Sunday, June 25, 2006

ARCHIVE  •  2006  •  SUN 18  •  MON 19  •  WED 21  •  FRI 23  •  SUN 25

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

Festival Finale

Jennifer Foster, soprano
Daniel Roihl, countertenor
Jonathan Mack, tenor
Tyler Thompson, baritone
Festival Chorus & Orchestra
Burton Karson, conductor

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
Hail, Bright Cecilia
Excerpts from Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, 1692
Text by N. Brady


Recitative (bass) and Chorus
Hail! bright Cecilia, Hail! Fill ev’ry heart with love of thee and thy celestial Art.

Hail! Hail! bright Cecilia, hail to thee! Great patroness of us and Harmony.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Hear My Prayer
Psalm 55:1-7, for soprano and chorus

Hear my prayer, O God incline thine ear!
Thyself from my petition do not hide!
Take heed to me! Hear how in prayer I mourn to Thee!
Without Thee all is dark, I have no guide.

Allegro moderato
The enemy shouteth, the godless come fast!
Iniquity, hatred, upon me they cast!
The wicked oppress me; ah, where shall I fly?
Perplex’d and bewilder’d, O God, hear my cry!

My heart is sorely pain’d within my breast,
My soul with deathly terror is oppress’d,
Trembling and fearfulness upon me fall,
With horror overwhelm’d, Lord, hear me call!

O for the wings, for the wings of a dove!
Far away, far away would I rove!
In the wilderness build me a nest,
and remain there for ever at rest.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!, BWV 70
Cantata for the 26th Sunday after Trinity
Text by Salomo Franck and Bach

Part One

Chorus: Wachet, betet
Watch, pray, keep prepared for the day when the Lord of majesty brings this world to an end!

Recitativo (bass): Erschrecket, ihr verstockten Sünder!
Be frightened, stubborn sinners! A day shall dawn from which no one can hide, bringing you to a strict judgment, O sinful generation, to lasting heartbreak. To you, God’s children, it brings the beginning of true gladness. The Savior calls you, when all else collapses, before his exalted face, so be not afraid!

Aria (alto): Wann kommt der Tag
When comes the day when we’re taken from this Egypt of a world? Ah, let us soon flee from Sodom before the fire overwhelms! Awake, souls, from your complacency, and believe that this is the final hour!

Recitativo (tenor): Auch bei dem himmlischen Verlangen
In spite of our heavenly longings, our body holds the spirit captive; through its guile, the world sets nets and traps for the pious. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, forcing our sorrowful “Alas!”

Lass der Spötter Zungen schmähen
Leave scorning to mocking tongues, for it will and must happen that we shall see Jesus in the clouds, in the heavens. Earth and sky may perish, Christ’s word stands fast; Leave scorning to mocking tongues, for it will and has to happen!

Recitativo (tenor): Jedoch! bei dem unartigen Geschlechte
Yet amidst this evil generation, God cares for his servants, that this wicked breed won’t further harm you. He holds them firmly in his hand, and brings them to a heavenly Eden.

Chorale: Freu’ dich sehr, o meine Seele
Be glad, O my soul, and forget all need and torment, for now Christ, your Lord, calls you from this vale of tears!

Part Two

Aria (tenor): Hebt euer Haupt empor
Look up, and be consoled, you righteous, that your souls may bloom! You shall flourish in Eden, eternally serving God.

Recitativo (bass): Ach, soll nicht dieser grosse Tag
Ah, ought this awful day, the world’s end, the trumpet’s call, the final stroke, the judge’s proclamation, the open gates of hell, in my doubts, fear and terror, in me, a child of sin, awaken? Yet, there is in my spirit a light of hope. The Savior cannot hide his heart that breaks with pity. His merciful arm forsakes me not. Lead on, that I shall end my course with gladness.

Aria (bass): Seligster Erquikkungstag
Blessed day of refreshment, lead me to your dwellings! Sound, crack, final stroke, world and heaven, go to ruins! Jesus leads me to stillness, where are joy and abundance.

Chorale: Nicht nach Welt, nach Himmel nicht
Not for world or heaven does my soul yearn; I seek Jesus and his light. He has reconciled me to God and sets me free from judgment. My Jesus, I’ll not leave.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
God is our refuge, K. 20 (1765)
Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Ave verum corpus, K. 618 (1791)

Hail, true body born of the Virgin Mary, sacrificed on the cross for us, whose torn side flowed with blood and water. Nourish us now and in the agony of death.

Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1634-1704)
Te Deum
for chorus and soloists
with Maria Cristina Navarro, Soprano II


Chorus: Te Deum Laudamus
We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.

Chorus: Te aeternum Patrem
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting. To thee all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein.

Soloists: Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts.

Chorus: Pleni sunt caeli et terra majestatis gloriae tuae
Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory. The glorious company of the apostles praise thee. The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee. The noble army of martyrs praise thee.

Soloists: Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia
The holy church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee, the father of an infinite majesty; thine honorable, true, and only Son; also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Thou art the king of glory, O Christ, thou art the everlasting Son of the Father When thou took’st upon thee to deliver man, thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.

Chorus: Te devicto mortis aculeo
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.

Solo (bass): Judex crederis
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father. We believe that thou shalt come to be our judge.

Solo (soprano): Te ergo quaesumus
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.

Chorus: Aeterna fac cum Sanctis tuis
Make them to be numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting. O Lord, save thy people and bless thine heritage. Govern them and lift them up for ever. Day by day we magnify thee, and we worship thy name, ever world without end.

Duet (soprano, bass): Dignare Domino dei isto
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin. O Lord, have mercy upon us.

Trio (soprano, alto, bass): Fiat misericordia tua
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us, as our trust is in thee.

Chorus: In te, Domine
O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.

This concert is offered in loving memory of
Cecilia Karson (1907-2005)

This afternoon’s concert opens with the Overture, an introductory recitative for baritone, and first and final choruses from Purcell’s great “Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day” of 1692, thus acknowledging the legendary Cecilia as the great patroness of our art. BACK


Mendelssohn’s extensive outpouring of religious compositions constitutes one of the nineteenth century’s treasure troves of sacred music. His lifelong admiration of the great works of J. S. Bach produced performances of then out-of-fashion Baroque music and led him to compose some choral and organ pieces in neo-Baroque style. His several visits to London and travels and performances in Scotland, Italy, Austria and Switzerland and his eventual leadership of the famous Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and public performances as a piano virtuoso made him an international musical sensation.

Hear my prayer, a sacred cantata that he categorized as “hymn,” is in a lush nineteenth century Romantic style that minimally includes neo-Baroque techniques: soloist versus chorus in closely echoing imitation, quasi-operatic recitative, and contrasting tempos in sections within the balanced form. To a stirring text from Psalm 55, this music for soprano and chorus glories in dramatic outbursts, an introspective recitative, and an exquisitely melodic and prayerful closing plea. BACK


Bach’s church cantata No. 70, composed first in December of 1716 in Weimar for the Second Sunday of Advent (this version being lost), was revised six months after his arrival in Leipzig in 1723 for the 26th Sunday after Trinity. The text, “Watch and pray for the coming of the Lord,” is both reflective and dramatic. For this musical setting, he employed four soloists, four-part chorus, and string orchestra with oboe and trumpet. The admonition to be glad at the prospect of death is reinforced in the chorales that end the two parts that are designed for liturgical performance before and after the Sunday morning sermon, the tradition being for the congregation to join in singing the familiar chorales.

Especially compelling passages should be noticed in the shivering chords that accompany the first recitative, Erschrecket, ihr verstockten Sünde! (Be frightened, stubborn sinners!); in the agitation that accompanies the last recitative, Ach, soll nicht dieser grosse Tag(Ah, ought not this most awful day); in the emotional soprano solo, Lasst der Spötter Zungen schmähen (Leave to mocking tongues their scorning) with solo violin; and in the happy accompaniment to the lovely tenor solo, Hept euer Haupt empor (Lift up your heads once more). BACK


In observation of this year’s 250th anniversary of the birth of Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, we include two of his very brief motets. The first, written during a prolonged visit in London with his father in summer of 1765, is a stylistically conservative (neo- Baroque) setting in English of Psalm 46:1, perhaps done as a compositional exercise in choral writing by the then nine-year-old genius. The second, to a sweetly somber Latin text, was set during Mozart’s last months, and represents an emotional outpouring that remains for us one of the composer’s enduring gems. BACK


The Parisian Marc-Antoine Charpentier, surely the greatest French composer of the seventeenth century, studied with Carissimi in Rome, but never gained the royal favor accorded to the Italian-born Lully by Louis XIV. He served French nobles, worked in the musical theater, composed large-scale pieces for royal events, and taught the Duke of Chartres who later, as Duke of Orléans, became Regent of France. Charpentier’s compositional oeuvre for the church is staggering in its scope, including a dozen masses, hundreds of motets, antiphons, litanies, lessons, responsories, Psalm settings and oratorios. He also produced some serious airs and several drinking songs.

Of his four extant settings of the Te Deum, this one, for five soloists, a four-voiced choir, trumpet, timpani, winds and strings, represents Charpentier at his best. The joyous text of praise was used often historically to celebrate military victories. Here soloists and choir hand off singing assignments like batons in a relay, the solos and ensembles of soloists alternating in short order with choral sections, all progressing full bore to a rousing final setting of “O Lord, in thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded.”BACK

Notes by Burton Karson


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