Kensho Watanabe guest-conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in Mozart Symphonies 36 & 40, Nov. 27 & 28. Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players performed “A 1000-Guilder Tune: Musical Alchemy from Baroque Moravia,” Dec. 4. Next: Choral Arts Philadelphia and the Bach Festival of Philadelphia present J.S. Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” Dec. 31.
The Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players performed “A 1000-Guilder Tune: Musical Alchemy from Baroque Moravia” Saturday, Dec. 4, in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The concert drew one of the largest local indoor audiences (vaccinated and masked) since the beginning of the pandemic lockdown.
The concert’s title refers to the folktale known as “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” Two of the program’s scores were supposedly rumored to be among those pieces of music played by the piper of legend to rid a medieval town’s overwhelming population of rats. When the townsfolk refused to delivered the promised payment, the piper supposedly led their children out of the village, as well.
Tempesta’s actual program included three works by Pavel Josef Vejvanovsky, three by Philipp Jacob Ritter, and three by Giovanni Valentini. On hand to perform them were Perry Sutton & Brandon Bergeron on clarino (a high baroque trumpet), Gwyn Roberts, Heloise Degrugiller & Rainer Beckmann on recorders, Emlyn Ngai & Min-Young Kim on violin, Margaret Humphrey, Marika Holmqvist & Dan McCarthy on viola, Eve Miller on violincello, Lisa Terry on violone, Richard Stone on theorbo & guitar, and Adam Pearl on organ.
As is often the case with concerts performed by period players, the instruments, themselves, are sometimes almost as interesting as the music they’re called upon to play. This time around, it was the “clarino” that drew my interest. Long and valveless, I expected a timbre a tad too treble at best and a trifle shrill at worst.
My expectations were definitely off the mark, at least when played by Sutton and Bergeron. Their tessitura was high but never shrill, and their tones were produced and projected with the utmost of clarity and security.
All nine scores on the program proffered Tempesta’s expert players to capture the intimate beauty of the music composed during the 17th century. The 1600s were not necessarily a more refined time than our own, but the music of that epoch seems to have been more human-scaled than are our musical efforts.
Speaking in colors that combine the tart and the delicate, featuring counterpoint beneath the beguiling melodies and unfolding harmonies, celebrating rhythms both lively and unaffected, all nine works enveloped the audience in a blanket of expressivity.
Tempesta’s musicians played splendidly. Ensemble, balance, projection, vibrancy and lyricism were hallmarks of the renditions, and all were heard within the bracing acoustics of Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church.
The Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players will return to Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022 at 4 p.m. with “Season XX: 20 Years of Discovery.” For more information call 2215-755-8776 or visit tempestadimare.org.
If you’re looking for an inspiring way to ring out the old year and welcome the new through the beauty of classical music, Matthew Glandorf and Choral Arts Philadelphia have you covered. Along with the Bach Festival of Philadelphia, Glandorf will conducted J.S. Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” Friday, Dec. 31, at 4 p.mn. in the Episcopal Cathedral of Philadelphia.
Glandorf explained, “Bach’s ‘Christmas Oratorio’ is in six parts and was first performed over the major holy days that make up the 12 days of Christmas in 1733.
“What is daunting about mounting a full presentation of the complete work is the instrumentation for each of the six cantatas is different. The three trumpets and timpani appear in Cantatas Nos. 1, 3 & 6. The Cantata No. 2 requires four oboes, and the horns appear only in No. 4.”
He continued, “Although each cantata can stand on its own, I believe that it is a truly rewarding experience to hear the work complete as it explores the different narratives from the Gospels of Saints Matthew and Luke.
“This will be Choral Arts’ third full performance of the ‘Christmas Oratorio’ with the Philadelphia Bach Collegium, our companion ensemble that draws on some of the finest period instrumentalists in Greater Philadelphia. I am overjoyed that, with the ensemble and audience fully vaccinated, we can once again return to our New Year’s Eve tradition, which this year will feature 40 singers and 20 players.”
For ticket information call 215-240-2586 or visit choralarts.com.
Kensho Watanabe guest-conducted the Philadelphia in performances of two Mozart Symphonies – Nos. 36 & 40 – in Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall Nov. 27 & 28. Narrator Charlotte Blake Alston delivered her own beautifully written commentary on the life and times of the composer during the years when he wrote these two sublime scores.
Watanabe elicited fine playing from the Orchestra, but it lacked even a hint of the distinctive “Philadelphia Sound” of Stokowski and Ormandy, the “calling card” that had made the “Fabulous Philadelphians” the envy of the world.
You can contact NOTEWORTHY at Michaelemail@example.com.