MEDIA PARTNER

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

ARCHIVE  •  2012  •  SUN 17  •  MON 18  •  WED 20  •  FRI 22  •  SUN 24

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

Music in the Gardens I

Christine Brandes, soprano
Stephen Schultz, flute
Judith Linsenberg, recorder
Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Jolianne von Einem, violin
Rob Diggins, viola
Shirley Edith Hunt, violoncello
Ian Pritchard, harpsichord
Elizabeth Blumenstock, conductor
 


Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Fantasia VII for solo recorder

Alla Francese (Ouverture – vite)
(Vite)


Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
“Viola” Quartet No. 5 in G major, TWV 43G5

Adagio
Allegro
Adagio
Allegro


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Allemande from Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007
for solo violoncello


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Cantata Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209

Sinfonia
Recitativo
Aria
Recitativo
Aria

Intermission


Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1689-1755)
Duo No. 3 in D major, Op. 51
for flute and violin

Largo
Allegro


Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1689-1755)
Concerto in E minor, Op. 3

Allegro
Adagio
Allegro


George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Passacaglia from Suite No. 7 in G minor, HWV 432
for solo harpsichord

Largo
Allegro


George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Cantata Mi palpita il cor, HWV 132c
sung in Italian

Arioso e Recitativo: I feel my heart beating
Aria: My worries are so plentiful
Recitativo: Clori, I complain about you
Aria: If my cruel beloved


Marin Marais (1656-1728)
Chaconne from Alcione

Reception

This concert is dedicated to the memory of
Jean Galanos (1919-2011)
Talented alto soloist who sang in our first Festival, in 1981, and who continued as a dedicated supporter of the Festival for the rest of her life


Georg Philipp Telemann was a composer of prodigious ability, and now holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most prolific composer of all time. His genius lay not only in the quantity of work he produced, but in its quality: Handel reportedly remarked that “Telemann could write a church piece in eight parts with the same expedition that another would write a letter.”

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Telemann’s Fantasia VII is in the form of a French overture, complete with a triple-meter allegro. There’s something charmingly whimsical about this grand form, usually associated with the pomp of a full orchestra, being performed by just one tiny instrument! Telemann has added a light, quick movement after the “overture”— it is unnamed, but resembles a bourée in character. BACK

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T he “Viola” quartet that follows is necessarily a more complex affair. Telemann begins with what might seem rather learned counterpoint, were it not so sweet in character. The Allegro boasts a wonderfully expansive arpeggiated and energetic theme, with fugal entrances for all four voices. A melancholy murmuring adagio leads into a brisk finale.

One of the hallmarks of Telemann’s compositional style, particularly in chamber music, is the democratic way in which he shares his thematic material among the parts. This is much to the benefit of the violist, who usually gets shorter shrift! BACK

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The allemande, considered as a genre of dance, varied quite a bit in character, meter, and tempo throughout the Baroque era. But by Bach’s time, composer and music theorist Johann Mattheson described it as “a serious and well-composed harmoniousness in arpeggiated style, expressing satisfaction or amusement, and delighting in order and calm.” This beautifully captures the character of the Allemande from J. S. Bach’s Suite No 1. BACK

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C antata 209, one of only two cantatas by Bach in Italian, is a bit of a mystery, as the occasion of its composition is unknown, likewise the librettist. The text suggests that it was written as a farewell to a departing friend. The opening Sinfonia, quite a lengthy piece, suggests a concerto; there is the tantalizing possibility that this was the first movement of a now-lost flute concerto.

The first aria, Parti pur, is written in the “galant” or “rococo” style, meaning there is less complicated part-writing, and more focus on melodiousness and ornament. This is a style that was gaining popularity in the late Baroque era. The final aria is a spirited triplemeter romp; notice the rather unusual rhythmic figure, a “Scottish snap,” not at all a common feature of Bach’s music. BACK

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IIt is probably fair to characterize Joseph Bodin de Boismortier as both a composer and an ambitious entrepreneur. The rise of a European middle class with the means and leisure to learn to play and sing at an amateur level provided him with a burgeoning clientele, and he shrewdly targeted this class with many works for the instruments most popular with them: voice, flute, harpsichord, oboe and violin.

Boismortier’s Concerto in E minor provides another example of an orchestra-less concerto, for those of you who heard Telemann’s concerto for four violins at our Sunday concert. In this case, the harpsichord offers a lot of background support; each of the featured “soloists” gets a turn in the spotlight in the outer movements, but they all come together imitatively and cooperatively in the tender slow movement. BACK

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George Frideric Handel is probably known more for his oratorios and his operas than his chamber music and cantatas, but he excelled at these as well. The Passacaglia from his 7th Suite for keyboard is a buoyant and grand piece throughout, and has inspired countless arrangements (including one for oboe and harp!). A passacaglia is usually identified by its unchanging bass line, generally a few bars long, repeated from beginning to end; Handel alters the bass line for a few repetitions, inserting a highly chromatic variation, which adds to the color and richness of the work as a whole. BACK

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Handel wrote well over a hundred secular cantatas, having mastered the form during his sojourn in Italy (1706 to 1710). The version of Mi palpita il Cor we are performing tonight (he wrote at least three) was probably composed in London in 1710, shortly after he settled in England. The text, like so many Italian secular cantatas of the period, is all about the torments of love. Though nowadays sung by a soprano, the “I” of the text is a man, pining after an inevitably cruel beloved, and the role would have been sung by a castrato in Handel’s time.

The opening recitative begins with a startling vocal evocation of a painfully beating heart. The aria Ho tanti affanni is dolorous and chromatic. Despite the general love-struck gloom, a faint hope arises in the breast of the suitor, and the mood of the final aria lightens. BACK

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WWe close our program with a wonderful chaconne by Marin Marais, a French composer and viola da gamba virtuoso, who flourished roughly a generation before Handel. As conceived by the great French composers of the Baroque — Lully, Marais, and Rameau, among others — a chaconne is a truly delightful thing to play and to hear. Like a passacaglia, it consists of a short repeating bass line, with many variations played by the upper voices.

Here, as in the Handel passacaglia heard earlier, the bass line is not entirely strict, but is varied harmonically and rhythmically throughout the piece. The great appeal of a chaconne is its infectious rhythmic swing; its easygoing pace and lively variations above the bass line make for a most satisfying pairing of relaxation and stimulation. BACK

 

Notes by Elizabeth Blumenstock

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