Michael Chance and the FCO 11th February 2012

The Concert titled Music to Feed the Soul, and truly is an evening of emotive and beautiful chamber music.

Reviews

Programme for 11th February 2012
A. Correlli Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No. 8 in G minor ‘Christmas Concerto’        
Violins: Jeremy Ovenden & Florianne Peycelon
Cello: Julia Vohralik

 E. Elgar Soliloquy for Oboe
Oboe: Ian Crowther

A. Vivialdi Stabat Mater
Countertenor: Michael Chance

Interval

J.S. Bach Concerto for Oboe and Violin in D minor BWV 1060
Violin: Jeremy Ovenden   Oboe: Ian Crowther

C. W. Gluck Dance of the Blessed Spirits
Flute: Rosemary Rathbone

S. Barber Adagio for Strings

T. Albinoni Oboe Concerto in D minor
Oboe: Ian Crowther

An amazing opportuntity to hear the outstanding countertenor Michael Chance in the warm acoustics of the Shirley Hall, here in Canterbury. Michael has one of the most wonderful voices for Vivaldi’s glorious Stabat Mater.  As well as Stabat Mater, Ian Crowther will perform Elgar’s delicate Soliloquy for Oboe, and will be joined by Jeremy Ovenden on violin for Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin. Rosemary Rathbone will perform Gluck’s most well known piece from his opera Orpheus and Eurydice, The Dance of the Blessed Spirits, and the Orchestra will perform one of the”saddest classical” work ever, (as voted listeners of the BBC’s Today program ) Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

Programme Notes

A. Correlli Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No. 8 in G minor
Early in his career, Arcangelo Corelli moved to Rome and soon became one of the leading violinists of that city. His reputation also grew as a conductor committed to high performance   standards, his fine teaching and composition. Although not an innovator, Corelli’s influence as a composer both in Italy and abroad, was unparalleled, even though his output was small (primarily six collections of instrumental works.)

This piece was commissioned by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (published posthumously in 1714 as part of his Twelve concerti grossi, Op. 6), and the concerto bears the inscription Fatto per la notte di Natale (“Made for the night of Christmas”). Christmas Eve festivities of the great Roman houses of the time often included after dinner concerts of vocal and instrumental music prior to Midnight Mass. It was composed around 1690, since there is a record of Corelli having that year performed a  Christmas concerto for the enjoyment of his then-new patron. The work is structured as a concerto da chiesa, in this case        expanded from a typical four movement structure to six. The most famous of Corelli’s works, the piece is the least ’churchly’ of his Concerti Grossi, sporting alternating fast/slow tempos and including several joyous dance movements. The concluding Pastorale in 12/18 time evokes images of the shepherds in the field and angels hovering over Bethlehem.

E. Elgar Soliloquy  for Oboe
In 1930 Elgar commenced writing a Suite for solo oboe and string orchestra, at the request of the famous oboist Leon Goossens. Only the second movement was ever completed, and remained unheard until 1967, when it was given its first performance in an orchestral arrangement by Gordon Jacob. The manuscript became accessible following Goossens’ death, when his music collection was donated to the British Library.

A. Vivaldi Stabat Mater
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born on March 4, 1678 in Venice, where he spent the bulk of his career. After many years of   service at the Ospedale della Pietà, he relocated to Vienna where he died on July 28, 1741. His enormous creative output includes orchestral and chamber works, sacred music, and   operas. The Stabat Mater RV 621 was written in 1712 and given its first performance during Holy Week in Brescia, Lombardy, that same year.

Vivaldi was at loose ends for much of 1711. Two years previously he had fallen prey to Venice’s toxic political climate and had lost his position as violin teacher  – only temporarily, as it turned out  – at the Ospedale della Pietà, the musical orphanage for girls that figures so prominently in his biography. In February 1711 Vivaldi travelled to Brescia in Lombardy, at the foot of the Alps, where he had landed a gig playing violin in the celebration of the Feast of the Purification. Vivaldi must have made a strong impression on the governors of the Chiesa Santa Maria della Pace, for they hired him to compose a Stabat Mater for the 1712 Holy Week.

The text, a 13th-century poem attributed to a plethora of    authors, meditates on Mary’s suffering during her son’s crucifixion. Its richly evocative mood, expressed in steady rhythm and a simple rhyme scheme, has made it a favourite amongst composers over the centuries, with settings ranging from Palestrina through Pergolesi to Poulenc. Although the original poem extends for twenty stanzas, Vivaldi chose to set only the first ten, placing this particular Stabat Mater well apart from its 20-stanza brethren. Furthermore, it just may be the most bleak Stabat Mater in all music, but within its monochromatic stillness lies rapt concentration, not dourness. Like so many Vivaldi works, the Stabat Mater remained hidden for centuries, until it was heard again on   September 20, 1939 in Siena. Since then it has become Vivaldi’s most frequently performed and recorded sacred vocal work, cherished not only for its exquisitely refined beauty but also for its sustained mood of spiritual fervor

J.S. Bach Concerto for Oboe and Violin  
In 1729 Bach took charge of the Collegium Musicum in  Leipzig, originally founded by Telemann, where there was a need to compose music on a regular basis for the weekly     instrumental recitals. Among the pupils at the time of the work’s composition (the exact date is uncertain), there must have been talented harpsichord players, for, although originally written for oboe and violin as in this evening’s  performance, the work in fact only survives in a version for two harpsichords. The original violin and oboe lines can, however, be traced from the right hand keyboard parts, and this version is commonly held to be the more attractive, since the two solo instruments not only offer a contrast in tone, but are also    capable of maintaining a true cantabile in the beautiful slow movement.

C. W. Gluck Dance of the Blessed Spirits
Christoph Willibald (von) Gluck  (1714 – 1787) was a German composer, one of the most important opera composers of the Classical music era. He is also remembered as the music teacher of Marie Antoinette who as Queen of France promoted Gluck and was his patron. This piece The Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Gluck’s opera Orpheus and Eurydice has appeared in many popular arrangements, and is perhaps one of Gluck’s best-known pieces. Ethereal music featuring a prominent solo flute which welcomes the hero to the Elysian Fields, where he spies his beloved Eurydice from afar. Having influenced a number of hugely significant composers from Mozart to Wagner, Orpheus is considered a turning point in the history of opera.

S. Barber Adagio for Strings
Only rarely has it happened that a piece of music appears whose context is so consistently expressive, its climaxes so  telling, its proportions so right, its message so clear and       convincing, that the musical public accepts it at once and wholeheartedly. Such a piece is Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, which is the composer’s arrangement of a movement from his own string quartet. On completion of the work in 1937 Barber submitted the score to Toscanini for  consideration, who returned it some time later without comment, much to Barber’s disappointment. Only later did he learn that the maestro had been so impressed that he had memorised the entire work.
It received its first performance, under Toscanini, on November 5th 1938. The Adagio has been played at numerous memorial concerts, including that of Barber himself. The    Adagio was performed in 2001 at Last Night of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall to commemorate the victims of the September 11 attacks, replacing the traditional upbeat patriotic songs. In 2004, listeners of the BBC’s Today program voted Adagio for Strings the “saddest classical” work ever.

T. Albinoni Oboe Concerto in D minor
Without doubt, Tomaso Albinoni was one of the very greatest composers of the Italian baroque – a musician who contributed particularly to the development of the concerto form and one whose essays for oboe and orchestra are among the loveliest such expressions in the repertoire; it may well be that Albinoni was the very first composer to write solo concerti for the oboe. His most famous “work” is perhaps the noble fragment of a Trio Sonata that the Italian 20th century musical scholar Remo Giazotto bequeathed to us as “Albinoni’s” Adagio for strings and organ. In actual fact, the piece is far more Giazotto than Albinoni! Few would dissent from the notion that this evening’s concerto in D minor published in Amsterdam in 1722 is its composer’s finest work for solo instrument and   orchestra.

 

 

 

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