Wednesday March 10, 2021 | 7:30PM
A collaboration between Early Music Vancouver, the UBC School of Music, and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme gives student and community players the chance to play side by side with experts in historically informed performance. This unique mentorship initiative is designed to foster the next generation of early music performers. Members of the Baroque Mentorship Orchestra reconvened at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in July, 2020, to record this varied programme of German and Italian instrumental music. Smaller chamber ensembles and the full baroque string orchestra play the music of Arcangelo Corelli, J.G. Janitsch, and J.B. Bach, one of J.S. Bach’s talented cousins.
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Sonata op. 5 no. 5 in g minor
Johann Gottlieb Janitsch (1708-c. 1763)
Sonata da camera op. 1 no. 2 in G major
Johann Bernhard Bach (1676-1749)
Overture no. 1 in g minor
The members of the Baroque Mentorship Orchestra are delighted to be able to offer you this programme, which spans over a half-century of instrumental music from Italy and Germany.
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) was in some ways the revelation of Europe’s musical world around the turn of the eighteenth century; despite his relatively small output, he changed the way music would be written and instruments (particularly the violin) would be played for decades after his death.
Corelli spent his career as an influential teacher and composer in the vibrant cities of Bologna and Rome, but made his name internationally as one of the first music printing sensations. Corelli’s trio sonatas, solo sonatas, and concerti were reprinted countless times, and inspired innumerable imitators across the continent.
The violin sonatas of Corelli’s op. 5, first published in 1700, were the most popular of all—they were reissued a whopping 42 times (at least) over the next century. Corelli once mentioned in a letter that the main goal of his compositions was to “show off” the violin, and this he certainly does—but with unique lyricism, balance, and clarity that enraptured his contemporaries and successors.
Johann Gottlieb Janitsch (1708-c. 1763), about two generations later, worked in one of the most flourishing cultural centers of his day: the Prussian court in Berlin. Originally from further east in Silesia (modern-day Poland), Janitsch, like C.P.E. Bach a few years later, studied jurisprudence at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder (1729-1733), but he too found music his true calling. Janitsch impressed powerful patrons with his performances, and in 1736 he was called to the personal orchestra of Crown Prince Frederick (later Frederick the Great) of Prussia. When Frederick acceded to the throne, Janitsch followed him to Berlin and continued as a “contraviolinist” in his orchestra.
In Berlin, Janitsch worked alongside leading musicians such as C.P.E. Bach and J.J. Quantz. A respected and sought-after composer, Janitsch also arranged a series of “Friday Academies,” weekly concerts open to professional and amateur music enthusiasts. These popular concerts inspired similar events elsewhere in the German-speaking world.
Janitsch’s surviving work is composed mainly of chamber music that may have been played at those Friday gatherings in his Berlin home. His Sonata da camera op. 1 no. 2 in G major was published with two other sonatas in 1760. Janitsch was justly famed for such quartets, in which he brought imaginative combinations of three melody instruments together over a basso continuo. These pieces embrace the later eighteenth century’s style galant, joining an elegant, sometimes ornate, sense of melody with a spirit of animated dialogue between flute, violin, and viola.
Johann Bernhard Bach (1676-1749) was a slightly older second cousin of the famous Johann Sebastian, and like him an accomplished musician. After all, to be a Bach in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Thuringia was to be a musician. Bearers of the name were born into a large and thriving clan of organists, fiddlers, town musicians, and music directors. They learned their craft much as others might inherit the family secrets of carpentry or goldsmithing—immersed from a young age and trained by skilled relatives, many Bachs played several instruments and occupied important musical positions in their communities.
Johann Bernhard’s branch of the family was based in the city of Erfurt, where he was born and received his musical education at the hands of his father, Johann Aegidius, and possibly also of the revered organist Johann Pachelbel. Johann Bernhard took an organist’s post in his hometown and later in Madgebourg, finally settling as a church organist and court harpsichordist in Eisenach, the town of Johann Sebastian’s birth.
A successful career awaited Johann Bernhard in Eisenach, where he must have rubbed shoulders with Georg Phillip Telemann, the most celebrated composer of the day, who directed the court Kappelle from 1708 to 1712.
Only a handful of Johann Bernhard’s works, all instrumental, survive today. Of these, his four overture-suites are the most impressive. Johann Sebastian evidently valued them highly; he had copies of them made for performance by his own collegium musicum later in his career in Leipzig.
J.B. Bach’s Ouverture no. 1 in g minor bears resemblances to his cousin’s orchestral suites and to those of Telemann. An imposing overture—two slow-moving passages with dramatic dissonances and dotted rhythms in the French style encasing a quick and fiery central section—leads into a series of dance movements, by turns plaintive, poised, and energetic. As well as the usual French dances, J.B. Bach’s overture-suites include evocatively titled character movements, such as the G-minor overture’s pensive Fantaisie. Uniquely among the composer’s surviving overtures, each movement of the G-minor has a “Violino Concertato” part, giving one violin soloist a chance to soar above the four-part string orchestra.
Notes written by Connor Page
Alexander Weimann, Music Director, Harpsichord
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.
Chloe Meyers, Violin, Ensemble Mentor
Violinist Chloe Meyers is a regular guest leader and orchestra member of baroque ensembles all over North America. She has worked with ensembles including Les Violons du Roy, Tafelmusik, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Les Boréades, the Theatre of Early Music, Les Idées Heureuses and Les Voix Baroques. She recently joined the Pacific Baroque Orchestra as concertmaster and will continue to play principal second with Arion Baroque Orchestra in Montreal. Most recently she played first violin on a Juno Award winning recording of Handel arias featuring Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin on the Atma Classique label.
Natalie Mackie, Gamba, Ensemble Mentor
Natalie Mackie studied cello at the Conservatoire de Musique (Québec), followed by a degree from the UBC’s School of Music, where she was introduced to the viola da gamba.
She pursued further studies at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague. Natalie has played with many ensembles in Canada and the US, including New World Consort, Les Coucous Bénévoles, Tafelmusik, the Portland and Seattle Baroque Orchestras, Les Voix Humaines, Tempo Rubato, Les Voix Baroque, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, Victoria Baroque Players, and the Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra among others. Natalie is a member of Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the chamber ensemble La Modestine, both Vancouver-based ensembles. She has toured throughout Canada, Europe, and the US and recorded for Radio France, German Radio, BBC, CBC, and NPR, as well as the Canadian label ATMA Classique. Natalie is a regular performer in the Pacific Baroque Festival, held annually in Victoria, BC, and teaches in the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Program at the University of British Columbia.
Baroque Mentorship Orchestra
About five years ago a new and exciting educational initiative took root in Vancouver, a Baroque Mentorship Orchestra in which the seasoned professionals of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra rehearse and perform side-by-side with students and aspiring young artists from the community. The programme is made possible by the collaboration of Early Music Vancouver, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and the University of British Columbia, and thanks to the generosity of Vic and Joan Baker. The mentorship orchestra is directed by Alexander Weimann. Chloe Meyers and Natalie Mackie serve as regular mentors, aided by many other specialist coaches for strings, woodwinds, and brasses. The orchestra has offered an ambitious variety of music from the 17th and 18th centuries: highlights have included Telemann’s Don Quixote Suite, Handel’s Fireworks Music at the Chan Centre, a spicy programme of Mediterranean music entitled Fandango!, excerpts from Handel’s magnificent early opera Agrippina, and a festival of Telemann concertos and suites.