Sunday December 18, 2016 | 3:00pm (Pre-concert talk 2:15pm)
Chan Shun Concert Hall at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts | Map
A Northwest Baroque Masterworks Project in collaboration with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra
Molly Quinn (soprano 1)
Danielle Sampson (soprano 2)
Meg Bragle (alto)
Aaron Sheehan (tenor)
Jesse Blumberg (baritone)
Alexander Weimann leads five internationally renowned soloists, a full baroque orchestra, 3 trumpets, and timpani in a performance of J.S. Bach’s Magnificat. Written for Christmas Vespers in 1723, this version includes four rarely heard and delightful inserts that illuminate the Nativity story. Join us for a fascinating new slant on a familiar masterpiece. The programme also includes Telemann’s concerto for three trumpets in D major (TWV 54) and Bach’s beloved Cantata 140 (Wachet auf).
“an engaging blend of scholarship with honest sentiment plus all the bells and whistles that the early Baroque could muster in service of religious music. The result was nothing less than splendid, one of the best musical treats of the holiday season.” – The Vancouver Sun (December 2015)
Supported by Vic & Joan Baker
Johann Sebastian Bach
Magnificat in D Major with Carol Insertions BWV 243
Magnificat anima mea, SSATB chorus
Ex exultavit spiritus meus, Soprano 2 solo
Von Himmel Hoch SATB
Quia respexit humilitatem Soprano 1 solo
Omnes Generationes SSATB chorus
Quia fecit mihi magna Bass solo
Freut euch jubilieret SSAT
Et misericordia Alto and Tenor duet
Fecit potentiam SSATB chorus
Gloria in excelsis Deo SSATB chorus
Deposuit potentes Tenor solo
Esurientes Alto solo
Virga Jesse Floruit SB
Suscepit Israel SSA trio
Sicut locutus est SSATB chorus
Gloria Patri SSATB chorus
Georg Philipp Telemann
Concerto for 3 trumpets, 2 oboes & timpani in D major TWV 54:D3
Johann Sebastian Bach
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme – BWV 140
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme – SATB chorus
Er kommt – Tenor Recitative
Wann kommst du, mein Heil – Soprano and Bass Duet (Dialogue – Soul and Jesus)
Zion hört die Wächter singen – Tenor Chorale
So geh herein zu mir – Bass Recitative
Mein Freund ist mein! – Soprano and Bass Duet (Dialogue-Soul and Jesus)
Gloria sei dir gesungen – SATB Chorale
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 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 only play 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
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 as Artistic Director. His imaginative programming and expert leadership have drawn in many new concertgoers, and his creativity and engaging musicianship have carved out a unique and vital place in the cultural landscape of Vancouver.
PBO regularly joins forces with internationally celebrated Canadian guest artists, providing performance opportunities for Canadian musicians while exposing West Coast audiences to a spectacular variety of talent. The Orchestra has also toured BC, 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 Early Music Vancouver in recent years, including many Vancouver Bach Festival performances led by Alexander Weimann.
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After traveling the world with ensembles like Tragicomedia, and as frequent guest with Cantus Cölln, the Freiburger Barockorchester, Gesualdo Consort and Tafelmusik, he now focuses on his activities as conductor of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Vancouver, music director of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra and regular guest conductor of ensembles including the Victoria Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Arion Baroque Orchestra in Montreal and the Portland Baroque Orchestra.
Weimann was born in 1965 in Munich, where he studied the organ, church music, musicology (with a summa con laude thesis on Bach’s secco recitatives), theatre, mediæval Latin, and jazz piano, supported by a variety of federal scholarships. From 1990 to 1995, Weimann taught music theory, improvisation, and Jazz at the Munich Musikhochschule. Since 1998, he has been giving master classes in harpsichord and historical performance practice at institutions such as Lunds University in Malmö and the Bremen Musikhochschule, and at North American universities such as The University of California in Berkeley, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, McGill University, Université de Montréal, and Mount Allison in New Brunswick. Since 2007, he has conducted several acclaimed opera productions at the Amherst Early Music Festival. He now teaches at the University of British Columbia and directs the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme there.
A multiple Juno and Grammy nominee, Weimann can be heard on some 100 CDs. Recent highlights include an Opus and Juno award winning CD of Handel oratorio arias with soprano Karina Gauvin, a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion with Les Voix Baroques/Arion Baroque Orchestra, and a Juno nominated recording of Handel’s Orlando with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra that was also awarded a Gramophone Editor’s Choice award.
Praised by The New York Times for her “radiant sweetness” Molly Quinn has appeared as a soloist with many classical and early music ensembles including Apollo’s Fire, The Portland Baroque Orchestra, The Knights NYC, The Bang on a Can All-Stars, The Clarion Music Society, The Carmel Bach Festival, Catacoustic Consort, The Staunton Music Festival, and Trinity Baroque Orchestra.
Ms Quinn is a frequent performer with New York’s early music ensemble TENET, and is featured throughout their discography. Molly has been a frequent collaborator with Music at Trinity Wall Street. She is a featured soloist on their 2013 GRAMMY®-nominated recording of Handel’s Israel in Egypt (Musica Omnia, 2012).
Ms Quinn has also garnered acclaim for her work crossing genres in classical, folk, and contemporary music. Molly was dubbed “pure radiance” by the Los Angeles Times for her work with The Bang on a Can All-Stars in Steel Hammer.
Look for her this season with TENET at Carnegie Hall, on tour with Early Music Vancouver and as she makes her Kennedy Center debut with The Folger Consort in Dido and Aeneas. www.mollyquinn.com
Danielle Sampson is delighted to return to Vancouver after having sung in the Festive Cantatas: A Monteverdi Christmas Vespers concerts last December. She has performed with Boston Early Music Festival, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Opera, American Bach Soloists, California Bach Society, Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, SF SoundBox, and Alabama Symphony among others. Recently she was seen in Handel’s Messiah and Judas Maccabeus with Portland Chamber Orchestra, a concert of baroque women composers with Pacific MusicWorks, and local composer Neil Welch’s ensemble piece “Concepción Picciotto” for the Earshot Jazz Festival. She performed in Boston Early Music Festival’s Monteverdi Trilogy in 2015 as Melanto in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and as Virtu and Pallade in l’incoronazione di Poppea. Her upcoming season includes the Messaggera in Monteverdi’s Orfeo with Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, Handel’s Samson with Pacific MusicWorks, a concert of Hildegard von Bingen, and Brahm’s Requiem with Sonoma Bach.
Danielle is a founding member of the voice/plucked strings duo Jarring Sounds (with Adam Cockerham on guitar, theorbo, baroque guitar, and lute). She sings frequently with Seattle’s Byrd Ensemble and Pacific MusicWorks and teaches voice and piano privately. Danielle received her BM from the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music and her MM from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband and son.
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 Symphon, 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).
Visit Meg Bragle at www.megbragle.com.
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 Psyché, Actéon Actéon, Orfeo Orfeo, Eurimaco Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Acis Acis and Galatea and Liberto/Soldato L’incoronazione di Poppea. With Boston Baroque he sang Telemaco 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 Le Carnaval de Venise (BEMF), Messiah with Portland Baroque Orchestra, Bach 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 Messiah, Bach Easter Oratorio, Monteverdi Vespers, Rameau Cantatas and Charpentier’s La Fête de Ruel.
Forthcoming performances include Apollon and Trajan Le Temple de la Gloire (Rameau – Philharmonia Baroque), Orfeo Le Carnaval de Venise (Campra – BEMF), Eumete Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Opera Atelier), Mozart 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 Acis and Galatea.
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