by Michael Caruso
Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia’s internationally acclaimed baroque instruments orchestra, will open its 2014-15 season with a program entitled “Tempesta Sings Bach, Rosenmuller & Praetorius” Saturday, Oct. 25, 8 p.m., in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The orchestra will be joined by a vocal quartet comprised of Laura Heimes, Drew Minter, Aaron Sheehan and David Newman for a roster of vocal cantatas.
Explained Tempesta’s co-founders & co-directors Gwyn Roberts and Richard Stone, “Tempesta di Mare’s October program consists of German cantatas and vocal concerti that mark life’s milestones – birth, marriage and death – and the never-ending passage of time.”
They pointed out that Bach’s joyous but rarely performed birthday serenata, “Durchlauchtigster Leopold,” marks life’s beginning by celebrating its annual recurrence. Its dedicatee was the young Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen, himself a trained musician who sang bass and played several instruments.
Johann Rosenmuller composed his wedding cantata, “Es muss dir, wertes Paar,” for the 1646 marriage of Scotsman Robert Douglas, major-general of the Swedish Army during the 30 Years War, to Hedvig Morner, a Swedish noblewoman. The score – styled after early and middle 17th century Venetian models such as those composed by Gabrielli and Cavalli – assigns a mythological character to each singer: Venus, Juno, Apollo and Mars. Each deity blesses the happy couple with its own particular mythical attribute: beauty and wealth to the bride from Venus and Juno, wisdom and bravery to the groom from Apollo and Mars.
“Bach’s outlook on death,” they reminded me, “was a positive one, in keeping with his Lutheran theology. His Church Cantata No. 161, ‘Komm du susse Todesstunde’ (Come, sweet hour of death), affirms this central belief with music and lyrics that reflect both reverence and confidence.”
Roberts and Stone have chosen two vocal concerti for the New Year by Michael Praetorius to bookend the program, “Das alte Jahr ist nun vergahn” and “Nun helft mir Gottes Gute preisen,” which mark the eternal passage of time.
For ticket information visit www.tempestadimare.org.
CANTATA & CHAMBER
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill will present the second installment in its revived “Cantata and Chamber Music Series” Sunday, Oct. 26. The program, conducted by the congregation’s music director Daniel Spratlan, will feature George Frideric Handel’s “Dixit Dominus” from his Roman Vespers. The program will also include Psalm settings by Palestrina, Rossi and Bruckner. Since no local Roman Catholic parish celebrates Choral Vespers, this will be a rare chance to hear one of the most spectacular settings of the traditional text. There will be a 4:30 p.m. reception prior to the concert, which begins at 5 p.m.
Finnish-born pianist Marja Kaisla will present at piano recital honoring the music of her homeland at Chestnut Hill’s Woodmere Art Museum Saturday, Oct. 25, 5 p.m. The West Mt. Airy resident will play works by Jean Sibelius, Einar Englund and Selim Palmgren. The concert is presented in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sibelius in 2015. The Finnish master’s music was a particular favorite of the late Eugene Ormandy, music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra for 44 years. Ormandy led the Philadelphians on a European tour during the 1950s that included a visit to Sibelius’ home in the Finnish countryside.
Alan Gilbert guest conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Singers Chorale in three performances of Leos Janacek’s “Glagolitic” (Slavonic) Mass October 16-18 in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. Several local singers took part in the concerts including: sopranos Molly Stejskal, Ulrike Shapiro, Katie Young & Jessica Brams-Miller; altos Dorothy Cardella, Alyson Harvey, Jennifer Smith & Paula Rivera-Dantagnan; tenors Aaron Freeman, Ken Garner, Michael Hogue & Douglas Rowland; and basses Peter Christian, Aaron Hoke, Joseph McQueen & Stephen Raytik.
Composed in 1926, Janacek’s “Glagolitic” Mass sets the traditional text of the Roman Catholic liturgy in Slavonic rather than Latin. As would be the case with the work of any great composer – and Janacek (1854-1928) was most definitely one of the most compelling musicians of his era – the Moravian (Czech Republic) master fashioned all the music (choral, solo vocal and instrumental) to the jagged edges and pungent accents of Old Church Slavonic, the language of the Slavic peoples when they were converted to Christianity by Saints Cyril and Methodius. Thus the musical language of this “Slavonic” Mass is far different from that of the Renaissance masters Palestrina and Victoria, the classical titans Haydn and Mozart, and the romantic composers who set the Latin text of the Mass – dark rather than transparent, bold rather than refined.
WEEKEND’S CONCERTS: Vladimir Jurowski will conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra in Julian Anderson’s “The Stations of the Sun,” Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 with Alina Ibragimova, and Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” October 23 & 25 at 8 p.m.