Salomon

Haydn’s life changed quite abruptly in 1790 with the death of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, his employer for almost 30 years. His son and successor, Prince Anton, had little interest in music and disbanded the court orchestra. Haydn moved to Vienna, and was soon visited there by Johann Peter Salomon, a German-born violinist who had moved to London and established a career as a successful impresario. It is reported that Haydn’s visitor announced himself with the famous words: “I am Salomon of London and have come to fetch you. Tomorrow we will arrange an accord.”

An accord was indeed arranged, and the pair left for London shortly thereafter, on December 15, 1790. In a letter home, Haydn wrote of his arrival:

[After the journey] I am fresh and well again, and occupied in looking at this endlessly huge city of London, whose various beauties and marvels quite astonished me. My arrival caused a great sensation throughout the whole city, and I went the rounds of all the newspapers for three successive days. Everyone wants to know me. I had to dine out six times up to now, and if I wanted, I could dine out every day; but first I must consider my health, and second my work. Except for the nobility, I admit no callers until two o’clock in the afternoon, and at four o’clock I dine at home with Mr Salomon … Everything is terribly expensive here … I wished I could fly for a time to Vienna, to have more quiet in which to work, for the noise that the common people make as they sell their wares in the street is intolerable. At present I am working on symphonies.

Salomon’s series opened in March 1791, two months after their arrival, and several of Haydn’s works were performed with great success. Performances were co-directed by Haydn at the keyboard (alternately the harpsichord or fortepiano, whichever was at hand), and by Salomon at the violin: he apparently stood in the curve of the keyboard instrument. For Haydn the experience of the audience was entirely different from that at the Esterházy court: this was a paying public, keen to be entertained, and vocal in their response. It was usual for the audience to applaud each movement, and to insist upon instant encores of favourite movements.

Haydn was persuaded to stay another year, and he spent the summer months at various country estates, away from the noise of the city. A second concert season followed in March 1792, and this included the premiere of Symphony no. 98. The symphony is often cited as the most personal of Haydn’s London symphonies, probably because it was composed soon after Haydn heard of Mozart’s untimely death. Haydn and Mozart were very close friends, greatly admiring each other’s work. Just before leaving for London, Salomon, Haydn, and Mozart dined together. Haydn’s friend and biographer A.C. Dies recounts:

… at the moment of parting, Mozart said, “We are probably saying our last adieu in this life.” Tears welled in both men’s eyes. Haydn was deeply moved, for he applied Mozart’s words to himself, and the possibility never occurred to him that the thread of Mozart’s life could be cut by the inexorable Fates the very next year.

The second movement is thought to be an homage by Haydn to his friend, opening with a quotation from the Agnus Dei of Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and later quoting a passage from the “Jupiter” Symphony. The final movement of the symphony is noteworthy, both as the longest finale of all of Haydn’s symphonies, and also for the inclusion of passages marked “Salomon solo” (i.e. for solo violin), and for a passage at the end marked “Haydn solo,” a short and witty little solo for the keyboard, described in a contemporary account of the first performance as “a passage of attractive brilliancy.” Audiences called for encores of both the first and fourth movements at the premiere.

Haydn left London to return to Vienna after the 1792 season, returning again in 1794 for one more year. It is a testament to Haydn’s popularity in London that Salomon’s tombstone in Westminster Abbey states simply, “He brought Haydn to England in 1791 and 1794.” The wonderful eighteenth-century music journalist Dr. Charles Burney wrote:

… it is well known how much [Haydn] contributed to our delight, to the advancement of his art, and to his own fame, by his numerous productions in this country and how much his natural, unassuming, and pleasing character, exclusive of his productions, endeared him to his acquaintances and to the nation at large.

Mozart Mass in C Minor

Constanze Mozart

During his employ at the archiepiscopal court in Salzburg, Mozart wrote a great deal of music for the Catholic church. After leaving Salzburg, Mozart wrote only a few sacred compositions: the motet Ave verum corpus, and the incomplete Mass in C Minor and Requiem. Ironically, the two incomplete works are Mozart’s great sacred masterpieces. Both are works of intensely powerful expression, masterful complexity, and sublime beauty. They are large-scale works, and even in their incomplete form give an impression of grandeur.

Although Mozart’s failure to complete the Requiem Mass can be explained by his final illness, the reasons for leaving the C-Minor Mass incomplete remain a mystery. Nor is it known with certainty why he undertook the composition of a full-scale mass in 1782, a year after leaving Salzburg. In a letter to his father dated January 4, 1783, he wrote:

I have truly promised this in my heart and hope to fulfill it … a proof of the reality of my promise, however, is the score of half a Mass, of which I have high hopes.

As to what he promised in his heart, it is thought that it was a vow to perform a new mass in Salzburg if he succeeded to bring Constanze there as his wife: after a difficult courtship they had married in August 1782. Others suggest it was connected with Constanze’s first pregnancy: a son was born in June 1783, but lived for just two months. In any case, the Mass was performed at St. Peter’s Church in Salzburg on October 23, 1783, with Constanze singing one of the solo soprano roles. In the performing score and parts, only the Kyrie, Gloria, and Benedictus are complete. The Credo breaks off after the Et incarnatus est, and the Agnus Dei is missing entirely. The orchestral parts for portions of the Credo are incomplete. It is not known how the 1783 performance was accomplished: whether, for example, parts were actually finished and subsequently lost, or whether Mozart completed the mass with a pastiche of earlier movements. In any case, the music that remains is remarkable. It is written in the form typical of baroque masses, with the text set in separate movements rather than set continuously, as in later masses. At the time of composition, Mozart was intensely studying works by Handel and Bach, and this is evident throughout the Mass, particularly in the choral writing. To this he adds two virtuoso solo soprano arias inspired by Italian opera. The result is a work that is a summation of the eighteenth century, and at the same time the work of a remarkably creative and original mind.

© Charlotte Nediger


PROGRAM LISTING

Directed by Ivars Taurins & Elisa Citterio, violin
Julia Doyle & Joanne Lunn, sopranos
Asitha Tennekoon, tenor
Joel Allison, bass-baritone
May 4–7, 2017, Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning

JOSEPH HAYDN 1732–1809
Symphony no. 98 in B-flat Major (London, 1792)
Adagio – Allegro
Adagio
Menuetto & Trio
Finale: Presto

INTERMISSION

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART 1756–1791
Mass in C Minor, K.427 (Salzburg, 1783)
Mozart Mass edited by Franz Beyer (Amadeus Verlag)

Behind the Musik: Bach: Keeping it in the Family

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PROGRAM NOTES
By Charlotte Nediger

Johann Sebastian Bach, in 1735, set down detailed observations about his ancestors in his Ursprung der musicalisch-Bachischen Familie (Origins of the musical Bach family). This genealogy traces the family as far back as the mid-sixteenth century. By the turn of the seventeenth century, the musical family was so widespread in the Thuringian region that the name “Bach” had come to be regarded as synonymous with “musician.” From birth, it was assumed that virtually every male member of the family would become a musician, and the combination of inherited talent and training from the earliest age assured their success. Yet, as the increasingly popular bourgeois music culture of the late eighteenth century led to a sharp decline in the importance of leading musical institutions (court orchestras, Stadtpfeifer bands, and Cantoreien), traditional music dynasties such as the Bach family quickly disappeared. In 1843, at the ceremonial unveiling in front of the Thomaskirche of the Leipzig Bach monument donated by Mendelssohn, Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst (the then 84-year-old grandson of J.S. Bach) was the sole representative of a family with a musical tradition of over 250 years.

Bach’s relationship with his sons can best be understood in view of this family tradition. He was keenly aware of his responsibility to pass on his legacy to his children, and was proud to record in a letter to a friend written in 1730, that his children “are all born musicians, and I can assure you that I can already form an ensemble both vocaliter and instrumentaliter within my family, particularly since my present wife sings a good, clear soprano, and my eldest daughter, too, joins in not badly.” Of Bach’s twenty children (seven with his first wife, Maria Barbara, and thirteen with his second wife, Anna Magdalena), ten survived infancy. Of these, four were female and six male. Little is known of the four girls, though the quote above suggests that they were well trained in music. Both of Bach’s wives came from musical families. There is no evidence that Maria Barbara was a practising musician herself, but Anna Magdalena was a very gifted soprano. Already at age twenty she was among the most highly paid musicians employed at the court in Cöthen, and continued singing there after her marriage to Bach. She seems to have left her performing career aside upon the family’s move to Leipzig (thirteen pregnancies in nineteen years may have been a significant factor!), but was one of Bach’s principal copyists, and was clearly actively involved in the children’s musical education. One daughter, Elisabetha Juliana (1728–81), married Johann Christoph Altnikol, a pupil of her father; the other three daughters remained single, living with their mother until her death in 1760. Their brother Carl Philipp Emanuel supported them financially from that point. The youngest daughter, Regina Susanna, outlived all of her siblings, and was supported in her final years through a fund raised by the editor of the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung,  in honour of her father.

Of the six sons, four became successful musicians: Wilhelm Friedemann (1710–84), Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714–88), Johann Christoph Friedrich (1732–95), and Johann Christian (1735–82). The two middle sons apparently also possessed considerable musical talent, but one suffered from a mental disorder, and the other, as stated by his father, “unfortunately turned out badly,” leaving an excellent post of organist to wander about the country, dying at age 24.

J.S. Bach spent a great deal of time and energy in the education of his sons, particularly in that of his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann. In 1720, he wrote the Clavierbüchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (Little keyboard book for W.F. Bach), a basic course in keyboard playing and composition. Indeed, all of his “pedagogical” works, such as The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Inventions and Sinfonias, the Orgelbüchlein, and the Clavier-Übung, must have been written initially with his sons and other pupils in mind. Their course of study would also have included the analysis and performance of the countless works of other German, French, and Italian composers collected by J.S. through his life. He also took care not to neglect their general, non-musical education. He stated that one of the principal reasons for accepting the post of Cantor in Leipzig was to enable his sons to enroll at the Thomasschule, and more importantly, the University of Leipzig.

Johann Sebastian continued to support his sons professionally until his death, finding positions for them, writing letters of reference, and visiting them whenever possible. C.P.E. and J.C. were to eventually exceed their father in contemporary fame: by 1780, when anyone spoke of “Bach,” it was more often one of these who was intended and not the father. Given his great respect for his family’s tradition, this in itself may have been considered by Johann Sebastian to be amongst his greatest accomplishments.

J.S. BACH OVERTURE, AFTER BWV 194

In 1723, J.S. Bach directed the performance of his Cantata 194, “Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest” (Most desired festival of joy) at the church in Störmhal, a village near Leipzig. The church had recently been rebuilt, with a new organ by Zacharias Hildebrandt, a young graduate of the workshop of the famed German organ builder Gottfried Silbermann. Bach had been asked to approve the instrument, and the cantata was performed at the dedication service. The organ is one of only a few instruments known to have been played by Bach that remains in its original condition.

Cantata 194 opens with a chorus in the style of a French orchestral overture, with a grand opening followed by a faster fugal section. As the chorus sings only in the fast section, and even then is doubled by instrumental parts, Alfredo Bernardini has taken the liberty of transcribing the movement for orchestra alone. He retains Bach’s original scoring, for three oboes, bassoon, and strings. In the opening section, Bach gives the main material to the winds and continuo, with the upper strings interjecting with unison scales as a sort of commentary. When the material returns at the end, he reverses the instrumentation: this time the strings and continuo prevail, and the oboes offer the commentary.

J.S. BACH CONCERTO FOR VIOLIN IN E MAJOR

Although only two concertos for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach have survived, it is possible that he composed others. Both of the extant concertos exist in alternate versions for solo harpsichord, and some of the other harpsichord concertos are thought to have had their origin in lost violin concertos. The violin was certainly one of Bach’s favoured solo instruments: he turned to the violin as a counterpart to the solo voice in countless arias in cantatas and passions. Although primarily a keyboard player, Bach was also a capable violinist and violist, and he understood fully that the violin could be played on the one hand with great energy and virtuosity, and on the other with the most sublime and tender expression. This is witnessed in the contrasting movements of the violin concertos, which have long been a favourite of violinists and audiences alike.

C.P.E. BACH CONCERTO FOR OBOE IN E-FLAT MAJOR

J.S. Bach’s concertos — both for violin and harpsichord — would have been featured regularly at performances of the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, and the soloists in the harpsichord concertos would invariably have been his sons. It is no coincidence, then, that both Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel wrote numerous harpsichord concertos. C.P.E. wrote no fewer than 52 keyboard concertos, spanning his entire career. A few of these exist in alternate versions: at least three each for flute and violoncello, and two for oboe. The two oboe concertos were written in 1765, during his employ at the Prussian court of Frederick the Great in Berlin. It is likely that they were written for a specific player, either one of the court players, or perhaps more likely, a visitor to the court. It seems from the manuscripts that the oboe concertos were composed prior to the keyboard versions.

C.P.E. was in Frederick’s employment for nearly 30 years, and it was not always the most stimulating environment, as the king had rather staid musical tastes and favoured the “galant” style. In retrospect clearly the most gifted of the many musicians at the Prussian court, C.P.E. was nonetheless underpaid and underappreciated. Fortunately, his creativity, strength of character, and determination enabled him to create an impressive body of work despite the limiting environment, and he offers in his music a truly unique voice. He carried this voice to Hamburg, where he replaced Telemann as Cantor and Music Director for the city from 1768 until his death 20 years later. He had three children: one son became a lawyer; the other (named Johann Sebastian, after his grandfather) was an accomplished painter, but his career was cut short by his early death. His daughter did not marry, and C.P.E. had no grandchildren.

W.F. BACH SINFONIA IN F MAJOR

Wilhelm Friedemann held prominent postings in Dresden and Halle, his organ playing renowned throughout Europe. After his father’s death in 1750 he had repeated difficulties with his employers, and spent the end of his life in poverty in Berlin, his aloofness, intemperance, and desultory behaviour earning him few friends. His music is an intriguing reflection of both the strength of his talent and education, and the eccentricities of his character. Whereas C.P.E. blended the baroque style of his youth with the new to forge a unique blend, W.F. tends to shift from old to new, not only between pieces, but often within a piece. This can be heard in the capricious Sinfonia in F Major, composed in Dresden. In writing notes for Tafelmusik’s recording of the work, the musicologist Peter Wollny suggests the influence of Zelenka, and in the “tender” Andante, of Hasse. The trio of the Menuet is a clever canon, with the bass echoing the violins. The unexpected turns in the first movement earned the Sinfonia the nickname of “Dissonance”: the dissonances here are not meant to stir the passions, but rather are full of wit.

TELEMANN SUITE IN D MINOR

Telemann was godfather to Carl Philipp Emanuel, and a great support to him both personally and in terms of his career, so we have included him as an honorary member of the Bach family in this week’s concerts. With Alfredo Bernardini joining us, it gives us the opportunity to perform Telemann’s Suite in D Minor, scored for three oboes, bassoon, and strings. The use of three oboes, rather than the more usual two, offers a wonderfully rich tutti sound, and gives Telemann the chance to explore the contrasting colours of two four-part ensembles: the three oboes and bassoon versus the string ensemble. It was a texture also favoured by J.S. Bach, used in several cantatas (such as Cantata 194, the opening of which begins our concert), and the Fourth Orchestral Suite. In his orchestral suites, Telemann often leaves aside the traditional arrangement of dance movements for a selection of pieces with fanciful titles. In this suite, he retains the dances throughout, but imbues them with a great deal of character, leaving the musicians and listeners to invent the images they depict or the stories they recount.

© Charlotte Nediger


PROGRAM LISTING
Directed by Alfredo Bernardini, Oboe & Cecilia Bernardini, Violin
April 5–9, 2017, Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH 1685–1750
Overture in B-flat Major, after BWV 194/1
Reconst. by A. Bernardini  (Leipzig, 1723)

J.S. BACH
Concerto for violin in E Major, BWV 1042
Allegro – Adagio – Allegro assai
Cecilia Bernardini, violin soloist

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH 1714–1788
Concerto for oboe in E-flat Major, Wq 165 (Hamburg, 1765)
Allegro – Adagio ma non troppo – Allegro ma non troppo
Alfredo Bernardini, oboe soloist

INTERMISSION

WILHELM FRIEDEMANN BACH 1710–1784
Sinfonia in F Major, Fk 67 (Dresden, 1735–40)
Vivace – Andante – Allegro – Menuetto I/II

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN 1681–1767
Orchestral Suite in D Minor, TWV 55:d3 (Frankfurt/Hamburg)
Ouverture – Menuet I/II – Gavotte – Courante – Air –
Loure – Hornpipe – Canaries – Gigue


Join us for Bach: Keeping it in the Family at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre from April 5–9, 2017. Tickets are available here.

Behind the Musik: The Baroque Diva

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PROGRAM NOTES
By Christopher Verrette

Opera was an invention of baroque Italy, and while other regions would create their own styles, opera sung in Italian would continue to be enjoyed in many cities and courts throughout Europe, including Dresden, Vienna, St. Petersburg, and London. George Frideric Handel began to present his Italian operas in London in 1711, and personally recruited singers from Italy for the task. These singers became celebrities in their new home. Contemporary accounts of these artists describe not only their voices, but also their manner on stage, and (sometimes unfavourably) their “person” or relative physical beauty. Rivalry among the singers could become quite public, with their respective fans creating disturbances during performances.

The “degrees of separation” between the various composers on this program are slight indeed. Georg Philipp Telemann holds the Guinness world record (posthumously!) for the most prolific composer of all time, at least on the basis of the sheer number of pieces he wrote. He also seems to have been one of the best-connected composers of his time. From his chosen city of Hamburg he had extensive reach. He wrote music for other courts, was involved in music education, publishing, and early copyright matters, took interest in ethnic styles of music, and corresponded regularly with many other composers and theorists, including his lifelong friend, Handel.

Another of his friends and correspondents was the extraordinary violinist Johann Georg Pisendel, a pivotal figure in music in the eighteenth century. A leading violinist with the famed Dresden Kapelle, many distinguished composers dedicated music to him, including Telemann, Albinoni, and Vivaldi. There are also strong connections between Pisendel and the Bach family. It was in fact Pisendel who brought to the attention of Telemann (also an accomplished poet) that he should eulogize the recently deceased Bach. Telemann responded with an ode, as he would for Pisendel himself some years later.

Pisendel met the violin virtuoso, composer, and priest Antonio Vivaldi while travelling in Venice with the ensemble of the crown prince of Saxony. While it is often said that he studied with Vivaldi, the relationship seems more likely to have been an opportune meeting between two peers with genuine respect for one another. He did not otherwise have the easiest visit to Italy: jealous violinists in the orchestra tried to sabotage his first solo appearance, which he survived by keeping his cool and beating his foot. On another occasion he was detained by authorities in St Mark’s Square in an apparent case of mistaken identity, and it was Vivaldi himself who negotiated his release.

Telemann Concerto in A Major

Telemann’s A-Major Concerto includes some virtuoso passagework that may reflect his knowledge of Pisendel’s style, but the dominating feature of the work is its imitation of the peeping of frogs. The soloist initiates this, after the opening tutti, with an effect called bariolage, an alternation of an open string with a fingered note on the same pitch. This figure is elaborated and imitated, and soon we hear a whole chorus of frogs that the composer takes through some extended and unexpected harmonic sequences. In the second movement we hear the frog once more before the violin embarks upon a cantabile melody, but the frogs can still be heard in the viola part at times. The concerto concludes with an elegant minuet and no further amphibian interference.

Handel Ezio

(c) The Foundling Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Handel’s Ezio had all the ingredients to be a commercial success: an excellent cast of singers, a libretto by Metastasio, and all new sets and costumes (a relative rarity), but it only lasted for five poorly attended performances at the King’s Theatre in January, 1732, although the king himself attended all but one. Its female lead was the soprano Anna Maria Strada (pictured right) as Fulvia, a woman trapped between rival lovers and the murderous machinations of her own father. “Il mio costanza” comes in Act II, when she admits in front of the emperor Valentinian, who wishes to marry her, that she is in fact in love with the General Ezio, who has just been arrested (erroneously) for an attempt on the emperor’s life. Strada was part of a second wave of talented singers imported by Handel to rebuild his company after a bankruptcy. While her singing was admired, she was criticized for her appearance and the faces she made while singing, earning her the nickname “the pig.”

Telemann Concerto in D Minor

In the D-Minor Concerto, Telemann puts into opposition a wind trio of oboes and bassoon and a string group. In the first movement, they mostly play together in similar rhythm, like a big choir, but in the fast movements the two groups rarely play at the same time, as if in conversation.

Vivaldi Motet “O qui coeli”

Vivaldi is mostly associated with the city of Venice and the solo violin concerto, but he became increasingly interested in opera over the course of his career, and this would take him to other cities such as Rome, where his operas were presented during carnival in both 1723 and 1724. At this time he came into contact with Cardinal Ottoboni, a member of one of the wealthy families that employed many of the best musicians, including Handel at one time. The motet “O qui coeli” was probably written for Ottoboni. Perhaps it was intended for one of the singers who also performed his operas. The text calls upon the listeners to turn their eyes from the transient attractions of the earthly to the eternal promises of the heavenly.

PIsendel Sonata da chiesa

Instrumental music was used widely in church to support and sometimes even replace parts of the liturgy. While noted as a virtuoso, Pisendel shows in the Sonata da chiesa (church sonata) that he can compose with disciplined contrapuntal technique. The austere five-note subject of the second movement is typical of this style.

Handel Alcina

In 1733, Handel lost most of his singers to a rival company. Anna Maria Strada stayed though, and in 1735 played the title role in one of greatest successes, Alcina. This sorceress is one of his most captivating characters, in more ways than one: she keeps people prisoners on her enchanted island in the form of rocks, trees, animals, and some as spellbound lovers. Her demise comes when she falls in love with Ruggiero: he escapes her spell and she loses her powers. She sings “Ah, mio cor” upon the realization that she has been deceived and deserted, powerfully expressed through her unaccompanied entrance. In the middle section, she breaks out of her despair just long enough to swear vengeance if he does not return.

Pisendel Concerto da chiesa

The G-Minor Concerto reveals Pisendel’s considerable talents as both a violinist and composer. The intricate high passagework for the solo violinist is typical of his style, but he was highly regarded for his performance of slow movements. The fugal opening of the last movement is unusual in a solo concerto.

Handel Rodelinda

The role of Rodelinda was originated in 1725 by Francesca Cuzzoni (pictured right), one of the notorious rival sopranos in Handel’s troupe. “Mio caro bene” is the final aria of the opera, when Rodelinda is joyfully reunited with her husband, who had been exiled and believed dead. According to Horace Walpole, her performance was upstaged by her costume, which apparently scandalized the older audience but was adopted by the young as the height of fashion.

© C. Verrette 2017


Note about Entwined, by the composer

Over the next year, Canada will see numerous celebrations as part of the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Canada certainly has much to celebrate, but it’s important to me that these celebrations don’t come without acknowledging the darker parts of our past, especially the treatment of Indigenous peoples in our country. We have taken important steps in recent years — Canada 150, for its part, has made reconciliation one of its four main themes. But I feel strongly that these steps need to be seen in the context of ongoing systemic discrimination.

Canada as a country is only 150 years old, but the shared history between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples goes back much farther. The interwoven layers of Entwined are meant to suggest how our stories are (and will continue to be) diverse yet deeply connected, and how we all have a role to play in reconciliation.


As a composer, Colin Labadie writes notably un-classical music for classical instruments. Through simple patterning and subtle variation, he seeks to build intricate yet clear structures and sounds. As a performer, he does exactly the opposite: he creates noisy and chaotic textures, usually with mutant guitars or homemade circuits. He often roots around in thrift stores, hunting for odd sounds in the world of forgotten electronics. Colin currently lives in Kitchener-Waterloo. He has been fortunate enough to perform or have his work performed across Canada, as well as in many non-Canadian countries. When he isn’t listening to music, he can usually be found trying to sniff out a good barbecue joint.


PROGRAM LISTING

Directed by Rodolfo Richter, violin
March 23–26, 2017, Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning

COLIN LABADIE born 1984
Entwined: Sesquie for Canada’s 150th
World premiere: written for Tafelmusik and commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for the 150th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN 1681–1767
Concerto for violin in A Major, “The Frog” (Frankfurt, c.1718)
[Allegro]
Adagio
Menuet

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL 1685-1759
Aria “La mia costanza,” from Ezio (London, 1732)

G.P. TELEMANN
Concerto in D Minor, TWV 53:d1 (Hamburg)
Grave
Allegro
Affettuoso
Allegro

ANTONIO VIVALDI 1678–1741
Motet “O qui coeli terraeque serenitas,” RV 631 (Rome, 1723/24)

INTERMISSION

JOHANN GEORG PISENDEL 1687–1755
Sonata da chiesa in C Minor (Dresden, c.1721–23)
Largo
Allegro

G.F. HANDEL
Aria “Ah, mio cor,” from Alcina (London, 1735)

J.G. PISENDEL
Concerto da chiesa in G Minor (Dresden, c.1720–25)
Largo e staccato/Allegro
Largo
Allegro

G.F. HANDEL
Aria “Mio caro bene,” from Rodelinda (London, 1725)

Karina Gauvin’s appearance with Tafelmusik is generously sponsored by
John & Margaret Catto.

Colin Labadie commission funded by / financé par:

 

 

 

Join us for The Baroque Diva at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre from
March 23—26, 2017. Tickets are available here.