Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Year’s Day Concert
Heliconian Hall,  35 Hazelton Ave. Toronto
Jan. 1, 2PM   & Jan. 2, 8PM, 2015

Sonata Op. 1 No. 1                  Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Grave – Allegro – Adagio – Allegro

Rorate Caeli from Concerti Sacri Op. 2  Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)

Sonata Violino e Basso                  Alessandro Stradella (1632-1689)
Andante – Allegro – Adagio – Vivo – Adagio – Allegro

Sonata Prima from Sonatae Unarum Fidium  Johann Schmelzer (c. 1620–1680)

Sinfonia à 2 Violini e Basso                  Stradella
Grave – Allegro – Andante – Allegro – Allegro


Sonata 2:a        Giovanni Zamboni (1664-1721?)
Alemanda – Current – Sarabanda, Largo – Giga

Serenata con Violini          Scarlatti
Sinfonia – Recit – Aria, Largo – Recit – Ritornello & Aria – Recit – 
Aria, Andante – Recit – Aria, Largo – Recit – Recit Accompagnato

Program Note
Few composers have been as famous and influential in their own lifetimes as Arcangelo Corelli. His trio sonatas, solo sonatas and concerti grossi were the model for all composers who wrote in those Italianate forms. Corelli’s Opus 1 and 3 trio sonatas come with partbooks labeled ‘violino primo, violino secondo, organo’ and ‘violone o arcliliuto’ when printed in Rome. The archlute, then, is a substitute for the bowed bass, though the violone (what we would call a cello, but maybe a biggish one) and archlute book has the same figures above the notes as the organ part. Some latitude was used in the scoring in the bass as the sonatas spread across Europe. The title page of John Walsh’s London edition of the early 18th century says the ‘through bass’ is for ‘ye organ harpsichord or archlute.’ The archlute is a chordal instrument then.

The rather dissolute life of Alessandro Stradella would be best expressed, not in a short program note, but in an opera, which, indeed, it has been. At least two operas of the singing kind have been composed, but perhaps the soap variety would be even better. A minor nobleman, he moved to Rome to compose for Queen Christina of Sweden and the church. Some of the church’s money, though was found ‘resting in his bank account’. He fled to Venice where he was installed as music teacher to a nobleman’s mistress. She and Stradella ran off together and his former employer (the nobleman, not the church) had hitmen stab him to death in the piazza.

Schmelzer seems to have been a rather less excitable fellow. He worked all his life at the court of the Holy Roman Empire, where not only was Italian music on tap (the Neapolitan Giovanni Felice Sances was Schmelzer’s predecessor as Kappelmeister, and the list of musicians was full of Bertalis, Valentinis, Caldaras and Contis) but Italian was the main language spoken day-to day.

Printed in Lucca in 1718, the Sonate d’intavolatura di leuto Zamboni, a Roman who was lutenist at Pisa Cathedral, represents the swansong of Italian solo lute music, though the instrument continued to be used as a continuo instrument and as an obbligato instrument in operas and oratorios till the end of the baroque.

Alessandro Scarlatti was also a very prolific composer of cantatas both with just continuo and with other instruments a much under-performed genre considering what a large slice of so many composers’ works it comprises. Very often the cantata’s text is a description of the joys or sorrows (usually the sorrows) of an amorous shepherd, in the kind of perfect love only possible in the pastoral tradition. The pains of this shepherd are usually reported by another shepherd looking on. This all sounds terribly mannered to us today, but the pastoral tradition was used for centuries to demonstrate how perfect political entities might work, how the perfect host might behave, and, in the case of song, how the perfect lover might feel. Is it any less mannered than a present day hospital drama or cop show? Throughout the cantata we see Scarlatti deploy the tricks used by a composer of operatic ‘music-drama’, moving seamlessly between speech-like declamation and arioso passages in the recitatives as the emotions of the shepherd swirl. The arias, with their infectious melodies, each narrow the focus onto one ‘affect’ of the spurned lover.


Motet: Aria  Rorate Caeli
Scatter your dew heavens, Let the sweet dew fall in drops.
Let the day be joyful and happy, let the sun grow bright without fog, illuminate the whole world.

Recit - As the sun hastened toward its beloved Western horizon, his chariot star, the lazy Arcturus, was already with glittering flames turning to the sea. As the star’s glimmer dispersed the still night, revealing it as one of the most beautiful, the white Goddess arose, blushing and radiant from her pastoral bed with gleaming rays in her cheeks, and Love showed what secret flames she hid for the shepherd. It was the time when the year rejuvenates itself through the bosom of the flowers, instilling joy in the heart; when the lonely Daliso, leaning his weary side at the foot of a stone from which flowed a babbling silver spring, vented his tears and sighs, mingling them with the waves. He remained alone with his silent troubles. And from his cheeks cruel Love pitifully wiped the pearl-like tears, distilled from the sorrow of his heart. Finally, exhausted, his limbs entwined in the grass, tortured with love and gaze fixed heavenwards, sobbing, he unburdened his torment to the breezes and the wind thus:

Aria: Dark shadows that hide the glimmer of light from me, even if you should be the faithful friends of sorrow all that I now desire is that you weep for my tears.

Recit: Curilla, my soul, joy of my afflictions, if you go, I will die, my love. Ah! weep for me, my friendly stars. I ask you to shield me from these harsh tidings.

Ritornello & Aria: Fresh hoar frost so compassionate, revive these roses, kiss the tips of the flowers. Ah! fallen and pale, you turn into little tears to weep at my sorrow!

Recit: Faithful but senseless plants, who stayed the flight of the winged singer, you take from the earth only drops of bitterness because of the sorrow that is killing me, and now that Curilla has gone, you weep with me for my lost love. When her beautiful face beamed with happiness and laughter, we were transported to Paradise.

Aria: Beloved idol, tormentor of my heart, if only this harsh occurrence would betray my love. I suffer the sorrows, I hide the pains of our separation, O my love.

Recit: But you - sad eyes - tell me, what will you do when you are deprived of her radiant beauty? Ah! unhappy Daliso, know your destiny. Know that it is Love’s desire to burn in flames of grief and for the heart to bleed!

Aria-Largo: Beautiful waves, mercifully refreshing these meadows, you listen and are saddened by my mournful murmurings. Ah! you are weeping for my tears.

Recit: Curilla, my soul, ah! come and weep with me. Oh my beauty, adored light of my eyes, now I despair of all hope. But go happily wherever you are guided, my Curilla, and if spiteful fortune should take you far, it shall be far only from my eyes, not from my heart, my darling; and even if I feel the pain, I will delight in your happiness and desire only to set my love in your heart as a remembrance of me. Go, go happily, my heart. As the faithful lover I will accompany you for ever with my grief. Curilla, my soul. Curilla, farewell ...

Accompagniato: Daliso wished to say more but suddenly, from immense sorrow, he fell unconscious; and Love cried for him.


Christopher Verrette has been a member of the violin section of Tafelmusik since 1993 and is a frequent soloist and leader with the orchestra. He holds a Bachelor of Music and a Performer’s Certificate from Indiana University. He contributed to the development of early music in the American Midwest, as a founding member of the Chicago Baroque Ensemble and Ensemble Voltaire, and as a guest director with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra. He collaborates with many ensembles around North America, performing music from seven centuries on violin, viola, rebec, vielle, and viola d’amore. He was concertmaster in a recording of rarely heard classical symphonies for an anthology by Indiana University Press and recently collaborated with Sylvia Tyson on the companion recording to her novel, Joyner’s Dream.

Patricia Ahern has a BA and BMus from Northwestern University, MMus from Indiana University, and performer diploma from the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland. She taught baroque violin at the Freiburg Conservatory and Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute, and has given masterclasses at McGill, Wilfrid Laurier, York and Grand Valley State Universities, and the Universities of Windsor, Wisconsin and Toronto. She has concertized on five continents and performed with Milwaukee Baroque, Ars Antigua, Chicago Opera Theater, Kingsbury Ensemble, Aradia, I Furiosi, Newberry Consort, Musica Pacifica, and the Carmel Bach Festival. Tricia has recorded for Sony, Naxos, and Analekta, and joined Tafelmusik in 2002.

Borys Medicky has appeared as solo harpsichordist and continuo player in the United States, Canada, and Europe.  Resident in Toronto, Canada, he is active as a freelance performer, having appeared with major ensembles in Toronto and beyond.  He enjoys co-directing (with lutenist Lucas Harris) the Toronto Continuo Collective, an all-continuo ensemble dedicated to fostering an increased interest in the stylish basso continuo accompaniment of seventeenth-century vocal and instrumental music.  From 2006-2014 he was the artistic director of the Kitchener-based Nota Bene Baroque Players.  He serves as organist of the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist in Toronto.  In addition he builds harpsichords and carries out harpsichord maintenance duties for institutions and private clients in the Greater Toronto area.

As well as being a founding member of I Furiosi Baroque Ensemble, baroque cellist and viola da gambist Felix Deak showcases his career with orchestras and chamber ensembles, including Toronto's Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Montreal based Les Voix Humaines, and Opera Atelier. Felix teaches music in the TDSB and instructs private students in and around Toronto. He can be heard on CBC Radio Two in performances, and has made recordings for various labels at home and abroad.

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