by Michael Caruso
Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, will perform a program entitled “Tempesta Plays 2 Bachs & Telemann” Saturday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The concert will feature music by Johann Sebastian Bach, his son Carl Philip Emmanuel, and his son’s godfather and namesake, Georg Philip Telemann.
All three composers — father, son and godfather — shared lifelong personal and professional musical exchanges, explained Richard Stone and Gwyn Roberts, co-founders/co-directors of the internationally acclaimed period instruments ensemble. “This program showcases the musical relationships as reflected in the father’s high baroque traditionalism, the son’s early classical modernity, and the godfather’s embrace of it all.”
Telemann was born four years before Johann Sebastian (born in 1685, the same year as both George Frideric Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, died in 1750) and outlived him by 17 years. Telemann is represented by the earliest and latest pieces in the concert, forming something of a pair of bookends at the start and finish. The first, the “Concerto in G major,” features Gwyn Roberts as recorder soloist; the second, the “Divertimento for Strings in B-flat major,” was composed when Telemann was in his 80s.
It’s interesting to note that, during the lifetimes of all three composers, the music of both Telemann and C.P.E. Bach was far more popular than that of J.S. Bach, who today is regarded as the greatest of all classical composers. His birth-year contemporary, G.F. Handel, who outlived him by nine years, is the only baroque composer to be considered a peer. Bach’s “Triple Concerto in A minor” will feature harpsichordist Adam Pearl, concertmaster Emlyn Ngai on violin, and Roberts on recorder.
C.P.E. Bach’s “Sinfonia in C major” will be played in its original version for string orchestra. And a recently recovered single movement from his “Flute Concerto in D major” will round out the program.
Tempesta di Mare will return to Chestnut Hill Saturday, Dec. 20, 8 p.m. for a performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” The orchestra will be joined by the Brandywine Singers and vocal soloists Julianne Baird, Emily Bullock, Stephen Ng and Randall Scarlatta for the concert, which will take place in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. For ticket information regarding both concerts, visit www.tempestadimare.org.
Zachary Hemenway, organist and choir director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, was the guest organist for Advent Choral Vespers Sunday afternoon, Nov. 30, at Old St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Society Hill. Also taking part were two Chestnut Hill singers, William Lim and Stephen Fritsch, in the traditional service that opens the Advent season leading up to Christmastide at the oldest Catholic Church in Philadelphia, founded by Jesuit Fathers in 1733.
Hemenway beautifully performed three chorale preludes by Johann Sebastian Bach as well as his own splendid improvisation on the Gregorian chant theme, “Conditor Alme Siderum.” The pipe organ at Old St. Joe’s is the Skinner organ taken from the now-closed St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Germantown. Hemenway also accompanied the parish’s Schola Cantorum. The choral portion of the program was the same as that performed a year ago under the direction of noted local church composer and parish music director, Normand Gouin, who has since taken up a position at Holy Cross College in Massachusetts. This time around, under interim music director Marianne Lipson, the choir’s singing lacked the tonal warmth, textural clarity, purity of pitch and flawless ensemble that previously characterized its singing.
Hemenway will lead the choir of St. Paul’s Church, Chestnut Hill, in its annual service of Lessons and Carols Sunday, Dec. 21, 5 p.m. The list of composers whose music will be sung includes Frank Boles, Herbert Howells, Mateo Flecha, John Goss, Ola Gjeilo, John Rutter, Paul Halley and William Mathias. More information at 215-242-2055 or www.stpaulschestnuthill.org.
Over the past two weekends, members of the Philadelphia Orchestra have stepped forward as soloists with the ensemble in concerts given in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. First associate concertmaster Juliette Kang was the soloist in Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto Nov.21 and 22, giving a rendition that surpassed its daunting technical demands through elegant phrasing and a warm tone.
Saturday evening’s guest conductor was the Spanish-born Juanjo Mena. Bookending pieces by Debussy and Rossini, he led Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio espagnol” and Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4 in F minor.” Although there’s every bit as much of Czarist Russia as there is of festive Spain in the “Capriccio,” Mena channeled his familiarity with the Iberian folk music upon which Rimsky-Korsakov based the score to lead a rendition that pulsed with passion expressed through dazzling orchestral colors.
YANNICK RETURNS: The Orchestra’s dynamic music director, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, returns to the ensemble’s podium Dec. 4-6 to lead Brahms’ “Third Symphony,” Haydn’s “Cello Concerto in C major” and Strauss’ “Suite from ‘Der Rosenkavalier.’”