Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ARCHIVE  •  2010  •  SUN 20  •  MON 21  •  WED 23  •  FRI 25  •  SUN 27

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

Music in the Gardens I:
Reflections of Shakespeare

Susan Montgomery, soprano
Daniel Roihl, countertenor
Jonathan Mack, tenor
Aram Barsamian, baritone

Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Jolianne von Einem, violin
Rob Diggins, viola
William Skeen, violoncello
Timothy Howard, harpsichord
Burton Karson, conductor

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
The Gordian Knot Unty’d, Z 597
Incidental music to a play

Rondeau Minuett

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
The Seasons, from The Fairy Queen, Z 629
Inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Entry Dances
Chorus: Hail! Great Parent
Soprano Air: Thus the ever grateful Spring
Alto Air: Here’s the Summer, sprightly, gay
Tenor Air: See, see my many colour’d fields
Bass Air: Next, Winter comes slowly, pale, meager and old
Chorus: Hail! Great Parent

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Passacaglia in G minor

Handel, arr. Johan Halvorsen (1685-1759)
for violin and violoncello

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
From The Masque in Timon of Athens, Z 632

But over us no griefs prevail
Who can resist such mighty, mighty charms?
Come, let us agree!


Robert Linn (1925-1999)
Cantata Jovialis (In Praise of Love and Music)
Text from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

Quartet: If music be the food of love, play on
Recitative (Sop/Ten/Bar): Would you have a love song, or a song of good life?
Aria (Sop): O mistress mine
Recitative (Ten/Bar): Excellent good, i’ faith
Aria (Bar): To hear by the nose, it is dulcet in contagion
Recitative (Sop/Ten): I am a dog at a catch
Catch: Hold thy peace, let our catch be “Thou knave”
Arioso (Alto/Bar): What a caterwauling do you keep here!
Recitative (Sop/Ten/Bar): Beshrew me, the knight’s in admirable fooling
Aria (Alto/Bar): My masters, are you mad?
Arioso (Alto): Sir Toby, I must be round with you
Quartet: Farewell, dear heart, since I needs be gone
Recitative (Alto/Ten/Bar): Out of tune, sir?
Aria (Ten): Some are born great
Quartet: When that I was a little child
Quartet: If music be the food of Love, play on

Commissioned by the Baroque Music Festival, Corona del Mar. First performed here in 1997 in memory of Robert Sangster, then in 2000 in memory of composer Robert Linn.


The influence from William Shakespeare is apparent in our time in new plays and films, and for centuries, musical compositions have been created either to his words or to texts inspired by him. Purcell’s late-17th-century settings are prime examples. Robert Linn’s late-20th-century cantata should join those ranks. This evening in the Gardens we indulge ourselves in theatrical music based on Shakespeare.


Purcell’s Gordian Knot Unty’d was written for a play of 1691, further details unknown. The music appeared in A Collection of Ayres of 1697, a compilation of his theater music written after 1690 (with dance movements spelled in the typically changeable English manner) and published two years after the composer’s death. BACK


The Fairy Queen clearly is Titania who, with her husband, Oberon, and a band of fairies, has come to Athens from India to bless the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The work is a semi-opera with music by Purcell to a libretto anonymously adapted from Shakespeare’s comedy.

Here each vocal soloist is given seasonal descriptions over sympathetic strings, beginning and culminating in thanks to the “Great Parent of us all,” the Almighty. BACK


Handel’s Passacaglia in G minor was written for harpsichord solo that, much like Stravinsky’s orchestral Suite Italienne to be heard here Friday evening in a violin-violoncello solo arrangement by Piatigorsky, much later was adapted for unaccompanied violin and violoncello by Norwegian violinist and conductor Johan Halvorsen. A harmonic pattern is repeated constantly throughout, but the melody of the opening never clearly returns, even though we are teased by references to it. BACK


Purcell’s Masque is a self-contained scene or entertainment, somewhat like comic relief, within the tragic Timon of Athens. These three choruses present happy thoughts, culminating in “There are pleasures divine in love and in wine!” BACK


Robert Linn’s Cantata Jovialis was commissioned by our Festival and first performed here, in the presence of the composer, on 11 June 1997 in memory of irrepressible musical enthusiast and Festival Board member Robert Sangster. A second performance took place on 21 June 2000 in memory of our dear late friend, Robert Linn. The quite frivolous yet appropriately joyful text, selected by Professor Kay Stanton from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, provides a basis for Linn’s very audience-friendly idiom with distinctly neo-Baroque characteristics.

Of his new piece, Professor Linn wrote: “There are so many different ways of combining notes to make music. The special circumstances surrounding a project often dictate the possible choices and solutions. When I was commissioned by the Baroque Music Festival Corona del Mar to compose a neo-Baroque piece for the 1997 season, I decided to write a tonal work using Baroque forms and procedures, but clearly contemporary in its overtones.

“The text of my secular cantata is set in alternating recitatives and arias (eighteen sections in all) featuring solos, duets, trios and quartets, along with instrumental interludes and ritornellos. The forms and procedures used include canon, fugue, passacaglia, variation, chorale prelude, and various binary structures. The work is scored for four solo voices, string quartet, and harpsichord.” BACK


Through this delightful music, we remember with gratitude our departed friends and, above all, William Shakespeare.

Notes by Burton Karson


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