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Sunday, June 27, 2010

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

Newport Harbor Lutheran Church, 4 p.m.

Festival Finale:
A Celebration of Thirty Seasons

Susan Montgomery, soprano
Daniel Roihl, countertenor
Jonathan Mack, tenor
Christopher Lindbloom, baritone
Festival Chorus & Orchestra
Burton Karson, conductor


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80

Chorus: A mighty fortress is our God

Duet (soprano & bass):
    All that which of God is fathered


Recitative (bass): Consider well, O child of God

Aria (soprano): Come in my heart’s abode

Chorus: And were the world with devils filled

Recitative (tenor):
    So stand then under Christ’s bloodstained flag


Duet (alto & tenor):
    Blessed are those who proclaim God


Chorale: That word they must allow to stand

Intermission

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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Nun ist das Heil, BWV 50
Cantata in one movement, for double chorus

Now is the health and the strength and the kingdom and might of our God and of his Christ come to us, for he who was accusing thee day and night before God is cast down.


Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
O Heiland, reiss die Himmel auf, Op. 74, No. 2
A cappella motet for mixed voices

Versus I: O Savior, throw the heavens wide; come down with speed unto our side. Unbar the gates and let us in; unbar what once was lock and pin.

Versus II: As gentle dew from heaven falls, descend, O Lord, and cover all. Ye rainclouds break, and torrents bring; let Israel receive her king.

Versus III: O earth, in flower be seen! Let hill and dale be ever green. O earth, bring forth one blossom rare, O Savior, from the meadow fair.

Versus IV: Here suffer we a heavy doom: before us yawns the cheerless tomb. Ah, come, lead us with steady hand from exile to our native land.

Versus V: So let us all be thanking thee, for thou has ever set us free. So let us praise Thee o’er and o’er, from this time on and evermore. Amen.


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Sanctus in C, BWV 237

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.


Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Concerto Grosso No. 3 in F

Allegro
Largo
Allegro
Largo
Allegro


Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Magnificat from Vespero di Santa Cecilia
Luke 1: 46-55

My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
    for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
    the Almighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those
    who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
    he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
    and he has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,
    for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
    to Abraham and his posterity forever.
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.

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George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Coronation Anthem No. 1, Zadok the Priest
From I Kings 1: 38–40

Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet
    anointed Solomon King.
And all the people rejoic’d and said:
God save the King! Long live the King!
May the King live for ever, Allelujah, Amen.

Reception


Our 2010 Festival Finale caps thirty seasons of inspiring, uplifting, entertaining and even frivolous Baroque, Romantic neo-Baroque, and Contemporary music, some of the latter commissioned for us. Several first performances anywhere in recent centuries have been here in new editions from scores discovered in European libraries. Today’s Festival Finale reprises favorites from past seasons, some using the full Baroque orchestra, some only strings, one a cappella.

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Bach’s great chorale cantata A Mighty Fortress is our God is set to a text and tune by Martin Luther, the 16th-century monk who translated the Bible from Latin into German, was responsible for the Protestant Reformation that began in Germany and spread throughout Europe and England, and who prized the value of sacred music for the people’s participation in liturgies and for singing in their homes. This universally recognized chorale is found today in hymnals of nearly every Christian denomination, including Roman Catholic.

Luther’s text and tune are heard throughout Bach’s cantata that was written for Leipzig’s Reformation Festival of 1724 (revised from a version of a year earlier, with substantial musical borrowings from a cantata of 1715, now lost). The congregation would have joined on the final hymn-like movement. BACK

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Nun ist das Heil might well have been intended as the opening chorus of a longer cantata, lost or uncompleted. The maturity of this fugal setting (the only double chorus in all of Bach’s cantatas) of the tenth verse of Revelation 12 that was appointed for the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel suggests that it was a late work. The ascending pitches on Heil (salvation), Kraft (strength), Reich (kingdom) and Macht (might) of the opening phrase create a strong and compellingly dramatic statement. BACK

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Brahms admired Baroque polyphony so much that he often wrote polyphonic settings that actually sound like J. S. Bach, although with late-Romantic harmonic excursions. He was an original subscriber (his name printed on the published list of subscribers) to the Bach-Gesellschaft, a society formed in 1850, exactly a century after Bach’s death, in order to publish his collected works.

O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf is a set of variations on an Advent chorale. Each successive section (Versus) contains clearly delineated moods and descriptive phrases that are dramatized intensely, sometimes even through modified tone painting. Brahms here creates an economical choral statement of both feverish yearning and exuberant joy. BACK

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Bach’s Sanctus in C is a single standing movement, not a portion of a complete mass. In fact, Bach wrote several such movements, including four Lutheran Masses that consist of only Kyrie and Gloria. Even his monumental Mass in B minor is a collection of mass movements created at various times from portions of earlier cantatas. This Sanctus, like his festive Cantatas 50 and 80, requires three trumpets in addition to oboes, bassoon, timpani, strings and organ. BACK

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A lessandro Scarlatti was the father of Domenico Scarlatti, famed as the composer of harpsichord sonatas for the Queen of Spain. Alessandro, born in Sicily, is noted especially for his cantatas and other sacred works written in Rome under the patronage there of Queen Christina of Sweden, and he is credited with being the creator of the 18th century Neopolitan School. He produced nearly 70 operas (plus contributions to operas by others), nearly 40 oratorios and large sacred works that include masses and mass movements, more than 600 secular cantatas, over 80 motets, 27 responsories, solo keyboard pieces, and dozens of concertos and sonatas plus theoretical and pedagogical works.

This Concerto Grosso in F is No. 2 of 12 dating from 1715. For string orchestra, it contains intermittent solo first and second violin and violoncello passages that contrast with the tutti strings. BACK

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S carlatti’s Magnificat is a setting of the Song of Mary, found in Luke 1, that is essential to Evening Prayer or Vespers. Composers through the centuries have lavished great efforts on 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. Dramatic 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.

Our edition of this Magnificat was prepared by this writer from a microfilm of the never-published manuscript score and performed for the first time in America on the Festival Finale of our 1992 season. After great demand, it was repeated here in 1994 and 2005, and it provides a vivid inclusion to our 30th season. BACK

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H andel’s Zadok the Priest is the first of four choral anthems composed for the coronation of George II in Westminster Abbey on 11 October 1727. It has been performed for the coronations of every British sovereign since then. First Kings from the Hebrew Scriptures tells about David who called Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet to anoint his son, Solomon, king over Israel. They mounted Solomon on King David’s mule, escorted him down to Gihon, took the horn of oil from the Tent of the Lord and anointed Solomon.

“They sounded the trumpet and the people shouted, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then the people escorted him home in procession, with great rejoicing and playing of pipes, so that the very earth split with the noise.” BACK

Notes by Burton Karson

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