Rogers & Hart, Gilbert & Sullivan, Abbot & Costello, Batman & Robin… History is full of great partnerships and 18th century England was no exception. Join Paul Luchkow and Michael Jarvis as they explore the music of Handel and his favourite pupil and personal secretary, John Christopher Smith, as well as music by the famous Bach-Abel partnership, which resulted in the fashionable London subscription concert series. Dedicated to the memory of Michael Jarvis, who passed away on December 25, 2020.
This concert is generously supported by Helen and Frank Elfert.
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Concert will remain online for one year from premiere date
John Cristian Bach [1735-1782]
Sonata for Keyboard and Violin in D major
Op. 16, no. 1
Allegro assai – Andante grazioso
John Christopher Smith [1712-1795]
Largo & Air variée avec 3 Doubles
from Op. 2, no. 5 (fortepiano solo)
Carl Friedrich Abel [1723-1787]
Sonata for violin and continuo in D major
Op. 9, no. 2
Allegro moderato – Adagio – Vivace
George Frideric Handel [1685-1759]
Sonata for violin and continuo in D major
Affettuoso – Allegro – Larghetto – Allegro
John Stanley [1712-1786]
Allegro (from Solo VI, Op. 4)
A=430; Thomas Young’s first temperament, pub. 1799
John Christian Bach [1735-1782] eclipsed by the achievements of Mozart, Haydn and other late Classical composers, and all but forgotten in the 19th-century, Bach was one of the most respected musicians of his time. After his father, Johann Sebastian’s death he moved in with his half brother CPE Bach who was 21 years his senior. After living in Italy where he studied with Martini and was Organist of Milan Cathedral, Bach followed his friend Abel to London in 1762 to premiere three operas at the King’s Theatre. Now known as John Bach or “the London Bach”, he established his reputation in the City as one of the most fashionable composers and was appointed music-master to Queen Charlotte. He began a life-long friendship with the young Mozart when Mozart and his father visited London. Mozart, who by many accounts could be prickly towards other musicians always spoke of Bach in the very highest terms. The Sonata in D major is from Bach’s Op. 16, published around 1780 by Hummel in Amsterdam and dedicated to Queen Charlotte. It was also published in London by Welcker and dedicated to Bach’s pupil Emma Jane Greenland [1760-1838], a painter, writer, and singer.
Carl Friedrich Abel [1723-1787] was born in Köthen where his father, Christian Ferdinand Abel, was the principal gamba and cello player in the court orchestra. In 1723 Abel senior became director of the orchestra when the previous director, Johann Sebastian Bach, moved to Leipzig. The young Abel later boarded at St. Thomas School, Leipzig, where he was taught by Bach and possibly met the young JC Bach. On Bach’s recommendation in 1743 he joined Johann Adolph Hasse’s court orchestra at Dresden where he remained for fifteen years. In 1759 Abel went to England and in 1764 became chamber-musician to Queen Charlotte. In 1765, he and Bach established the famous Bach-Abel subscription concerts. Abel composed symphonies, overtures, and chamber music, and was in great demand as a player on the viola da gamba. The Sonata in D major comes from a little-known collection of six violin sonatas, published in Amsterdam around 1773 by Hummel as Op. 9. Abel had a different set of pieces, trios sonatas, published as his Op. 9 in England.
John Christopher Smith [1712-1795] was the son of Johann Christoph Schmidt, Handel’s first copyist. Smith Jr. studied with Handel, Pepusch and Roseingrave; in fact, many of his keyboard pieces seem to be inspired by Handel’s keyboard works. The Largo and Air with variations is taken from his Cinquième Suite, from Op. 2, published in London by Walsh around 1737. He succeeded his father, becoming Handel’s secretary and amanuensis, when blindness prevented Handel from composing and conducting. Smith wrote five books of keyboard suites, as well as operas and oratorios (as well as pasticcio oratorios based on Handel’s music), and some chamber music; his oratorio, Paradise Lost, performed on 29 February 1760, was his greatest success.
Very little needs to be said about George Frideric Handel [1685-1759]. The Sonata in D major, HWV 371 was composed c.1750. It was Handel’s last piece of chamber music.
John Stanley [1712-1786] Though virtually blind, Stanley had a prodigious memory which helped him conduct many of his friend Handel’s oratorios. A brilliant organist and violinist, Stanley composed operas, oratorios, and all types of instrumental music. After Handel’s death he went into partnership with John Christopher Smith, continuing the presentation of Handel’s oratorios at Covent Garden. Following Handel, Stanley was elected a governor of the Foundling Hospital in 1770, and from 1775 until 1777 he directed the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah in aid of the hospital funds.
Paul Luchkow & Michael Jarvis Duo
Paul Luchkow is a versatile violinist and violist whose activities cover the range of music from the 17th Century to the present day, on modern and period instruments. A regular feature of Western Canada’s Early Music scene, Paul is a long-time member of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and appears frequently in concerts for Early Music Vancouver. On Vancouver Island, he performs regularly with Victoria Baroque Players, Victoria Symphony, the Early Music Society of the Islands, as well as at Victoria's Pacific Baroque Festival. A highlight of recent years has been his work with fortepianist Michael Jarvis and their exploration of Classical and Romantic sonata repertoire on period instruments. Their latest recording - Trios for violin, viola da gamba, and fortepiano, op. 30 by Tommaso Giordani with the British gambist, Sam Stadlen, was released on the Marquis Classics label in the Fall of 2019 to rave reviews.
Michael Jarvis is one of Canada's finest harpsichordists, fortepianists and continuo players, and is in demand as a collaborative artist and coach. He has performed throughout Canada and internationally, and may be heard on many CDs; his recording of Hummel’s op. 5 violin sonatas (with Paul Luchkow, violin) was chosen as a finalist as best classical album of the year in the Western Canadian Music Awards. His upcoming CD “Fashionably Late” with Paul Luchkow, violin, and Sam Stadlen, gamba, explores rarely-heard chamber music from late 18th-century England. He is Director of Music at St. Barnabas Church in Victoria and the Bach on the Rock Chamber Choir and Orchestra on Salt Spring Island. When he is not playing early music, Michael is an avid collector of early jazz and early opera 78 rpm recordings and is an early phonograph restorer.