Sunday, June 26, 2005

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

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

Festival Finale

Kendra Colton, soprano
Joseph Mathieu, countertenor
Jonathan Mack, tenor
Christopher Lindbloom, baritone
Festival Chorus & Orchestra
Burton Karson, conductor

Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Magnificat from Vespero di Santa Cecilia

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed: for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of this mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Soprano II is sung by Rebecca Caballero.

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day


Recitative (tenor)
From harmony, from heav’nly harmony

Recitative (tenor), accompanied
When Nature underneath a heap of jarring atoms lay

From harmony, from heav’nly harmony

Air (soprano)
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?

Air (tenor) and chorus
The trumpet’s loud clangour excites us to arms


Air (soprano)
The soft complaining flute

Air (tenor)
Sharp violins proclaim their jealous pangs

Air (soprano) with organ obbligato
But oh! what art can teach

Air (soprano)
Orpheus could lead the savage race

But bright Cecilia rais’d the wonder high’r

Solo (soprano) & chorus
As from the power of sacred lays; the dead shall live, the living die, and music shall untune the sky


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Easter Oratorio, BWV 249



Duet (tenor & bass) & chorus
Kommt, eilet und laufet...
    Come, hasten and run, ye nimble feet, to reach the cavern
     which shelters Jesus. Laughter and gladness fills our hearts,
     for our Savior has been awakened.

Recitative (quartet)
(alto:) O kalter Männer Sinn!...
    O frigid mind of men! Where has the love gone which
     you owe to the Saviour?

(soprano:) Ein schwaches Weib muss euch beschämen!
    To be put to shame by a frail woman!
(tenor:) Ach! Ein betrübtes Grämen
    Ah! A sorrowful grieving
(bass:) und banges Herzeleid
    and distressful heartache.
(tenor & bass:) hat mit gesalz’nen Tränen...
    with salty tears and woeful yearning,
    was intended as a balm for Him.

(soprano and alto:) die ihr wie wir umsonst gemacht.
    which you and we prepared in vain.

Aria (soprano)
Seele, deine Spezereien...
    Soul, for your fragrance myrrh will do no longer.
     For only the glory of a laurel wreath can quiet your
     anxious longing.

Recitative (quartet)
(tenor:) Hier ist die Gruft,
    Here is the tomb,
(bass:) und hier der Stein...
    and here the stone which covered it; but where could
     my Saviour be?

(alto:) Er ist vom Tode auferweckt!...
    He is awakened from death! We encountered an angel
     who made this known to us.

(tenor:) Hier seh’ ich mit Vergnügen...
    With joy I see lying here the unwound headcloth.

Aria (tenor)
Sanft soll mein Todeskummer nur ein Schlummer...
    The pain of my death be but a gentle slumber, Jesus,
     because of your headcloth. Yet, it will refresh me there,
     and the tears of my pain it will wipe consolingly
     from my cheeks.

Recitative (soprano & alto)
Indessen seufzen wir...
    Meanwhile, we sigh with burning eagerness —

Arioso (soprano & alto)
Ach! könnt’ es doch...
    Ah, if it might only happen soon, to see the
     Saviour himself!

Aria (alto)
Sagest, sagest mir geschwinde...
    Tell, tell me, quickly, tell me where I may find Jesus
     whom my soul adores. Come, oh come, embrace me,
     for without You my heart is sorely orphaned
     and distressed.

Recitative (bass)
Wir sind erfreut...
    We are happy that our Jesus lives again, and our hearts
     which first had been flowing over with sadness have
     forgotten their pain and dwell on songs of joy, for our
     lives again.

Preis und Dank...
    Praise and thanks shall be, Lord, your song of glory.
     Hell and Satan are vanquished, their gates are destroyed;
rejoice, ye delivered tongues, that it may be heard in Heaven.

Eröffnet, ihr Himmel, die prächtigen Bogen...
    Open, ye Heavens, the magnificent arches; the Lion of
     Judah comes marching victorious!

The first half of our 25th Festival Finale is inspired by Saint Cecilia, a very early Christian martyr who, since the 16th century, has been acknowledged (without any historical justification) as the patroness of music. For her appointed saint’s day in November, musicians through the centuries on the Continent and especially in England have composed and performed vocal and instrumental pieces in her honor and for their own musical pleasure.

Alessandro Scarlatti, father of Domenico, the famous composer of harpsichord sonatas, was born in Sicily and spent his active years in Rome and Naples. His output includes about 80 operas, dozens of masses, motets, oratorios and other sacred works, and over 600 secular cantatas mostly on the subject of love. Magnificat, the Song of Mary found in Luke 1, is essential to Evening Prayer or Vespers, and composers throughout the centuries have lavished great efforts on settings of this poignant canticle. Here Scarlatti employs the stile concertato to splendid effect, writing dramatic contrasts among the five soloists and between the soloists and the five-part choir. The changes in meter and tempo give musical expression to the words, and the overall drama of the piece reflects the Roman celebration of Saint Cecilia’s Day 1720, for which Scarlatti composed and conducted it.

An edition of this Magnificat was prepared from a microfilm of the never-published handwritten score and performed for the first time in America on the final concert of our 1992 Festival. After great demand, it was repeated here in 1994, and today receives another performance from a new edition. BACK


Handel, like Purcell before him, seems to have been quite taken with the English festivities for Saint Cecilia’s Day for which he composed two odes: Alexander’s Feast of 1736 (performed in our Festivals of 1985 and 1998) and the Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day of 1739 (performed here in 1983), both to texts by John Dryden. This Saint Cecilia ode was produced by Handel himself at Lincoln’s Inn Fields on 17 November 1739 and, because it was a financially successful crowd-pleaser, was repeated several activities times that same season. A benefit performance the next year was for the Fund for Decayed Musicians!

Various colorful solos and choruses describe the place of musical instruments in the grand scenario of life and human most exalted use of instruments, thanks to Saint Cecilia who often was pictured holding a portative, is that for the organ in praise of the Creator (hear it especially in the soprano aria, “But oh! what art can teach, what human voice can reach the sacred organ’s praise?”). Following the soloist’s glorious final phrase, “The trumpet shall be heard on high,” the trumpet sounds judgment day when, as the chorus tells us, “the dead shall live, the living die, and music shall untune the sky.” BACK


Bach’s great Easter Oratorio has no narration of events in time, the dramatic solo and solo ensemble recitatives, melodic arias and splendid choruses being set to non-biblical texts. First performed as a cantata for Easter of 1725 in Leipzig, it later was extended into the Oratorium Festo Paschali for four soloists and choir, supported by an orchestra of three trumpets, timpani, recorders, oboes, strings and basso continuo (low strings, bassoon and organ). Bach, as was his habit when hurried, borrowed some of the music from his secular Shepherd Cantata, written earlier the same year for the birthday of Duke Christian of Saxe-Weissenfels.

The oratorio designation hinges on the characters represented by the soloists: Mary, the mother of James, who wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair after anointing them with oil; Mary Magdalene; and Peter and John. The chorus represents no historical crowds, but rather the Christian community that exults in the joy of the Resurrection. BACK

Notes by Burton Karson


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