Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, closed out its 20th anniversary season with a concert that is now available online through July 19.
Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, closed out its 20th anniversary season with a concert that is now available online through July 19. The program was originally performed in late May and included music by Fasch, Janitsch, Reutter and Telemann.
During the two decades of its “corporate” life, Tempesta di Mare has focused on discovering, uncovering and reconstructing scores from the baroque era (approximately 1600 to 1750) that, for one reason or another, have fallen out of the notice of not merely audiences but of musicians, as well. Co-founders and co-directors Gwyn Roberts (recorder and flute) and Richard Stone (lute and its extended cousin, theorbo) have made the music of Johann Friedrich Fasch a particular favorite. But as shown in this concert’s roster of composers, the works of Johann Gottlieb Janitsch and Georg Reutter the Younger haven’t been overlooked. And, of course, the many works of Georg Philipp Telemann often occupy pride of place.
This time around, it was Fasch’s Ouverture-Suite in D that most impressed me, both as a piece of music and by the rendition it received. Fasch is one of those composers whose output was highly regarded during his lifetime but whose canon, little by little, disappeared over the decades and centuries of music history’s flow. By the time of World War II, most musicians – even those who worked in the baroque repertoire – barely noticed when many of Fasch’s scores were destroyed during the Allies’ bombing of Nazi Germany.
Because of the determined efforts of Roberts and Stone, many of Fasch’s manuscripts have been recovered and reconstructed into performable editions. This Ouverture-Suite in D is an especially appealing opus that should win over more than a few doubters because of its strength and beauty.
The work opens with a broadly spacious Ouverture, then continues with a graciously aristocratic Air, a spritely and flirtatious pair of bourees, a second lyrical Air, a hearty pair of gavottes and a meaty pair of menuets.
The performance of Fasch's Ouverture-Suite in D was even more impressive than the work itself. Under the secure yet sensitive leadership of concertmaster Emlyn Ngai and with the spiritual inspiration of Stone on the theorbo, and the basso-continuo foundation of harpsichordist Adam Pearl, each movement of the score was given its individual due as a character piece yet molded into a whole far more memorable than the simple sum of its individual parts.
The Ouverture evoked the splendor of the royal and aristocratic courts of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the two Airs glowed with eloquence, and the three double dance movements beckoned the listener to join in the fun. Of particular notice was the spacing and blending of the string, woodwind and brass choirs. As sections within themselves, they sang with both clarity and homogeneity. As part of the entire orchestra, they proffered an immaculately conceived and projected texture that shimmered with bracing brilliance.
Janitsch’s “Darnstadt” Sinfonia in G is a three-movement gem that bridges the divide between the glittering high baroque of the first half of the 18th century and the burgeoning developmental classicism of its second half. It received a dashing reading.
Reutter’s “Servizio da tavola” No. 1 is a musical smorgasbord of beguiling melodies and brawny rhythms. It was given a delightful rendition. Telemann’s Ouverture in D was his final character suite in which he delineated the traits of various illnesses and those who suffered from them. It received a compelling performance.
Added to the “official” program was a fanfare from a cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach, the supreme master of the baroque epoch and the composer often named by professional classical musicians as the greatest of them all. It received so stellar an interpretation that I found myself wishing, as I often do at Tempesta’s concerts, that the ensemble would program more scores by Bach, and also by his German-born contemporary, George Frideric Handel. I dream of hearing Tempesta playing one of Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concerti or Orchestral Suites or Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks” or one of his three suites from “The Water Music.”
COVID Strikes Again
Due to an outbreak of COVID among its members, The Crossing was forced to cancel the second of its three “Month of Moderns” concerts at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. Entitled “Unhistoric Acts,” it had been scheduled to be sung Saturday, June 25. Fortunately, the remaining concert, “Sumptuous Planet,” is still set to go Friday, July 8, at 7 p.m. The program’s moniker is taken from its principal work, the world premiere of “Sumptuous Planet” by West Mt. Airy’s David Shapiro. The concert will be conducted by the newly-minted Germantown resident, Donald Nally.
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