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Johann Sebastian Bach

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


The Boston Musical Intelligencer

Yesterday

BAE Introduces Important New Weir Work

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Jonathan MIller and Judith Weir (Diane Fassino photo) Boston Artists Ensemble’s stunningly opened its five-concert series, held on Friday nights in Salem at Hamilton Hall, and on Sundays at three in St. Paul’s Church in Brookline, with three players I have known and admired deeply for nearly 40 years, who have played together on a regular basis for about half that time. The weekend’s offering (I attended on Sunday) deserved notice for its world-premiere of Judith Weir’s Three Chorales for cello and piano. The program began with Beethoven’s Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 3, played by pianist Randall Hodgkinson with his usual panache and flair, along with violinist Sharan Leventhal, and cellist Jonathan Miller, BAE’s Artistic Director. One of three piano trios dedicated to Prince Karl Lichnowsky, from the get-go, this was the most popular of the set. In the lovely second theme-and-variation movement, Randall Hodgkinson’s handling of the lion’s share of notes reminded me of what a fabulous pianist he is. The three musicians have performed together for decades, and it showed. Although most accomplished chamber music players can get together and play well with little rehearsal, there still is something special, even magical, about longtime musical partnerships. Judith Weir, renowned London-based composer (b. 1954) of Scottish ancestry, had never before written for cello with piano before Jonathan Miller commissioned her. The very resulting “Three Chorales for cello and piano,” will surely make a luminous and evocative addition to legions of cellists’ recitals. Weir introduced them with charm: These three pieces meditate on images—personal, secular and musical— from religious poetry. The title of No. 1, “Angels bending near the earth,” comes from “It came upon the midnight clear” by the Massachusetts pastor and poet, Edmund Sears. The full reference is to “angels bending near the earth/ to touch their harps of gold” and this is the inscription for the music, with piano arpeggios swooping down over the rich central band of sound produced by the cello. No. 2, “In death’s dark vale,” paraphrasing the 23rd Psalm (from a Scottish hymnal), evokes an image of living against the prospect of impending death. The cello plays a hasty, self-absorbed continuo, whilst around it, piano motifs and chords of different height and depth create an evolving backdrop. The second is the only movement which quotes a musical source: Hildegard of Bingen’s hymn “O virtus sapientiae” (O strength of wisdom). Its calm, elegiac set of variations for the cello on Hildegard’s melody, partnered mostly bright, optimistic reflections from the piano. Weir’s Three Chorales exquisitely written for the cello. The first matched a shimmering, feathery piano to long, soulful cello lines, “supremely lyrical,” in the words of Jonathan Miller. “I first had to figure out what an angel is—an interpretive hurdle,” he added. “I had to make it pure.” The second movement he described as “passionate, personal, full of angst,” while the third “starts in the 12th century and evolves into a romantic Elgar sound.” Weir’s new work, like much of her music, enchantments with tunefulness and seductive simplicity. Leventhal, Hodgkinson and MIller (Diane Fassino photo) The first and longest of Robert Schumann’s three piano trios, his D minor, marked a return to composing for the piano; he had already penned three string quartets, the piano quintet and the piano quartet. In the intervening years he had embraced the music of J. S. Bach and the art of contrapuntal writing. This is unmistakably reflected in the polyphonic world of this trio. He began in the spring of 1847, completed it a few months later, and presented it to his wife Clara, for her 28th birthday. “It sounds,” she wrote, “as if composed by one from whom there is still much to expect, it is so strong and full of youth full energy and at the same time worked out so masterfully. The first movement is to my mind one of the loveliest that I know.” She premiered it privately soon afterward with principals of the Dresden Court Orchestra. From its opening, the music is unmistakably Schumann’s. Sharan Leventhal played exquisitely throughout, as did her partners, in an extraordinarily tight ensemble. The slow third movement, particularly, overflowed with poetry. BAE concerts featuring quartets of Szymanowski and Beethoven come on Fri. Nov. 11th and Sun., Nov. 13th. Susan Miron is a book critic, essayist, and harpist. Her last two CDs featured her transcriptions of keyboard music of Domenico Scarlatti. The post BAE Introduces Important New Weir Work appeared first on The Boston Musical Intelligencer .

The Well-Tempered Ear

September 25

Classical music: Read the reviews. This afternoon is your last chance to hear — and, thanks to NASA, to see — Holst’s “The Planets.” But ARRIVE EARLY! The Madison Symphony Orchestra has alerted its audiences about new security measures at the Overture Center

By Jacob Stockinger The Madison Symphony Orchestra has sent out the following note, via email and regular mail, about new security measures at the Overture Center . They will be in effect for the three MSO concerts this weekend, including the performance today, Sunday, Sept. 25, at 2:30 p.m. For more information about the program, visit this link: https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2016/09/21/classical-music-the-madison-symphony-orchestra-opens-its-new-season-this-weekend-with-music-by-holst-and-photographs-by-nasa-in-the-planets-an-hd-odyssey/ “Due to changes in the Overture Center’s security procedures, there will be only THREE main entry points into the building (below) as you come for your concert. When you arrive, please enter at: • The main Overture Center entrance on State Street • An entrance on Fairchild Street (one door only) • The “back” entrance on Henry Street Security stations will be placed at each entrance where Overture staff will conduct a bag search on bags larger than a small purse, including backpacks. We anticipate that the process will be smooth and proceed quickly, although we do recommend you come early for peace of mind so you can enjoy the concert from start to finish! For more information on the Overture Center’s security measures, please visit the website at overturecenter.org/about/security The Ear wonders what effect these new security measures will have on attendance at the symphony, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra concerts, the Madison Opera , the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society and other non-musical events. The Ear would like to know if the new security measures come in response to an actual terrorist threat or are simply a new standard operating procedure . The published explanation leans to the latter and says the Overture Center was to take the same precautions that big presenters in, say New York City and Washington, D.C. , do. But The Ear wonders: Will similar measures now be adopted by the Wisconsin Union Theater , the University of Wisconsin School of Music and other major local venues? Does anyone have more information or an opinion? What do you think about the necessity or desirability of such measures ? And what was your experience like with the new procedures? Stay tuned. The Ear wants to hear. In the meantime, this afternoon is your last chance to hear the program that generally gets very positive reviews. Here is the review that John W. Barker (below) wrote for Isthmus : http://isthmus.com/music/beautiful-music-distracting-backdrop/ And here is the review that Jessica Courtier wrote for The Capital Times : http://host.madison.com/ct/entertainment/music/concert-review-mso-takes-audience-on-a-stunning-trip-to/article_6dd45c4d-c11b-5c77-ae54-35a3e731b1cb.html Tagged: alert , Arts , attack , Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society , backpack , Classical music , critic , D.C. , DC , High definition , Isthmus , Jacob Stockinger , John W. Barker , Jupiter , Madison , Madison Opera , Madison Symphony Orchestra , Mars , Music , NASA , New York City , Orchestra , Overture Center , photograph , planet , precaution , purse , safety , security , September 11 attacks , symphony , terrorism , terrorist , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Venus , Washington , Wisconsin , Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra , Wisconsin Union Theater




The Boston Musical Intelligencer

September 25

Bringers of Jollity and Transparency

For 201 years the Handel and Haydn Society has, on the slow pendulum of taste, subtended the broad interval between enthusiastic amateur performances and brilliantly articulated professional ones—which is where their clock now, providentially, seems stuck. Essaying J. S. Bach cantatas and a concerto in the company of a fine Heinrich Schütz motet (no Scheidt) on this particular Friday at Symphony Hall (repeating Sunday afternoon there), the forces under Harry Christophers got to show off individual’s qualities in a mostly fast-moving workout of speed, clarity, and splendid vocal and instrumental production. The sensory antennae of this emotionally informed listener quivered only sporadically, while his critical ears inflamed appreciatively at the unmuddied virtuosity of Boston’s most reliable periodic orchestra and chorus. At the conclusion of the orchestra’s typical Talmudic discussions of what constitutes A, Christophers sauntered out for a brief appreciation of two recently deceased trustees, one of whom, Wat H. Tyler Jr., was a particularly beloved leader. Coming to us from new line-array speakers camouflaged on the proscenium arch, Christophers’s words echoed less than amplified speech generally does at Symphony Hall. (And what a relief to have the disfiguring boxes of the past consigned to oblivion.) A fleet take on Bach’s Komm Jesu, Komm S.229 found the chorus not entirely lining up their “T”s and “S”es, nor were the period strings particularly unanimous about pitch. If text hadn’t been provided, the subject of weariness with life would hardly have been made manifest in this smiling rendition. The second part of the cantata, a chorale beginning with a goodnight to the world, appropriately placed us in a groove more suited to the mood of the Word. Intense new cardinal aisle carpets matched the hair of violinist Aisslinn Nosky, who led colleagues Christina Day Martinson and Susanna Ogata onto the stage for a vertiginous vision of Bach’s Concerto in D Major for Three Violins, S.1064R. For all of their prancing and speediness, though, the three soloists never quite caught fire in either of the outer allegro movements, and their rapid passagework did not always benefit from polished tuning. The concerto’s inner largo might have drawn us into deeper realms had Christophers been there to inspire. The all-ahead-flank recapitulation, however, brought delight to the enthusiastic crowd. And I am sorry to report that the musical universe of sumptuous tones Miriam Fried produced on a 1718 Strad and Baroque bow (historical enough?) in Jordan Hall a few nights ago found no counterpart in last night’s effusions from this early ménage à trois. Beginning with the stylish synchronized trilling of natural trumpeters Timothy Will, Paul Perfetti, and Vincent Monaco, Bach’s Cantata 149, Mann singt mit Freuden vom Sieg (One sings with the joy of victory) occasioned appreciative contemplation of the many individuals who form the estimable ensemble. Much manna came from the continuo grouping: rippling organist Ian Watson (not so audible on harpsichord), the foundational but un-growling underpinning of bass Anthony Manzo, and the stylish vocalizing of invariably fresh song from cellist Guy Fishman. Stepping out of the chorus, the vocal soloists also earned encomia. Mezzo Catherine Hedburg’s rapturous recitative willed us to consider the Lamb of God, and Margaret Rood followed as an angel bearing us in her hands through the most dulcet tones imaginable. Her legato deliciously spanned a rather relentless three-meter from the band. If tenor Jonas Budris sounded a bit pinched as he intoned a recitative of thanks, his cords opened remarkably in the trio, Seid wachsam, ihr heilgen Wächter (Be watchful, you holy watchmen) with Hedburg and swinging bassoonist Andrew Schwartz, whose jollity evoked a conversational afternoon in a Bachian Biergarten. The concluding chorale saturated the space with praiseful gratification. Casting away all displeasure, energetic fuguing, as if toned on an elliptical machine, characterized Cantata 50, Nun is das Heil und Kraft (Now comes salvation and might). The excellent singers, clearly knowing everyone else’s parts as well, never seemed to need cuing for their multiple entrances; the three trumpets, along with paukenist Jonathan Hess, provided emphatic punctuation. Your reporter’s attentively cupped ears found the sonorities Christophers drew forth in Schütz’s accompanied motet Herr, nun lässet du deinen Diener (Lord, now let they servant depart in peace), SWV432, the best-made match of composer and performers and performance style all night. Pungent polyphony in the company of the organ-centric continuo robed the work in a sacredness rather lacking in the more theatrical Bach selections. Shapely and artful the singing was indeed. Christopher’s directs his Sixteen in the piece below. Bach’s Magnificat motored magnificently in turbo mode, perhaps taking the course speed record from Boston Baroque while missing nary a gate or turn. The virtual trio of soprano Rood with the plangent oboe of Gonzalo Ruiz and cellist Fishman elicited smiles from all. Woodrow Bynum’s delivery of Quia fecit disclosed a shining silk instrument without a lining of wool. The duet of Et misericordia as enacted by mezzo Katherine Growdon and tenor Stefan Reed provided a glam intro to the chorus’s famed Fecit potentiam, which began at speed before coming to a full stop and picturesque ritard at Superbos. Ravishing flutists Christopher Krueger and Wendy Rolf exalted in thanksgiving with mezzo Growdon in a most pleasant Esurientis implevit bonus (He has filled the hungry with good things). The Sucepit looked fondly back to Schütz, perhaps, and made its inclusion more sonically logical, especially as formed, and informed, by Christophers’s princely conviction. Gloria Patri and from us all, thanks and amen. Lee Eiseman is the publisher of the Intelligencer. The post Bringers of Jollity and Transparency appeared first on The Boston Musical Intelligencer .

The Well-Tempered Ear

September 24

Classical music: Read the reviews. Tonight and Sunday afternoon are your last chances to hear — and, thanks to NASA, see — Holst’s “The Planets.” But ARRIVE EARLY! The Madison Symphony Orchestra has alerted its audiences about new security measures at the Overture Center

By Jacob Stockinger The Madison Symphony Orchestra has sent out the following note, via email and regular mail, about new security measures at the Overture Center . They will be in effect for the three MSO concerts this weekend, including the performances tonight at 8 .m; and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. For more information about the program, visit this link: https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2016/09/21/classical-music-the-madison-symphony-orchestra-opens-its-new-season-this-weekend-with-music-by-holst-and-photographs-by-nasa-in-the-planets-an-hd-odyssey/ “Due to changes in the Overture Center’s security procedures, there will be only THREE main entry points into the building (below) as you come for your concert. When you arrive, please enter at: • The main Overture Center entrance on State Street • An entrance on Fairchild Street (one door only) • The “back” entrance on Henry Street Security stations will be placed at each entrance where Overture staff will conduct a bag search on bags larger than a small purse, including backpacks. We anticipate that the process will be smooth and proceed quickly, although we do recommend you come early for peace of mind so you can enjoy the concert from start to finish! For more information on the Overture Center’s security measures, please visit the website at overturecenter.org/about/security The Ear wonders what effect these new security measures will have on attendance at the symphony, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra concerts, the Madison Opera , the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society and other non-musical events. The Ear would like to know if the new security measures come in response to an actual terrorist threat or are simply a new standard operating procedure . The published explanation leans to the latter and says the Overture Center was to take the same precautions that big presenters in, say New York City and Washington, D.C. , do. But The Ear wonders: Will similar measures now be adopted by the Wisconsin Union Theater , the University of Wisconsin School of Music and other major local venues? Does anyone have more information or an opinion? What do you think about the necessity or desirability of such measures ? And what was your experience like with the new procedures? Stay tuned. The Ear wants to hear. In the meantime, this afternoon is your last chance to hear the program that generally gets very positive reviews. Here is the review that John W. Barker (below) wrote for Isthmus : http://isthmus.com/music/beautiful-music-distracting-backdrop/ And here is the review that Jessica Courtier wrote for The Capital Times : http://host.madison.com/ct/entertainment/music/concert-review-mso-takes-audience-on-a-stunning-trip-to/article_6dd45c4d-c11b-5c77-ae54-35a3e731b1cb.html Tagged: alert , Arts , attack , Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society , backpack , Classical music , critic , D.C. , DC , High definition , Isthmus , Jacob Stockinger , John W. Barker , Jupiter , Madison , Madison Opera , Madison Symphony Orchestra , Mars , Music , NASA , New York City , Orchestra , Overture Center , photograph , planet , precaution , purse , safety , security , September 11 attacks , symphony , terrorism , terrorist , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Venus , Washington , Wisconsin , Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra , Wisconsin Union Theater



The Well-Tempered Ear

September 23

Classical music: ARRIVE EARLY! The Madison Symphony Orchestra alerts its audiences about new security measures at the Overture Center

By Jacob Stockinger The Madison Symphony Orchestra has sent out the following note, via email and regular mail, about new security measures at the Overture Center . They will be in effect for the three MSO concerts tonight at 7:30 p.m., Saturday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. For more information about the program, visit this link: https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2016/09/21/classical-music-the-madison-symphony-orchestra-opens-its-new-season-this-weekend-with-music-by-holst-and-photographs-by-nasa-in-the-planets-an-hd-odyssey/ “Due to changes in the Overture Center’s security procedures, there will be only THREE main entry points into the building (below) as you come for your concert. When you arrive, please enter at: • The main Overture Center entrance on State Street • An entrance on Fairchild Street (one door only) • The “back” entrance on Henry Street Security stations will be placed at each entrance where Overture staff will conduct a bag search on bags larger than a small purse, including backpacks. We anticipate that the process will be smooth and proceed quickly, although we do recommend you come early for peace of mind so you can enjoy the concert from start to finish! For more information on the Overture Center’s security measures, please visit the website at overturecenter.org/about/security The Ear wonders what effect these new security measures will have on attendance at the symphony, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra concerts, the Madison Opera, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society and other non-musical events. The Ear would like to know if the new security measures come in response to an actual terrorist threat or are simply a new standard operating procedure . The published explanation leans to the latter and says the Overture Center was to take the same precautions that big presenters in, say New York City and Washington, D.C., do. But The Ear wonders: Will similar measures now be adopted by the Wisconsin Union Theater , the University of Wisconsin School of Music and other major local venues. Does anyone have more information or an opinion? What do you think about the necessity or desirability of such measures ? And what was your experience like with the new procedures? Stay tuned. The Ear wants to hear. Tagged: alert , Arts , attack , Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society , backpack , Classical music , DC , Jacob Stockinger , Madison , Madison Opera , Madison Symphony Orchestra , Music , New York City , Orchestra , Overture Center , precaution , purse , safety , security , symphony , terrorism , terrorist , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Washington , Wisconsin , Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra , Wisconsin Union Theater

Johann Sebastian Bach
(1685 – 1750)

Johann Sebastian Bach (21 March 1685, - 28 July 1750) was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity. Although J.S. Bach did not introduce new forms, he enriched the prevailing German style with a robust contrapuntal technique, an unrivalled control of harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the main composers of the Baroque style, and as one of the greatest composers of all time. Revered for their intellectual depth, technical command and artistic beauty, Bach's works include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Partitas, The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Mass in B minor, the St Matthew Passion, the St John Passion, the Magnificat, A Musical Offering, The Art of Fugue, the English and French Suites, the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, the Cello Suites, more than 200 surviving cantatas, and a similar number of organ works, including the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, as well as the Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes and Organ Mass.



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