Program Notes for 4 June2005


with special guest Amanda Balestrieri, soprano
UETF Concert, 3 p. m., 4 June 2005, Albuquerque Museum

HEARTS, FLOWERS, AND THE SOUL
Vocal and Instrumental Music of the Baroque


Miranda ...............................................................................................Johann Christoph Pepusch (1667-1752)

soprano, violin, basso continuo (harpsichord and viola da gamba)

Trio sonata in c minor, “Sanguineus und Melancholicus,” H. 579 ..........Carl Philipp Emanual Bach (1714-1788)
Allegretto; Presto—Adagio

oboe, violin, basso continuo (harpsichord and viola da gamba)

Süßer Blumen ambraflocken, HWV 204............................................... George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
La bianca rosa, HWV 160b
Flammande Rose, HWV 210

soprano, oboe, violin, basso continuo (harpsichord and viola da gamba)

*****intermission*****

8e Concert, “dans le goût théatral”................................................................. François Couperin (1668-1733)

Ouverture
Sarabande: grave, et tendre
Air léger
Grande ritournéle: gravement
Air des Baccantes: très animé

oboe, violin, basso continuo (harpsichord and viola da gamba)

Cellandon.................................................................................................................... William Croft (1678-1727)

soprano, recorder, basso continuo (harpsichord and viola da gamba)


TRANSLATIONS AND ENGLISH TEXTS

“Miranda”
recitative: Miranda’s tunefull Voice and Fame had reach’d the wond’ring Skies.
From Heav’n the God of Musick came, to hear her Songs, and own’d a
pleas’d Surprize.
Then in a soft melodious Lay,
APOLLO did these gratefull Praises pay.
aria: Matchless Charmer, thine shall be the highest prize of Harmony.
Phaebus ever will inspire thee, and th’applauding world admire thee,
all shall in thy Praise agree.
recitative: The God then summon’d ev’ry Muse t’appear,
& hail their Sister of the Quire;
Smiling they stood around, her soothing Strains to hear,
And fill’d her happy Soul with all their Fire.
aria: O Harmony! How wond’rous sweet dost thou our cares allay!
When all thy moving graces meet, how softly dost thou Steal our easy
hours away.
--text by John Hughes

“Süßer Blumen ambraflocken”
Ambrosial petals of sweetness / Your silvery sheen incites me
To glorify Him that made thee. / And as you fall, I will soar
Heavenward and sing praises / To Him who created the world.
--text by Barthold Hinrich Brockes
--trans. Derek Yeld

“La bianca rosa”
aria: You display consummate beauty and grace, white Rose, among the
flowers. They are of many colors; you alone boast pure white.
recitative: If the industrious bee comes to steal dewy love from the flowers,
flying, he hardly touches every other flower, but in delight lands
on you. If a beautiful girl comes to make garlands, she plucks the
other flowers in confused disarray from the pleasant meadow; but
you alone, placed close to her heart among your green leaves,
adorn her breast.
aria: It is therefore certain that you are the queen of every other flower, if
you adorn beauty, o lovely rose! But your fragrant white is yet
defended by the thorn, and with good reason you are made so
proud.
--author of text unknown
--trans. Amanda Balestrieri
“Flammende Rose”
Flaming rose, ornament of the earth, / Bewitching pride of radiant gardens!
Eyes that behold your splendor / Must confess, astonished at your loveliness,
That you were created by the hand of God.
--text by Barthold Hinrich Brockes
--trans. Derek Yeld

“Celladon”
air: By purling streams poor Celladon was laid
While sighing “Iris, lovely, charming maid.”
See, in thy absence how thy lover dyes [dies]
While to his sighs the Echo still replyes.
recitative: The wat’ry element, as though his discourse t’were mov’d,
air: To Iris swiftly bent its liquid course,
On ev’ry curling rill convey’d a tear
And murmur’d “pity” to the cruel fair.
air: At last she relented, consid’ring his grief,
Remov’d his despair and gave him relief.
With a smile she reviv’d him, no more seeming coy,
And his suff’rings, now past, serve to heighten his joy.
--text probably by william Croft

PROGRAM NOTES

For this, our last concert of the 2004-2005 season, sponsored by the Albuquerque Urban Enhancement Trust Fund, we offer you seven works from the first half of the 18th century. Each is strongly attached to an extra-musical element. Five are vocal pieces, setting texts in English, German, and Italian. One of the two instrumental pieces is accompanied by a lengthy German program, while the other has descriptive subtitles in French. All but one of the seven works were composed for an informal domestic setting; the remaining one comes from the French court.

Johann Christoph Pepusch’s “Miranda” opens our program appropriately, as it’s sung in praise of music. Though Pepusch wasn’t English by birth, he left his native Germany in the late 17th century and eventually settled in London, making his living as a string player, teacher, and composer. “Miranda” is one of six cantatas he published in 1710. It’s in the standard Italianate format of the day, with recitatives preceding two da capo arias—meaning that the entire first section of each aria is repeated, usually with added ornamentation, at the end of its second section.

Later in his career, Pepusch fancied himself a rival of Handel, and as such he arranged music for and conducted the 1728 performance of the Beggar’s Opera, clearly a satire of Handel’s operatic style. Around the same time, Pepusch published some theoretical treatises, and he became fascinated by the wealth of earlier music that was being investigated at that time. He helped to found the Academy of Ancient Music, which played a significant role in that investigation.

Our three selections by George Frideric Handel, though in languages other than English, were intended for much the same domestic audience and performance venue as Pepusch’s cantata. Like Pepusch, Handel emigrated from Germany, arriving in London about 1710. Before that, though, he’d had the opportunity to travel and study in Italy. All things Italian were quite the rage in Europe and the British Isles by the early 18th century, and Handel earned a good income from his Italian operas produced in England. Even the repercussions of the Beggar’s Opera and other such satires didn’t affect him much right away, though he did gradually turn from operas to the more middle-class English oratorio.

Handel is justifiably best known for these operas and oratorios, as well as for his large-scale concertos and suites. The smaller works, including Italian cantatas and German songs, are often passed over lightly, yet many are delightful. Our three selections, all from the 1720s, are somewhat contemplative. “La bianca rosa,” like “Miranda” using recitatives and da capo arias, rather archly reminds us of the symbolism of the white rose: its purity, with thorns to keep it that way! The two German songs also cite flowers, but not as metaphors: they simply state that such beauty must have been created by God. Perhaps it’s surprising to modern people that devotional songs such as these might be sung alongside more obviously secular pieces.

Between the Pepusch and the Handel, you’ll hear two of the three movements of an oddity, a trio sonata with a detailed program appended. The composer, C. P. E. Bach, the second-oldest son of J. S. Bach, presumably wrote the program himself to accompany this 1749 piece. Each musical event parallels the twists and turns in a protracted argument between two persons, one of sanguine, or cheerful, temperamant and the other of melancholy, or gloomy, disposition. Cheerfulness finally gains the upper hand, but who can tell for how long?

This younger Bach toiled somewhat grudgingly for many years at the court of Frederick the Great in Potsdam, but he also took an active part in middle-class Berlin town life. Since Frederick’s tastes ran to the new, light, galant style, one can imagine that this intense piece never found favor with him, but it was probably welcomed into the homes of Berlin’s successful burghers.

The music of François Couperin, on the other hand, was always in favor at the French court, first under Louis XIV, then, after Louis’ death, under the regency. Indeed, many of Couperin’s pieces and their titles emerged directly from life at court, and they show the composer to have been an acute observer. In the 1720s, Couperin published fourteen sonatas, which he called concerts, each beginning with an introductory movement and continuing with dances and character pieces. Instrumentation was mostly left to the performers. Couperin tells us that his eighth concert is “in theatrical taste.” More specifically, the eleven movements, of which we’ll play five, recreate a divertissement, or entertainment, as if it were from a French stage work—that is, songs and dances without the singing and dancing.

The final piece on our program, “Celladon,” is a pastoral song to a text using the old euphemism of “dying” and “reviving” for sexual play. A native Englishman trained at the Chapel Royal, William Croft became well respected for his church music, but he also composed theatre music, instrumental music, and songs. “Celladon” comes from about 1702.

 

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