Allegro Christopher Verrette, Solo Violin
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61 Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Recititative Marcos Ramos, tenor
Aria Marcos Ramos, tenor
Recititative Christian McConnell, bass
Aria Hallie Fishel, soprano
Cantata – Mariae Heimsuchung Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Arie: Meine Sel’ erhebt den Herrn Hallie Fishel, Soprano
Rezitativ: So schön
Arie: Erquickende Quelle des Labsals in Jesu
Magnificat, RV 610/611 Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Chorus: Et Exultavit Hallie Fishel, Soprano, Irene Gaspar, Alto, Adam Miceli, Tenor
Chorus: Et misericordia eius
Chorus: Fecit Potentiam
Duet: Esurientes Hallie Fishel, Kara Dymond, Sopranos
Chorus: Suscepit Israel
Solo: Sicut locutus Irene Gaspar, Alto
Chorus: Gloria Patri
In the notes to our Michaelmas concert, we expressed surprise that Vivaldi’s choral music was completely forgotten till the middle of the 20th century, including the now very famous Gloria we performed that night. The Magnificat we hear tonight is not so well known, but in its day it was clearly performed a great deal: it survives in several versions, each re-working the movements for the resources that the girls of the Pietà—the orphanage and music school which was Vivaldi’s main employer—could provide that year. One source even has the names of the girls who would sing the solos written in the score (Albetta was the alto, Apollonia, Chiaretta and Maria the sopranos and Ambrosina the tenor!). We follow the lead of the Red Priest by putting together a Magnificat from his several variant versions, using one choir and no oboes. Vivaldi uses the harmonic palette of the hair-raising moments from his Gloria, some of the string idioms from his “Winter” concerto, and an altogether peculiar effect of tutti unison to depict the mighty being deposed from their thrones.
Vivaldi’s Op. 3, titled L’Estro Armonico, was one of the most widely distributed sets of concertos in the early 18th century. Both Bach (who transcribed this particular concerto for keyboard) and Quantz used it as the model for concerto form. Vivaldi is said to have been excused from saying Mass due to his habit of breaking off and going out to jot down a melody if one occurred to him in the middle of the proceedings. His infectious melodies always convince us that he never let one get away.
In his Cantata for the First Sunday of Advent Bach cantata uses the “royal” image of the French Overture with the chorale tune superimposed. (Louis XIV, “le Grand”, for whom the French Overture was developed, was still around when Bach wrote Nun Komm BWV 61, though John Churchill had straitened his circumstances.) The chorale overture and tenor aria call on Christ to come; in the bass recitative, we hear the reply, as pizzicato violins portray the effect of Jesus knocking on the door of our hearts. The last movement uses part of the chorale tune Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern instead of title chorale, taking the violins up near the dwelling place of the morning star for an emphatic ending.
The Telemann cantata we offer tonight, which interpolates the Magnificat text, is for the feast of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth where Mary first feels Jesus “quicken” in the womb. This cantata is from the “annex” to his Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst and, as we discussed in the last program, this collection offers flexible scoring since Telemann was never sure what forces would be hanging around at each the five churches in Hamburg for which he provided music after the hours long Lutheran sermon. We act on his recommendation in the preface to double the violins with ripieno players “where there are sufficient players.”
This concert celebrates the end of term, and the beginning of a new church year brought by a baby, as we look forward and backward, like the god Janus. He, and the early morning classes on frosty mornings he’ll bring, are not here for a few weeks though.
May we wish you all a blessed Christmas and a joyful and peace-filled 2014.
THE MUSICIANS IN ORDINARY ORCHESTRA
Chris Verrette, Rona Goldensher, Emily Eng
Paul Zevenhuisen, Rezan Onen-Lapointe
Emily Eng, Eleanor Verrette
Erin Rose MacLeod
ST MICHAEL’S SCHOLA CANTORUM
Suzanna Attia, Sana Bathiche, Kara Dymond, Hallie Fishel, Catherine Hamilton
Cindy Dymond, Ana Iorgulescu, Irene Gaspar, Mekhriban Mamedova,
Annemarie Sherlock, Ann Marie Tedesco
Adam Miceli, Marcos Ramos
Christian McConnell, Paul McGrath
Bach, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Now come, saviour of the gentiles,
revealed as the child of the Virgin,
at whom all the world marvels
that God decreed such a birth for him.
The saviour has come, and has taken on himself our humble flesh and blood
and accepts us as his blood relations.
O highest goodness of all, what have you not done for us ? What do you not do even daily for your people?
You come and let your light
shine with full blessing.
Come, Jesus, come to your church
and grant us a blessed new year!
Increase the honour of your name,
Preserve sound teaching
and bless pulpit and altar!
See, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone will hear my voice and open the door, I shall go in and have supper with him and he with me.
Open wide, my whole heart,
Jesus comes and enters within.
Though I am only like dust and earth,
he does not want to scorn me
but to see his pleasure in me
so that I become his dwelling.
Oh how blessed I shall be!
Amen, amen! Come, you beauteous crown of gladness, do not tarry!
I await you with longing.
Telemann, Mariae Heimsuchung
Visitation of the Virgin
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices;
Heaven! I honour the proof of your mercy;
Earth! Rejoice to honour me gloriously;
Who is more blessed than I?
So beautiful, so tenderly sounded Mary’s joyful hymn,
since Gabriel called her Mother of God,
Elizabeth also honours her as Blessed.
Oh, my soul, embrace you also this Son of God, and seek to soar with him in thanksgiving, praise and song, to the immeasurably high throne!
Refreshing font of balm in Jesus,
water and refresh my longing heart!
Give yourself then to my most burning desires,
Oh fairest of creatures, to love me forever!
Ah, soothe the homesickness, the most tender pain.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
2. Et Exultavit
And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed.
The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
3. Et misericordia eius
And his mercy is on those who fear him, in every generation.
4. Fecit Potentiam
He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
7. Suscepit Israel
He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy.
8. Sicut locutus
As he spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children for ever.
9. Gloria Patri
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.