Wednesday, June 22, 2005

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

Sherman Library & Gardens, Central Patio Room, 8 p.m.

Music in the Gardens I

Kendra Colton, soprano
Jonathan Mack, tenor
Aram Barsamian, baritone
Elizabeth Blumenstock, Jolianne von Einem, violins
Rob Diggins, viola
William Skeen, violoncello
Gabriel Arregui, harpsichord
Festival Chorus & Orchestra
Burton Karson, conductor

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Concerto in G major, RV 151
for strings


Dario Castello (early 17th century)
Sonata XV
for strings

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda
The battle between Tancredi and Clorinda (sung in English)
From Madrigals of Love and War, published 1638

Christoph Förster (1693-1745)
Concerto in E flat
for oboe & strings

Allegro ma non presto
Adagio con Affetto
Allegro molto


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
The Coffee Cantata, BWV 211

Narrator, tenor
Schlendrian (Father), baritone
Lieschen (Daughter), soprano

Recitative (Narrator): Be silent! not a word!
Aria (Schlendrian): Children oftentimes are headaches
Recitative (Schlendrian, Lieschen): You naughty child!
Aria (Lieschen): Hail, thou most precious of blisses

Recitative (Schlendrian, Lieschen): If I see coffee near about
Aria (Schlendrian): Daughters, you are all pigheaded

Recitative (Schlendrian, Lieschen): Now listen to your father talk
Aria (Lieschen): Happy day, darling Father, don’t delay
Recitative (Narrator): Old Schlendrian is searching far and wide
Trio: As mice to cats, the coffee-craze is all the rage

The Coffee Cantata is sung in memory of Ina Vella Ogden.

Vivaldi’s usual manner in constructing concertos was to alternate ritornelli, the returning main theme sections played by the string orchestra or ripieno, with prominent solo sections that called attention to the virtuoso. Those few concertos that do not primarily focus on a soloist are referred to as “ripieno concertos.” This energetic work, known as “alla rustica,” is of the ripieno type, although the first violin has chances to emerge during the slow movement. BACK


Dario Castello’s very early Baroque style was introduced to our Festival patrons through his Sonata Concertate on the Friday Gardens concert of 1999. His sonata form predates the multi-movements that we know from a slightly later period, the tempo changes coming fast and often. In this sonata per strumenti d’arco, with harpsichord support, the tempo indications are: Adagio-Allegro-Adagio-Allegro-Adagio-Adagio-Allegro-Adagio-Allegro-Adagio without clear separations. Here is a fine illustration of a very early 17th-century instrumental style that immediately preceded Monteverdi’s splendid achievements. BACK


Claudio Monteverdi was a prime catalyst in the musical transition from Renaissance to Baroque, his madrigals representing the ultimate in High Renaissance polyphony, with a distinct leaning toward dramatic sentiment. Influenced by the Florentine Camerata’s turn of the 17th-century stile rappresentativo and invention of dramma per musica, he wrote the first real opera (in modern terms), La favola d’Orfeo in 1607, and then many more until his last, L’Incoronazione di Poppea in 1642, both of these still in the operatic repertoire. He added the emerging basso continuo to madrigals, and he magnified musical theater to a then unimaginably emotional degree.

Inspired by Tasso’s description of Tancredi’s fight with Clorinda in Gerusalemme liberata, he set the poetry to music that was published in Mantua in 1593. Thirty years later, he created this semi-operatic genere rappresentativo setting for three voices — a narrator and the two principals — and strings that eventually appeared in his eighth book of madrigals. The premiere performance of 1624 in the Venetian home of his patron, Girolamo Mozzenigo, included a real horse in the living room! The strings participate strongly in the telling, introducing the exciting stile concitato bowing for powerful dramatic thrust. The gripping tragedy ends with the religious conversion of the dying Clorinda. BACK


Christoph Förster, a prolific if forgotten composer learned thoroughbass and composition from Heinichen (see the notes from Sunday’s concerto concert) and served as violinist and then Konzertmeister in the Merseburg court where he dedicated six sonatas, six cantatas and twelve concertos to the duchess, among them this oboe concerto in E flat. Förster was granted leaves of absence from Merseburg on several occasions — in 1719 to visit Heinichen at Dresden, and in 1723 to meet eminent musicians involved in the coronation celebrations of Charles VI at Prague. Few works of this extremely prolific composer appeared in print in the 18th century, and only one is in current publication.

Dr. Pfau writes, “I am grateful to the Festival for the opportunity to premier the oboe concerto, and to Schwerin Landesbibliothek for the permission to do so. An edition is forthcoming.” BACK


Bach had a light side. Balancing his dedicated output of hundreds of church cantatas are more than thirty secular cantatas for birthdays, name days of local nobles, university and town council installations and weddings. The Coffee Cantata, Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be silent, not a word), to Picander’s text, to which Bach seems to have added the last two sections himself, was written for an evening of secular amusement in Leipzig.

Here, as in many other frothy works, old Sebastian used music to satirize contemporary society. The drinking of coffee was a widespread fad during the 18th century, with coffee houses in major cities becoming the meeting places of choice (easy for us to understand!). This whimsical piece questions the wisdom of drinking too much of the brew, pokes fun at a frustrated father who tries to exert control over his charmingly stubborn daughter, and illustrates the determination of “modern” young ladies to do exactly as they wish. Little has changed. BACK

Notes by Burton Karson


Post Office Box 838 | Corona del Mar, CA 92625-0838
Tel. (949) 760-7887 |
Kindly report any problem to the webmaster.