Bach at Noon, February 13: An Early Valentine

Join us for what promises to be a delightful antidote to all the winter grey-ness of the last few weeks at February’s Bach at Noon at Central Moravian Church.  Greg Funfgeld, our Artistic Director and Conductor is enthusiastic about offering a program that, in his own words, “promises to be a perfect antidote to winter cold, darkness, and the sagging spirits that come with it. It is a program to lift the spirit, delight the soul, and warm the hearts of all present.”  Hear, hear!

It’s also an early St. Valentine’s Day gift, perhaps fitting since the patron of love is being honored, this year, on the same day as Ash Wednesday.  Let’s celebrate on the 13th, instead!  The program will begin with the rhapsody of late-season Beethoven, the last of his violin sonatas, Op. 96.  Elizabeth Field, our concertmaster, will offer this delectable confection with the collaborative pianist, Steven Silverman.  The work has all the hallmarks of Beethoven’s mature chamber music:  a variety of textures and moods, warm melodies, supple lyricism, and a total mastery of form.  The native intelligence in, say, any random ten seconds of this work simply staggers the mind!  We’ve long admired Liz’s playing in music from the baroque period, but it’s a special treat to hear her offer her polish and poise to the music from later periods.  What a wonderful way to start the festivities!

Speaking of festivities, they will burst into overdrive with Julie Bosworth’s performance of Bach’s Cantata BWV 51, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen!  Our Program Annotator, Dr. Robin Leaver, opines that this cantata is “virtually unique in the literature, with Mozart’s Exultate jubilate being its only serious rival.”  It is a virtuosic romp for soprano and trumpet -Brian Kuszyk will be taking the trumpet obligato.  Julie was a winner of our Biennial Competition for Young American Singers, held in conjunction with the American Bach Society.  Julie is ascendant, has frequent opera and oratorio engagements, and sings with the choir of the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, D.C.  Brian plays regularly in the Bach Festival Orchestra, and serves as principal trumpet for Opera Philadelphia (where he’ll be playing George Benjamin’s Written on Skin in the upcoming weeks – what a demanding schedule!), the Pennsylvania Ballet, and the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and as a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.  Their collaboration with other members of the Bach Festival Orchestra is sure to be a special pleasure!  BWV 51 has been likened to a game of musical tag, with both trumpet and soprano high in the stratosphere.  This is Bach at his most playful and challenging, with zaggy melismas and zigs to top Cs.  In the midst of that, there’s a lyrical aria,  duetting violins over which the soprano sings a beautiful cantus firmus, and the last utterly euphoric Alleluia. We’ve heard some masters perform this work in recent years, including Agnes Zigovics and Laurie Heimes, with our principal trumpet, Larry Wright, and the English soprano, Joanne Lunn, joined by Guy Ferber on the natural trumpet, in a performance with our 2015 Gala artists, the Bach Collegium Japan.  Additionally, the Bach Festival Orchestra recorded the work with the early music master, Ann Monoyios, with Larry Wright on trumpet, in 2000 (if you enjoy the work, and don’t have our recording of the Ascension Oratorio, BWV 51, and the Pentecost cantata, O Ewiges Feuer, you should add it to your collection – it’s the last recording we did with the Dorian label, and it’s full of stunning performances and gratifying sonics – you can order it from the shop on this site).

I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be able to attend, myself, because of pre-Ash Wednesday preparations at the day job, but I cannot commend this performance to you enough.  Without giving away a surprise, there will be special incentives, beyond the music, if you do.  You’ll want to arrive a little before when the doors open at 11:30 to secure a good seat.

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