Saturday Evening, April 1, 2017 at 7:30 pm – Zion Lutheran Church
The Dallas Bach Society
James Richman, Artistic Director
German Baroque Passiontide Music
Cantata 4: Christ lag in Todesbanden (BWV 4, 1707) by Johann Sebastian Bach
Verse I: Christ lag in Todes Banden
Verse II: Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt
Ms. Beasley, Ms. Kledas
Verse III: Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn
Verse IV: Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg
Verse V: Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm
Verse VI: So feiern wir das hohe Fest
Verse VII: Wir essen und leben wohl
Die Sieben Worte Jesu Christi am Kreuz by Heinrich Schütz
Evangelist – Nicholas Garza
Jesus – Patrick Gnage
Criminals by Jesus’s side – Peter Tiggelaar, W. Charles Moore
Membra Jesu Nostri by Dietrich Buxtehude
Ad pedes: Ecce super montes
Ad genua: Ad uber portabimini
Ad manus: Quid sunt plagae istae
Ad latus: Surge amica mea
Ad pectus: Sicut modo geniti infantes
Ad cor: Vulnerasti cor meum
Ad faciem: Illustra faciem tuam
Anna Fredericka Popova, Leslie Hochman, Soprano
Nicholas Garza, Alto
Tucker Bilodeau, Tenor
David Grogan, Bass
bout the Program:
In the eighteenth century, music in Germany adopted the best from Italy and France, and crafted from these the cosmopolitan style which reached its apex with Mozart. This was quite intentional, and a conscious choice by the leading composers, leaving behind the native German School, which was considered somehow primitive and parochial for all its forthright and powerful skill and clarity. It is this abandoned tradition that we celebrate in this concert.
Heinrich Schütz, the first of our composers this evening, was born in the sixteenth century, and in fact was heavily influenced by his Venetian teacher, the renowned Giovanni Gabrieli, with whom he spent three years from 1609-1612. His musical studies were launched early on when the Landgrave Moritz of Hessen-Kassel heard him sing at age twelve while staying at his father’s inn at Weissenfels. The Landgrave convinced his parents to allow him to become a choirboy at the castle in Kassel, after which he studied law, before going to Italy. He returned to become organist at Kassel from 1613 to 1615, at which point he left to become Court Composer to the Elector of Saxony in Dresden for the rest of his life. Of course the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War shortly thereafter had a profound and negative effect on all German musical life until 1648, and perhaps as a result Schuetz took advantage of an invitation to Italy to study with Claudio Monteverdi in 1628, and then in 1633 he went to Copenhagen for two years to compose music for the wedding festivities there, and then returned for another extended visit in 1641.
Luckily, Schütz lived to a very old age, and was able finally, with the end of the wars, to realize a great many compositions. An alarming amount of his earlier music is lost, including the first German opera, Dafne, from 1627, but nonetheless there are over 500 compositions that survive. His later works are almost austere in comparison with the flamboyance that marked his Italianate youth, and the Seven Last Words are typical of this style. The little Sinfonia contained in the work is the only piece of purely instrumental music (outside of the voluminous organ works) that we have.
Dietrich Buxtehude, born in 1637 in Denmark at Helsingborg (which is now part of Sweden), was a very important North German composer, especially for organ music, although in his case as well a great deal of music is lost, including a significant number of larger works. His career centered around the Marienkirche in Lübeck, where he moved in 1668 to succeed Franz Tunder. He followed in the footsteps of Tunder, including most importantly the Abendmusik concert series which resumed in 1673. He also married Tunder’s daughter, and apparently when both Handel and J.S. Bach paid homage to him late in life he offered them each his post, with the provision that they marry his daughter!
The Membra Jesu nostri patientis sanctissima (The Most Holy Limbs of our Suffering Jesus) is a cycle of seven cantatas, on the medieval hymn Salve mundi salutare which is divided into seven parts, each addressed to a different part of the crucified Christ’s body – the feet, knees, hands, sides, breast, heart and head. The work is scored for five voices, SSATB, and instruments. Buxtehude selected Biblical verses for each cantata, and used three strophes from each section of the poem for the arias in each cantata. The Biblical words refer to the member in each cantata, and are mostly taken from the Old Testament.
One of J.S. Bach’s earliest cantatas, indeed the earliest for which we have a firm performance date, is Christ lag in Todes Banden, written for Arnstadt. It is very much in the old German style, using all the verses in the hymn of Martin Luther on which it is based. The eight movements are all in the same key of E Minor.
It is very interesting indeed that Sebastian Bach seems to have taken Martin Luther’s words to heart in the creation of his chorale preludes, including this one, perhaps the most engaging and beloved of his compositions where the simple chorale tune is elaborated in complex and amazing ways. Luther declared, in his Table Talk: “How strange and wonderful it is that one voice sings a simple unpretentious tune… while three, four, or five other voices are also sung; these voices play and sway in joyful exuberance around the tune and with ever-varying art and tuneful sound wondrously adorn and beautify it, and in a celestial roundelay meet in friendly caress and lovely embrace; so that anyone, having a little understanding, must be moved and greatly wonder, and come to the conclusion that there is nothing rarer in the whole world than a song adorned by so many voices.” Two hundred years later Bach realized this precise formula for brilliant compositions!
About the Dallas Bach Society and James Richman:
Since its founding in 1982 the Dallas Bach Society has been the primary resource in the Southwest for Baroque and Classic music on original instruments. Under the musical direction of James Richman, the Society unites the finest vocalists and instrumentalists from the Metroplex, all over the United States, and from abroad, in lively and informed performances of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Monteverdi, Couperin, Schütz and other period composers. Every season the Dallas Bach Society presents a full program of Baroque and Classic music on original instruments, featuring performances of favorites like Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Passions, Cantatas and Brandenburg Concertos, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, as well as little known works of great music which would otherwise be heard only rarely, if at all. Significant recent performances include staged presentations of Monteverdi’s Ballo delle Ingrate and Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and the modern staged premiere of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Zéphyre, both with the New York Baroque Dance Company; the Dublin and Mozart versions of Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Saint John Passion and Saint Matthew Passion, French cantatas with Bernard Deletré and Ann Monoyios from the Paris Opera, CPE Bach’s Concerto for Harpsichord and Fortepiano with fortepianist Christoph Hammer, and recordings for CD of Messiah and Bach solo Cantatas. Our performance of Messiah was chosen for broadcast nationwide by Public Radio International in 2012. The Board of Directors has defined the mission of the Dallas Bach Society as follows: to present in public performances of the highest quality music composed before 1800, especially the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, to encourage the development of this musical repertoire in the Dallas area for both performers and audience, and to promote and encourage public education and awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the musical art of the Baroque and earlier periods in our own time. Funding for the DBS includes grants from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, Texas Commission of the Arts, the Dallas Foundation, TACA, and private donations. The DBS is a member of the Association of Professional Vocal Ensembles, the Neue Bach Gesellschaft, and is a founding member of Early Music America.
James Richman, Artistic Director of the Dallas Bach Society, is a prominent harpsichordist and fortepianist, as well as one of today’s leading conductors of Baroque music and opera. The first musician since Leonard Bernstein to graduate Harvard, Juilliard, and the Curtis Institute of Music, James Richman studied conducting with Max Rudolf and Herbert Blomstedt, piano with Rosina Lhevinne and Mieczyslaw Horszowski, and harpsichord with Albert Fuller and Kenneth Gilbert. He holds a degree in the History of Science magna cum laude from Harvard College. A recipient of the prestigious United States-France Exchange Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he was made a chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1995, in recognition of his contributions to the field of music. James Richman has been a prizewinner in four international competitions for early keyboard instruments, including first prize in the Bodky Competition of the Cambridge Society of Early Music, laureate of the Bruges Harpsichord Competition and bronze medal in the Paris Harpsichord Competition of the Festival Estival and in the First International Fortepiano Competition (Paris). In appearances at the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Spoleto Festival USA, the E. Nakamichi Baroque Festival, the Boston Early Music Festival, as well as in regular series in New York, he has organized and conducted revivals of stage works by Handel, Gluck, Purcell, J.C. Bach, Monteverdi, and seven operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau. He has recorded for Nonesuch, Newport Classic, Centaur, Vox and New World records, and his live performance of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6 is featured on National Public Radio’s Bach CD, along with recordings of James Galway, Yo-Yo Ma and Christopher Hogwood. He is also Artistic Director of New York’s Concert Royal ensemble, which appears annually with the Choir of Men and Boys at Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue in the performances of Messiah and the great works of Bach and Purcell.