J.S. Bach: The Magnificat

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Date/Time
Saturday, December 17, 2016
8:00 pm

Location
Christ Church Cathedral

Category(ies)

Northwest Baroque MASTERWORKS PROJECT

Doors open at 6:45 pm. Pre-concert talk at 7:10 pm.

Alexander Weimann, music director

Molly Quinn, Danielle Sampson, Meg Bragle,
Aaron Sheehan, Jesse Blumberg VANCOUVER/USA

Five internationally renowned soloists, and a Baroque orchestra with three trumpets and timpani perform the Magnificat written for Christmas Vespers in 1723, Telemann’s Concerto for Three Trumpets in D major, TWV 54 and Bach’s beloved Cantata 140, Wachet auf.

The result was nothing less than splendid, one of the best musical treats of the holiday season. THE VANCOUVER SUN

Visit the website of
Alexander Weimann

Listen to Meg Bragle
Listen to Aaron Sheehan

The Northwest Baroque Masterworks Project, an initiative of EMSI and Early Music Vancouver, is a series of major works performed at various venues in the Pacific Northwest. Supported by Christ Church Cathedral.

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Programme

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)

Magnificat in D Major with Carol Insertions BWV 243

Magnificat anima mea (sopranos 1 & 2, alto, tenor, bass, chorus)

Ex exultavit spiritus meus (soprano 2)

Von Himmel hoch (soprano, alto, tenor, bass)

Quia respexit humilitatem (soprano 1)

Omnes generationes (sopranos 1 & 2, alto, tenor, bass, chorus)

Quia fecit mihi magna (bass)

Freut euch und jubiliert (sopranos 1 & 2, alto, tenor)

Et misericordia (alto and tenor)

Fecit potentiam (sopranos 1 & 2, alto, tenor, bass, chorus)

Gloria in excelsis Deo (ssopranos 1 & 2, alto, tenor, bass, chorus)

Deposuit potentes (tenor)

Esurientes (alto)

Virga Jesse floruit (soprano, bass)

Suscepit Israel (sopranos 1 & 2, alto)

Sicut locutus est (sopranos 1 & 2, alto, tenor, bass, chorus)

Gloria Patri (sopranos 1 & 2, alto, tenor, bass, chorus)

INTERVAL

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 – 1767)

Concerto for 3 trumpets, 2 oboes & timpani in D major TWV 54:D3

1. lntrada
2. Allegro
3. Largo
4. Vivace

Johann Sebastian Bach

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme BWV 140

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (soprano, alto, tenor, bass, chorus)

Er kommt (tenor recitative)

Wann kommst du, mein Heil (soprano and bass Duet: Dialogue – Soul and Jesus)

Zion hört die Wächter singen (tenor, chorus)

So geh herein zu mir (bass recitative)

Mein Freund ist mein! (soprano and bass Duet: Dialogue – Soul and Jesus)

Gloria sei dir gesungen (soprano, alto, tenor, bass, chorus)

Programme Notes

Upon the death of Johann Kuhnau on June 5th 1722, a vacancy opened for the position of music director at the churches of St. Thomas and St. Nicolas in Leipzig. Two of the five applicants for that post composed the music for the present program: Georg Philipp Telemann and Johann Sebastian Bach. Given the immense legacy left by Bach, it may come as a surprise that he was not the first choice for the Leipzig cantorship. The town council selected Telemann first, but Telemann used his application to leverage a salary increase from his current employer and withdrew. Of the remaining candidates, Bach alone managed both to prove his suitability and, almost more importantly, to receive a gracious discharge from his current employer (Prince Leopold of

Anhalt-Cöthen).

Bach’s duties at Leipzig included supplying a fresh cantata for each Sunday as well as providing additional liturgical music for special occasions. On Christmas Day, 1723, Bach led the music at three church services; for the Vespers service at St. Nicolas, Bach crafted his largest vocal work to date, the Magnificat, BWV 243a in E-flat major. This Bach would later revise as the better-known version in D major, BWV 243.

The Magnificat text (Luke 1:45-55) is strongly associated with Vespers services in the Catholic Church, an association that survived Martin Luther’s liturgical reforms. At the Leipzig Vespers, the text was usually recited simply using a formula known as the tonus peregrinus, often in German translation. Only major feasts warranted such an extensive setting as Bach’s though he makes a nod to usual practice by quoting the peregrinus tune in the trumpet in the movement
“Suscepit Israel.”

BWV 243a makes its association with Christmas clear by the inclusion of four interpolated texts important to the local liturgy in Leipzig. Bach wove in this motley collection of texts—“Vom Himmel Hoch”, “Freut euch und jubiliert”, “Gloria in excelsis”, and “Virga Jesse”—likely because of a precedent set by his predecessor Kuhnau to deploy them in works for Christmas Day. One will note the much lighter use of instrumental resources for these movements, separating them dramatically from the Magnificat text proper.

Bach eliminated these Christmas texts in the revised version of 1733, as the work was likely performed in July. Further, he transposed the piece down to D major, the standard trumpet key, replaced the oboes in some spots with oboes d’amore (a mezzo soprano oboe), and substituted flutes for the original recorder parts. Director Alexander Weimann has opted in this program to perform a hybrid version of the work, choosing to use the revised Magnificat (BWV 243) but reinstalling the Christmas texts that Bach removed. The reasons for this are both practical and aesthetic: D major sounds much more resonant on string instruments than E-flat, which is also a highly unusual key for the trumpets. It may be that the trumpets for the 1723 version were pitched in D but to a higher absolute pitch than the other instruments (pitch was not then standardized as now). Thus, the reason for the original key of E-flat may have been to accommodate those particular trumpets. Further, the timbre of the flutes in the movement “Esurientes” is arguably more appealing than that of the original recorders, as is the much more voluptuous sound of the oboe d’amore than the standard oboe in “Quia respexit.”

Bach’s most concentrated period of cantata composition occurred in the first three years of his cantorship at Leipzig (1723-26) as afterward he had a recyclable corpus of works and did not need to supply many new ones. It was for the rare occurrence of a 27th Sunday after Trinity in 1731 that Bach wrote Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (BWV 140). (Easter fell very early that year.) This work, as in the case of many Bach cantatas, takes both the tune and the text of an existing Lutheran chorale as its basis. The seven movements correspond to the seven stanzas of a hymn by Philipp Nicolai (fl. 1599). To represent the symmetry of the cross, Bach presents the hymn text verbatim and quotes the original tune in movements 1, 4, and 7.

The first movement is a chorale fantasia: the soprano voice sings the tune in long tones throughout (in a cantus firmus, or fixed voice), around which Bach composed the fabric of the music. The text describes a metaphorical wedding between Christ and the souls of the faithful, whom the night watchman of Jerusalem calls to wake. The march-like rhythm that begins the piece references the approach of the noble Jesus. After a few bars, the oboe and the violins begin to “chase” each other with a rhythm that anticipates each beat, building the listener’s sense of expectation and fostering a sort of breathless excitement. This gives way to a wash of running scales representing the excited inhabitants of Jerusalem rushing forth at the watchman’s call. These rhythmic features permeate the movement, creating a sense of blissful anticipation throughout.

The intervening movements 2, 3, 5, and 6 all draw upon the ingredients of Italian opera–recitative and the da capo aria. An unknown author has paraphrased Nicolai’s texts here to accommodate the poetic demands of these genres. The arias, movements 3 and 6, are both love duets for the soul and for Jesus. The first of these shows their courtship, and the unusual violino piccolo – a small violin tuned a third higher than normal – provides the accompaniment. Since the violino piccolo part does not ascend beyond Bach’s usual violin range, its use here may be more symbolic than practical: it may suggest an outdoor serenade, given the portability of the instrument. The second aria provides a confirmation of the union of the soul with Christ. The recitatives act as introductions to each aria. In the case of the second of these, movement 5, the speaker is actually Jesus, who is framed by a “halo” of strings to differentiate him from the narrative voice heard in movement 2.

Telemann, before relocating to Hamburg and applying for the cantorship at Leipzig, worked in Frankfurt (1712-1721). It was during this period in 1716 that he composed the Concerto for Three Trumpets (TWV 54:D3) as the overture to a celebratory serenata. The opening intrada suggests French influence with its heavily dotted rhythms, reminiscent of the style of a French ouverture. Telemann once commented that his concertos “reek of France”, though as this example shows, he tailored many different fashions to cultivate a highly individualized style. The work’s four-movement format (slow-fast-slow-fast) recalls the church sonatas and concerti grossi of Arcangelo Corelli, as does the fugal opening to the second movement. The valveless trumpet of this period required special considerations as a melodic instrument, as it could play only the tones of the natural harmonic series in a single key. Only by playing very high can one execute a scale. The instrument is thus taxing to play, and consequently, the strings and oboes in this work take much of its substance. The lovely third movement stars the oboe as the soloist, both to give the brass a little respite and to allow for the use of a contrasting key as is customary for central slow movements in concertos.

Justin Henderlight

The Artists

The Pacific Baroque Orchestra

The Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO) is recognized as one of Canada’s most exciting and innovative ensembles performing “early music for modern ears.” PBO brings the music of the past up to date by performing with cutting edge style and enthusiasm. Formed in 1990, the orchestra quickly established itself as a force in Vancouver’s burgeoning music scene with the ongoing support of Early Music Vancouver.

In 2009 PBO welcomed Alexander Weimann (one of the most sought-after of ensemble directors/soloists/chamber music partners of his generation) as Artistic Director. Weimann’s imaginative programming and expert leadership have drawn in many new concertgoers. His creativity and engaging musicianship have carved out a unique and vital place in the cultural landscape of Vancouver.

The Orchestra has also toured B.C., the northern United States and across Canada as far as the East Coast. The musicians of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra have been at the core of many large-scale productions by EMSI in recent years, including the Northwest Baroque Masterworks Project.

Alexander Weimann

After traveling the world with ensembles like Tragicomedia, Cantus Cölln, the Freiburger Barockorchester, the Gesualdo Consort and Tafelmusik, Weimann now focuses on his activities as music director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Vancouver and the Seattle Baroque Orchestra.

Recently, he has conducted the Montreal-based baroque orchestra Ensemble Arion, Les Violons du Roy, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra; both the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra have regularly featured him as a soloist. In recent years, he has also conducted the Victoria Symphony and Symphony Nova Scotia, most recently with Handel’s Messiah.

Alexander Weimann can be heard on some 100 CDs. He made his North American recording debut with the ensemble Tragicomedia on the CD Capritio (Harmonia Mundi USA), and won worldwide acclaim from both the public and critics for his 2001 release of Handel’s Gloria (ATMA Classique). Volume 1 of his recordings of the complete keyboard works by Alessandro Scarlatti appeared in May 2005. Critics around the world unanimously praised it, and in the following year it was nominated for an Opus Prize as the best Canadian early music recording. He released an Opus Award-winning CD of Handel oratorio arias with superstar soprano Karina Gauvin and his Montreal-based ensemble Tempo Rubato, a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion, and various albums with Les Voix Baroques of Buxtehude, Carissimi and Purcell, all with rave reviews. His latest album with Karina Gauvin and Arion Baroque Orchestra (Prima Donna) won a Juno Award in 2013, and a complete recording of Handel’s Orlando was released in the fall of 2013, with an exciting group of international star soloists and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra performing.

Alexander Weimann was born in 1965 in Munich, where he studied the organ, church music, musicology (with a summa cum laude thesis on Bach’s secco recitatives), theatre, medieval Latin, and jazz piano, supported by a variety of federal scholarships for the highly talented. In addition to his studies, he has attended numerous master classes in harpsichord and historical performance. To ground himself further in the roots of western music, he became intensely involved over the course of several years with Gregorian chant. Alexander Weimann has moved to the Vancouver area with his wife, three children and pets, and tries to spend as much time as possible in his garden and kitchen.

Molly Quinn

Molly Quinn has captivated audiences with her “radiant” soprano, possessing an “arresting sweetness and simplicity” (NY Times) in diverse repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to the Rolling Stones. Ms. Quinn opened her 2013/14 season as one of four Virginia Best Adams Fellows at the Carmel Bach Festival, highlighting her penchant for 17th and 18th century music in performances of Bach, Buxtehude, Handel and Purcell.

She continued with performances as the soprano soloist in the world premiere completion of Mozart’s Requiem by composer Gregory Spears with Miami’s GRAMMY® nominated Seraphic Fire, Handel’s Messiah at Alice Tully Hall with Trinity Choir and Baroque Orchestra and In Dulci Jubilo, a collaboration between TENET, Bach Collegium San Diego and Dark Horse Consort in the music of Michael Praetorius in both New York and San Diego. As a member of New York’s TENET, Ms. Quinn has been a long-time collaborator of artistic director Jolle Greenleaf. She has been featured in several projects, including the Green Mountain Project, the TENEbrae series and their duo program Uno + One: Italia Nostra, recorded and released this fall by Avie Records to critical acclaim and dubbed as an “Album of the Week” by WQXR.

Since 2006, Molly has been a member of the renowned Trinity Wall Street Choir, performing regularly at services, the Bach at One series, concert programs, recordings, and tours. She is a featured soloist on their 2013 GRAMMY® nominated recording of Handel’s Israel in Egypt with conductor Julian Wachner on the Musica Omnia label, has appeared with them in London, Moscow, Paris, and Sonoma, and joined soprano colleagues in singing back up for rock legends The Rolling Stones at The Barclays Center. In recent seasons, Ms. Quinn has appeared regularly with notable early music ensembles and festivals including Clarion Music Society, The New York Early Music Festival, Antioch Chamber Ensemble, Connecticut Early Music Festival, Ecstatic Music Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, Quicksilver, and Seraphic Fire. As a proud native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Molly is drawn to the root music of Appalachia and Ireland and has performed in the cross-over programs Come to the River with Apollo’s Fire and The Music of Dublin with The Folger Consort.

Upcoming performances include Arvo Pärt’s Passio with TENET at Carnegie Hall as part of the collected stories series curated by composer David Lang, Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 with Cambridge Concentus and conductor Joshua Rifkin, as well as on tour in the U.S. with Apollo’s Fire and conductor Jeannette Sorrell, and a return home to Chapel Hill, NC for both Mozart’s Regina Coeli at the University of North Carolina in the newly restored Memorial Hall and a program of French cantatas for the newly launched HIP [Historically Informed Performance] Festival. Ms. Quinn holds both a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in Vocal Performance from University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music and currently resides in New York City.

Danielle Sampson

Danielle Sampson (formerly Danielle Reutter-Harrah) is a versatile performer with a particular enthusiasm for historically informed performance practice. She has been lauded for her “lovely” solo (San Francisco Classical Voice) in her recent debut as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus in Mason Bates’ Mass Transmission. She appears frequently with the American Bach Soloists, most recently singing with “beauty and passion” (San Francisco Classical Voice) in a rarely performed early version of Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

While she frequently interprets Handel, Bach, and Purcell, her repertoire also includes Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky, Britten, and Corigliano. She has appeared with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, the San Francisco Bach Choir, the San Jose Opera, and the American Bach Soloists, among others. Her stage roles include Dido (Dido and Aeneas), Giannetta (L’Elisir d’Amore), Ruggiero (Alcina), and Maggie (Gift of the Magi). She has performed under numerous directors, among them Helmut Rilling, Marin Alsop, Catherine Sailer, Timothy Krueger, Tan Dun, Michael Tilson Thomas, Jeffrey Thomas, Ragnar Bohlin and George Cleve.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Danielle earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, and a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has been a professional member of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus since 2011 and is a founding member of the Bay Area’s Liaison, an early music ensemble which features chamber music from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Meg Bragle

Widely praised for her musical intelligence and “expressive virtuosity” (San Francisco Chronicle), Meg Bragle is quickly earning an international reputation as one of today’s most gifted mezzo-sopranos.

A frequent featured soloist with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists, she has made four recordings with the group, including Bach’s Easter and Ascension Oratorios – the vehicle for her BBC Proms debut − and the October 2015 release of Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

Ms. Bragle has performed with the Houston, Indianapolis, Pacific, and Colorado Symphonies, National Arts Center Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Les Violons du Roy, and Apollo’s Fire.

Highlights of her 2016/17 season include appearances with Milwaukee Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, American Bach, and Early Music Vancouver. Bragle also performs this season at the Winter Park and Carmel Bach Festivals, with St. Thomas Church Choir of Men and Boys in New York, University Musical Society, Voices of Music, and Catacoustic Consort.

Opera roles from recent seasons include the title role in Handel’s Susannah, Dido and the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Dardano in Handel’s Amadigi, Amastre in Handel’s Serse, Speranza in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Ippolita in Cavalli’s Elena, and Elpina in Vivaldi’s La Fida Ninfa.

In addition to her recordings with the English Baroque Soloists, Ms. Bragle has made several with Apollo’s Fire: Mozart’s Requiem (Koch), Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine (Avie), L’Orfeo(Eclectra), and Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne (Avie).

Aaron Sheehan

A first rate interpreter of the works of Bach, Handel and Mozart, Aaron Sheehan sang the title role in Boston Early Music Festival’s (BEMF’s) Grammy Award-winning recording of Charpentier’s La déscente d’Orphée aux enfers.

He made his professional operatic début with BEMF where his roles have included L’Amour and Apollon in Psyché, Actéon in Actéon, Orfeo in Orfeo, Eurimaco in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Acis in Acis and Galatea and Liberto/Soldato in L’incoronazione di Poppea. With Boston Baroque he sang Telemaco in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria.

He has performed in concert at Tanglewood, the Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington National Cathedral, the Early Music Festivals of San Francisco, Vancouver, Washington DC, Carmel and Regensburg, and with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Handel and Haydn Society, Tafelmusik, North Carolina Symphony, New York Collegium, Charlotte Symphony, and Pacific Music Works.

Recent engagements include Orfeo in Le Carnaval de Venise (BEMF), Messiah with Portland Baroque Orchestra, Bach’s Mass in B minor (Calgary Philharmonic and Boston Baroque), Alexander’s Feast (American Bach Soloists), Gluck’s Orphée (title role – Pacific Music Works), and performances of Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Easter Oratorio, Monteverdi’s Vespers, Rameau’s Cantatas and Charpentier’s La Fête de Ruel.

Forthcoming performances include Apollon and Trajan in Le Temple de la Gloire (Rameau – Philharmonia Baroque), Orfeo in Le Carnaval de Venise (Campra – BEMF), Eumete in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Opera Atelier), Mozart’s Requiem (Mercury Houston), and further performances of Messiah, St John Passion and Mass in B Minor.

His many recordings for BEMF include the Grammy nominated operas Thésée and Psyché, Agostino in Steffani’s Niobe, and also Acis in Acis and Galatea.

Jesse Blumberg

Baritone Jesse Blumberg enjoys a busy schedule of opera, concerts, and recitals, performing repertoire from the Renaissance and Baroque to the 20th and 21st centuries.  His performances have included the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath at Minnesota Opera, Bernstein’s MASS at London’s Royal Festival Hall, various productions with Boston Early Music Festival, and featured roles with Atlanta Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Utah Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera.  Recital highlights include appearances with the Marilyn Horne Foundation, New York Festival of Song, and Mirror Visions Ensemble.  He has performed major concert works with American Bach Soloists, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Boston Baroque, Oratorio Society of New York, Apollo’s Fire, and on Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. His current season includes debuts at Arion Baroque, Early Music Vancouver, and Opera Atelier, guest appearances with the baroque string band ACRONYM, and leading roles at the 2017 Boston Early Music Festival.

Jesse has been featured on a dozen commercial recordings, including the 2015 Grammy-winning Charpentier Chamber Operas with Boston Early Music Festival.  He has been recognized in several competitions, and was awarded Third Prize at the 2008 International Robert Schumann Competition in Zwickau, becoming its first American prizewinner in over thirty years.  Jesse holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and is also the founder of Five Boroughs Music Festival in New York City.
www.jesseblumberg.com


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