Sunday, June 19, 2005

ARCHIVE  •  2005  •  SUN 19  •  MON 20  •  WED 22  •  FRI 24  •  SUN 26

Saint Michael & All Angels Church, 4 p.m.

Baroque Concertos

Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
William Skeen, violoncello
Marianne Richter Pfau, oboe
Gabriel Arregui, organ & harpsichord
Festival Orchestra
Burton Karson, conductor

Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729)
Concerto in G minor
for oboe; ed. Burton Karson


Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Concerto in G, RV 413
for violoncello


Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770)
Concerto in A, D 91
for violin



George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Concerto in B flat, Op. 4, No. 6
for organ

Allegro moderato

Robert Linn (1925-1999)
Concerto Grosso
for oboe, harpsichord & string orchestra


Robert Linn’s concerto was commissioned for our 1992 Festival through a generous grant by Drs. Rosemary and Donald Leake.

Johann David Heinichen is known these days as much by musical historians and theorists as by performing musicians. He studied harpsichord and organ at Leipzig’s Thomasschule under Johann Kuhnau, J.S. Bach’s predecessor, then earned a law degree at Leipzig University, after which he practiced law in Weissenfels. There Duke Johann Georg and Kapellmeister Johann Krieger encouraged him to write music for the court. Giving up law, he then composed operas for Leipzig, directed the Collegium Musicum there, composed for other courts, and wrote his famous treatise on thoroughbass (basso continuo) that was published in 1711. He worked in Venice where he knew Vivaldi, in Rome where he taught Prince Leopold of Anhalt-C÷then (later Bach’s patron), and spent the last dozen years of his life as Kapellmeister in Dresden.

Heinichen’s cantatas, concertos, orchestral suites, chamber works, masses and his many sacred cantatas and liturgical pieces place him in the forefront of 18th-century composers. This lovely and exuberantly Vivaldi-like Concerto in G minor that opens our 25th anniversary season was first edited from the unpublished manuscript found in Darmstadt’s Archducal Library by Burton Karson, and was performed by Laurence Timm in our inaugural Festival of 1981. BACK


Of Vivaldi’s approximately five hundred concertos, some two hundred are for solo violin, and over two dozen are for solo violoncello. Performed for us by the late Mark Chatfield in 1997, this Concerto in G begins with furious downward scales in the low strings under both dotted and even eighth notes in the violins and violas. The solo cello occasionally emerges from the first movement din with boldly virtuosic passages, almost completely dominates the slow movement, and nearly goes mad in the finale. One must remember, although it is difficult to believe, that these concertos probably were written for performances by the very young ladies of the Venetian orphanage where Vivaldi taught, the Pio Ospedale della PietÓ. BACK


Handel seemingly invented the organ concerto which, during and after his time, was much imitated in England and on the Continent. The composer loved to improvise organ concertos during the intervals of his oratorios, later fleshing them out in written form for publication. The famous Concerto in B flat debuted originally as a harp concerto during a performnce of Alexander’s Feast in 1736, but appeared in the 1738 London publication of the six organ concertos of Opus 4. Thus it is for either harp or organ. The famous theme of the opening movement will be heard again at the conclusion of this program, in the final movement of Robert Linn’s Concerto Grosso for Oboe, Harpsichord and Strings. Lou Ann Neill played the harp version here in 1993, Thomas Annand the organ version in 1998. BACK


Giuseppe Tartini was a very late Baroque composer who edged toward the galant or Pre-Classical style. His departure from Italy for a 1723-1726 stay in Prague evidently was due to the threat of a paternity suit by his Venetian landlady, and one of his published concertos survives in a Dresden manuscript from 1724. This concerto in A major seems largely Vivaldian, as orchestral ritornellos alternate with figurative solo passage work in the two outer fast movements, and a short central “aria” for solo violin features brief introductory and closing orchestral ritornellos.

Elizabeth Blumenstock writes, “Most of the solo passages are accompanied only by the basso continuo, as if the concerto has crossbred with a solo sonata. In the Presto, the final ritornello is abruptly broken off, and the words a Capriccio are written in the score where clearly the soloist is expected to improvise a cadenza, following which the ritornello resumes where it left off, as though nothing had happened. This cadenza has little of the formal grandeur of the later classical cadenza; rather the piece is briefly and unexpectedly hijacked by the soloist.” BACK


Robert Linn’s delightful four-movement Concerto Grosso, commissioned late in 1992 and completed the next spring, was written specifically for oboist Donald Leake, who premiered it in our 1993 Festival with harpsichordist Malcolm Hamilton. We repeated it in 1998, with oboist Gonzalo Ruiz and harpsichordist Katherine Shao, “in joyful remembrance of the life of Donald Leake, M.D. (1931-1997).”

Admired USC Professor and prolific composer Robert Linn (photo) managed to infuse his expressive contemporary style with neo-Baroque elements: 18th-century sonorities, concertato alternations between soloists and orchestra, the use of ornaments (notably in the extended trills of the second and third movements and the mordents at the beginning of the third), and in his use of Handel’s organ concerto theme in the fourth movement. The alert listener also will detect a humorous touch of Mahler. Today’s performance is in loving memory of the composer. BACK

Notes by Buron Karson


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