Some Much-Needed Musical Sunshine: Bach at Noon, February 11th

You can combat the inescapable seasonal affective disorder of this relentless winter by attending this Tuesday’s Bach at Noon!  The program will include music suffused with light and humor, as well as a giant helping of virtuosity.  We will begin with four selections of Bach’s music arranged for two pianos by Wray Lundquist, performed by Greg Funfgeld, our Artistic Director and Conductor, and Tom Goeman, our fantastic Assistant Conductor and all-around keyboard virtuoso.  Earlier in the season, we were treated to hear the two tackle a two-piano Mozart sonata, and, now, we’ll enjoy their work on these wonderful arrangements of Bach.  The pieces are Bach’s “Little” Fugue in G-Minor, one of his most famous displays of contrapuntal perfection, a movement from a flute sonata, a reprise and reimagination of an aria we heard earlier in the season, the weak yet eager footsteps of “Wir eilen mit schwachen,” from  Cantata 78, and Bach’s impossibly whimsical “Gigue Fugue.”  I’ve heard Greg and Tom play these pieces before, and I’m quite excited for the additional opportunity.  In working together as long as they have, they’ve achieved a musical mind meld, but one that also allows for the distinct musical personalities of each to shine quite clearly.  They play these pieces beautifully together, and I can absolutely guarantee that your toes will be tapping to “Wir eilen,” and the Gigue Fugue may have you wanting to get up and dance!

The program will conclude with Laura Heimes’ performance, joined by Larry Wright on trumpet, and members of the Bach Festival Orchestra, of Bach’s ecstatic solo cantata, BWV 51.  The first time I heard Laura sing was many moons ago in the concert series of a musical colleague whose church was across the street from mine, in a performance of Cantata 51.  It was stunning, and I thought to myself, “She’s got the perfect voice for that piece.”  We heard Laura earlier this season in a Bach at Noon performance of Mozart’s equally ebullient Exsultate, Jubilate, and at the time Greg opined that it was Mozart’s version of the same kind of cantata.  How lucky we are to hear the same performer offer what’s certain to be definitive versions of both works!  Though more intimate in orchestration, Bach’s exploration of the solo soprano voice is no less epic, and Cantata 51 is replete with melismatic glory, high notes aplenty, and instrumental genius.  For a taste, if you have it in your library, you can listen to Larry and his orchestral colleagues tackle this wonderfully fizzy cantata with the soprano Anne Monoyios on our recording of the Ascension Oratorio and Two Festive Cantatas.

I have to say, I’m enormously grateful for this program.  If I may guarantee toe-tapping and an inclination to dance after the first half of the program, I’m equally confident that, by the end of Cantata 51, you will be spiritually impervious to Wednesday’s potential snow.  Prepare yourself for a giant infusion of musical joy!

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