Christmas Concertos by Candlelight
November 30, December 1 & 2, 2018
Featured Guest Artist: Robin Fisher, soprano
Lisa Marie Lawson, Music Director, violin
Cathie Apple, flute
Naomi Rogers-Hefley, violin
Shannon Houston, violin
Paolo Reyes, violin
Kim LaSavio, viola
David Wells, bassoon
Michael Lawson, cello and violone
Richard Webb, cello
Faythe Vollrath, harpsichord and organ
Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709) - Concerto Grosso con una Pastorale Per il Santissimo Natale (Christmas Eve Concerto), Op. 8 no. 6
Giuseppe Torelli, a younger contemporary of Arcangelo Corelli, was an Italian violinist and violist, pedagogue and composer, who, like Corelli, was instrumental in the development of the concerto grosso and the concerto form. He served most of his career as a violinist in Bologna, but also spent several years employed in Germany as the maestro di concerto for the Margrave of Brandenburg-Anspach, and several years in Vienna. In a musical discussion hosted by Prince Ferdinando de' Medici,"It was said that the harpsichord does not complete the full expression of human sentiment. It was here that Giacomo Perti spoke, therefore, of string instruments united in a miraculous concerto, and he said that they could second the whole of the human heart." In 1692, Torelli linked the term "concerto" in his Op. 5 to the practice of using multiple string players per part. The Concerto Grosso heard tonight was written near the end of his life, and features solo violins, the "concertino," set against a ripeno of violins, viola, and bass. It is in three movements, the first in a sparkling 12/8 time. The second movement, Largo, is the Pastorale movement. The final Vivace movement rounds out the concerto in a lively 6/8.
Franz Tunder (1614-1667) - Ein Kleines Kindelein
As Franz Tunder is the earliest composer on today's program, the style of this simple aria is quite different from the other compositions you will hear. Although the accompanying strings begin the Sinfonia with a short contrapuntal slow section, in the rest of the piece they perform homophonically, moving together throughout in accompaniment to the soprano voice. Tunder's compositions were an important link between early German Baroque style, which was based on Venetian models, and later Baroque style which culminated in the music of J.S. Bach. Tunder, a North German organist and church composer, was organist at the main church in Lübeck, the Marienkirche. While he was there he founded the famous Abendmusiken of Lübeck, which took place in the season of Advent, and originated as organ performances for the businessmen who congregated at the weekly opening of the town's stock exchange. The concerts continued through the 17th and 18th centuries. They were distinguished from other concerts by having free admission, and by being financed by the business community.
Translation: “A Small Child”
A small child is born to us this day
And has brought the light back to us
That we had lost.
Sing to this child!
Dearest Jesus Child,
Let me be completely
Your very own.
Georg Philip Telemann (1681-1767) – Cantata TWV 1:694 Gott will Mensch und sterblich warden 1725-26
Georg Philipp Telemann was the most successful and prolific German composer of the late Baroque period. In his exceptionally long and active life he wrote almost every genre of music imaginable. Telemann had no formal music training but educated himself by studying scores of great masters while he studied languages and science at the University of Leipzig. While he was there, he gained great popularity as a musician, and formed the Collegium Musicum in 1702. He ended up being a professional musician, through his life accepting posts in Leipzig, in Sorau, Poland, Eisenach, Frankfurt, and finally Hamburg. He composed secular and church music, including operas, concertos, orchestral suites, sonatas, and 1043 sacred cantatas, and was one of the creators and foremost exponents of the so-called German mixed style, an amalgam of German, French, Italian and Polish styles. By 1720 he had adopted the use of the da capo aria, which you will hear in tonight's cantatas. Telemann wrote Gott will Mensch in Hamburg, a liturgical cantata written for the Annunciation as part of a one-year cycle of church cantatas for 1725-26.
Translation: Gott will Mensch und sterblich warden
From Isaiah 7: 10-15
Aria: God intends to become mortal man, so that man will not perish in his misery.
What a testament to the greatest loyalty.
Recitative: Ask if a sign can reach you, whether here on earth or in the highest heights,
That is as great as this one.
No, even if I had wings like the dawn and could fly to the outer reaches of the stormy seas, Even if I could fly up to the heavens or from there down into the deepest reaches of the abyss,
I would not find anything as awe-inspiring as this:
That the Lord God Jehovah is to become man among us.
Yes, Emanuel has taken mortal form and through his victory, has freed us from our enslavement.
The two raging tyrants that have terrorized us–Death and The Prince of Night–have been vanquished by our Lord and driven away.
Therefore, you souls so highly prized by our Lord, come forth from your caves of sorrow!
Revel in the glory of this joyful sun.
This grand miracle merits grand admiration!
Aria: Emanuel is here! Triumph and hallelujah!
Rejoice, o heavenly thrones, together with everything on earth.
We are once again drawn closer to heaven through Him.
Emanuel is here!
That which made our hearts fear has been trodden into the dust
Through Jesus, as foretold by the prophets.
Marc-Antoine Charpentier (c. 1645 - 1702) - Noëls sur lés instruments
Marc-Antoine Charpentier was born in Paris, and in his early 20s went to Rome where he studied music with Carissimi. Upon his return he became house composer to Marie de Lorraine, Duchesse of Guise, and composed music for her for seventeen years. Due to her love of Italian music, Charpentier was able to include the Italianisms he had learned in Rome. During this time, Lully had a monopoly on music in Paris, and had created regulations which limited the number of musicians available to perform Charpentier's works. Under these restrictions Charpentier wrote music for Moliere's theater for as long as he was able, but eventually was prevented this activity. After Mme de Guises' death, he had a brief stint writing for the Dauphin, but became ill and had to resign, after which he was employed by the Jesuits. Noëls sur lés instruments, written around 1690, is Charpentier's arrangements of six traditional French Christmas carols for organ and instruments, a popular form of the time.
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) - Concerto Grosso in g minor “Christmas Concerto”
Roger North spoke of Corelli’s works, “wch are to ye musitians like ye bread of life.” Corelli was the founder of a Roman school whose influence touched practically every violinist in Europe. He had widespread fame as a composer and was the teacher of Geminiani, Locatelli, Veracini, and Somis, who taught Leclair. His works were published repeatedly throughout Europe and were seen as models of style for their purity and poise. Corelli was a favorite in Roman society, where his lifelong patron was Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. His importance has sustained to the present, both as a violinist who laid a firm foundation for all future development of violin technique, and as a composer who advanced the progress of composition. He chose to publish only a few select opuses of compositions, including solo sonatas, trio sonatas, and concerti grossi, which he only allowed to be published after his death. His compositions were characterized by a conciseness and clarity of thought and form, and by a dignity of style. Corelli’s concerti grossi resemble trio sonatas with orchestral reinforcement and echo effects. In many ways the concerto grosso was the precursor of the solo concerto, as it was the opposition of a solo trio against an orchestra. The Concerto Grosso we hear tonight, written for Christmas eve, may have been composed as early as 1690. It is in church sonata form with the addition of the beautiful “Pastorale” movement.
Georg Philip Telemann - Cantata TWV 487b Erwag' o Mensch
Translation: Erwäg' o Mensch
Consider, o Man, that God gives six full days for one Sabbath day.
Many thousand blessings will come to the faithful.
Is that not enough for one to praise His holy name?
Yes! He, who knows the sweetness of true soul-felt fulfillment,
And values its origins for those who are faithful,
Who go to the House of God and hear the Holy Word as it falls upon their heart;
When faith, love, prayer, study and song bring sacrifice to the veneration of our God:
Yeah, verily! To these believers will above all others the holy Sabbath be given;
Yes, these believers will make their way to the temple with devotion, praise and thanks.
The blessed rest that God’s holy day brings to faithful hearts:
The resounding, the understanding, the depth of learning, the faith, the meditation,
The fervency that refresh the soul with life and strength!
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) - Laudate pueri "Sit nomen Domini", RV 600
Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice, the son of a professional violinist at St. Mark’s. He held the position of violin teacher at the Ospedale della Pieta, a girl’s orphanage in Venice, from 1703 to 1738, also taking on the post of “maestro de concerti”. In this position he wrote over 400 concertos to be performed by his students at weekly Sunday concerts. By 1709 his concertos were famous throughout Europe and Vivaldi soon spent much of his time traveling. He was a highly virtuostic violinist, applying this virtuosity to his concertos which heavily influenced violin technique as well as the concerto form. For centuries Vivaldi’s fame as an instrumental writer overshadowed his vocal output. Although the students at the Pieta were less known for their concerted choral singing than their orchestral playing, Vivaldi composed many sacred vocal works for the Pieta and over 40 operas, which were performed throughout Italy. Laudate pueri, one of his earliest vocal works, is a Vesper Psalm, written in 1715. "Sit nomen Domini" is a single movement from the larger work.
Translation: Laudate pueri "Sit nomen Domini"
Blessed be the name of the Lord
From this time forward, forever and ever.
Michel Corrette (1709-1795) – Sinfonies de Noël: No. 4
Michel Corrette, the French composer and author on music, held various posts as an organist in Paris and was well known as a teacher. He is widely known for his 17 instruction books on various instruments, which provide invaluable information on performance practice of the 18th century. A prolific composer, he composed ballets and divertissements for the stage, concertos, sonatas, songs, and sacred vocal works. His Sinfonies de Noël includes innovative settings of seven Noëls, or popular French Christmas carols, for organ and small string ensemble.
Notes by Lisa Marie Lawson