By Michael Caruso
Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, performed “Mississippi Bubble” Sunday, March 1, in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The concert focused on the bursting of the so-called “Mississippi Bubble” investment scheme and the subsequent stock market collapse of 1720, first in France and then throughout much of Europe.
The program’s “title piece” was Telemann’s Ouverture in B-flat, “The Stock Exchange,” written in his second floor apartment above the stock exchange in Frankfurt as the composer watched the financial catastrophe unfold. The impetus was the failure to deliver expected dividends by the French-based “Mississippi Company” that had invested heavily in France’s colonies in North America.
Even without the frightful relevancy of the economic situation of three centuries ago with that of our own era, Telemann’s music is masterful. Divided into six movements, five of which are musical character studies, the composer employs the full panoply of a baroque symphonic ensemble – precisely what Tempesta’s co-directors Gwyn Roberts & Richard Stone fielded Sunday afternoon for an enthusiastic audience.
The ample string section played with tart precision and a silken luster, the woodwinds were eloquent in their lyricism, and Stone on lute and Adam Pearl at the harpsichord provided an unshakeable foundation. Telemann’s expert command over form and feeling was superbly delineated.
The concert opened with a riveting rendition of Vivaldi’s Concerto in G minor, in which the entire ensemble projected the genius of the founding father of the High Baroque style. Harmonic progressions followed one after the other in a seamless flow of shimmering scoring. With a little arranging help from Stone, Roberts was the dashing soloist in Bach’s Concerto in C major for Recorder & Strings, weaving the recorder’s delicate tones into the composer’s supreme contrapuntal texture.
The afternoon’s most dazzling score was Rebel’s “Characters of the Dance” while its most ravishing was Fasch’s Concerto in G. The former offered an unbroken line of alluring dance movements while the latter seduced the ear with exquisite melodies and harmonies. Both were played with exemplary technical polish and stylish musicality.
Perhaps most important of all, the program splendidly revived music composed by musicians who lived and worked at the very inception of the canon of European classical music. The High Baroque style of the 18th century was the bread-and-butter of Marc Mostovoy’s Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia. Its successor organization, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, every so often nods its institutional head in the direction of the music of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. More often, however, it builds its programs from different source material.
With the Philadelphia Orchestra almost never performing the transcendent masterpieces of either Bach or Handel and only rarely playing much music by Haydn or Mozart, local lovers of the classics can only be grateful for Tempesta di Mare for its season of local concerts.
Tempesta’s recorder players will perform Bach’s “Art of the Fugue” March 8 at the German Society of Pennsylvania, 611 Spring Garden St. Its harpsichordist Adam Pearl will play music of the late French Baroque March 14 at 5 p.m. in Chestnut Hill’s Woodmere Art Museum and March 15 at 3 p.m. in the Museum of the American Revolution, 3rd and Chestnut Sts. Call 215-755-8776 or visit tempestadimare.org.
CHESTNUT STREET SINGERS
The Chestnut Street Singers will give the world premiere of Dale Trumbore’s “A Different Kind of Flight” Friday, March 6, at 8 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The work was commissioned by and dedicated to the choir.
The text for “A Different Kind if Flight” was written by current and former members of the ensemble, reflecting the ways in which singing in Chestnut Street Singers has impacted their lives. The concert also includes music by composers such as Finney, Puts, Wolfe and Barber. The program will be repeated Sunday, March 8, at 4 p.m. in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1625 Locust St.
Admission is free, but a free-will offering would be greatly appreciated. Visit chestnutstreetsingers.org.
The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and Symphony in C will perform Beethoven’s “Mass in C” and “Choral Fantasy” March 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square. The concert will be conducted by acting music director John Leonard; Tomoko Kanamaru will be the piano soloist. Visit mcchorus.org.
Pennsylvania Ballet will present the world premiere of artistic director Angel Corella’s choreography of “La Bayadere” March 5-15 in the Academy of Music. The ballet is set to Minkus’ graceful score. Visit paballet.org.