Academy of Ancient Music
Bach on Water
Saturday, April 28, 2007
8 PM, Synod Hall
Pavlo Beznosuik, Pauline Nobes, Iona Davies violin I
Rodolfo Richter, Pierre Joubert, Persephone Gibbs volin II
Trevor Jones, Rachel Byrt viola
Joseph Crouch, Imogen Seth Smith cello
Valerie Botwright double bass
Rachel Brown, Rachel Beckett flute
Frank de Bruine, Lars Henriksson oboe
Alastair Mitchell bassoon
William Carter theorbo
|Water Music Suite in G major, HWV 350|
Sonata a 5 in B-flat major HWV 288
Brandenburgh Concerto No. 4
in G major, BWV 1049
||George Frideric Handel|
George Frideric Handel
Johann Sebastian Bach
|Water Music Suite in C major, TWV 55:C5|
Concerto in B-flat major for organ Op. 4 No. 6 HWV 294
Water Music Suite in C-major
"Hamburger Ebb und Furth" TWV55:C31049
Sarabande 'Die schlafende thetis'
Bouree 'die erwachende Thetis
Loure 'Der verliebte Neptunus'
Gavotte 'Spielende Najaden'
Harlequinade 'Der schertzende Tritonus'
Tempete 'Der sturmende Aeolus'
Menuet 'Der angenehme Zephir'
Gigue 'Ebb und Fluth'
Canarie 'Die lustigen Bots Leute'
||Georg Philipp Telemann|
George Frideric Handel
Georg Philipp Telemann
Handel and Telemann Water Music
Nowadays the River Thames is one of the quietest spots in London, frequented only by seagulls and the occasional boat. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however, it would have been the busiest part of the city. Merchant ships arrived at London from the Atlantic and the English Channel, mooring alongside barges laden with coal from Newcastle. The small rowboats of the watermen would be everywhere, darting from bank to bank and ferrying passengers to larger ships. There was only one bridge across the Thames, so pedestrians wishing to cross would instead hail a waterman to ferry them over. Londoners seeking a day out would travel upstream, towards the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall and Chelsea. And the river would be filled with noise: the clinking of ships' rigging; the stowing of oars; the cries of boatmen as they touted for business; and the songs of watermen and their passengers. Foreign sailors would also bring their music: in July 1667 Samuel Pepys was delighted to hear 'a boat full of Spaniards' singing.
The Thames was the scene for displays of pomp, such as the Lord Mayor's Parade when a series of decorated barges would process along the river. Monarchs also used the river for ceremonial arrivals at Westminster or the Tower of London. And when George I wished to boost his profile among his subjects, the Thames was the natural choice of venue. On 17 July 1717 he held a water party, as reported in The Daily Courant:
'On Wednesday Evening, at about 8, the King took Water at Whitehall in an open Barge, wherein were also the Dutchess of Bolton, the Dutchess of Newcastle, the Countess of Godolphin, Madam Kilmanseck, and the Earl of Orkney. And went up the River towards Chelsea. Many other Barges with Persons of Quality attended, and so great a Number of Boats, that the whole River in a manner was cover'd; a City Company's Barge was employ'd for the Musick, wherein were 50 Instruments of all sorts, who play'd all the Way from Lambeth (while the Barges drove with the Tide without Rowing, as far as Chelsea) the finest Symphonies, compos'd express for this Occasion, by Mr. Hendel; which his Majesty liked so well, that he caus'd it to be plaid over three times in going and returning. At Eleven his Majesty went a-shore at Chelsea, where a Supper was prepar'd, and then there was another very fine Consort of Musick, which lasted till 2; after which, his Majesty came again into his Barge, and return'd the same Way, the Musick continuing to play till he landed.'
The event was arranged and paid for by Baron Kielmansegg, an amateur composer, with the musicians alone costing £150.
The sections of the Water Music that are best known today are the opulent movements in D major or F major. Using horns and trumpets, these movements would have rung out across the Thames, projecting the splendour of the royal party to the audiences on the banks and on the other boats that (as the newspaper report said) virtually covered the river. In tonight's concert, however, we perform the quieter, more intimate movements from the Water Music, those that make up the Suite in G HWV350. Here there are no brass instruments; instead Handel adds a flute and also a flageolet ('flauto piccolo') to the ensemble to pick out the melodic lines. The suite includes French dances such as a graceful minuet and a vigorous rigaudon; but the last two movements draw on the English tradition of country dances, with forthright rhythms and short phrases, similar to those in the collections of John Playford. It is possible that the Suite in G, on account of its intimate scoring, was played during the royal meal at Chelsea rather than on the water. But wherever it was performed, the attractive tunes and rhythms would appeal to both the royal party and the onlookers, thus fulfilling its political role to increase the king's public profile.
Georg Philipp Telemann also composed some Water Music—the Suite in C major 'Ebb und Fluth'—but it contrasts with Handel's in two ways. Firstly, it was written to be played on land, rather than from a barge; and secondly, Telemann evokes the movements of the waves and the sea breeze in the dance rhythms. Telemann wrote the piece for the centenary of the Admiralty in Hamburg, celebrated on 6 April 1723. Hamburg's importance and wealth derived from its maritime trade, and the city's Admiralty was vital for protecting and insuring the ships, and maintaining the navigation lights in the River Elbe. The centenary was marked by a banquet for merchants, sea captains and the city’s mayors and councillors. As part of the festivities, the ships fired their cannons and flew pennants. A local school teacher wrote a serenade that Telemann set to music, and Telemann also supplied this suite of instrumental music.
Telemann's suite follows the conventions of the French orchestral suite of Lully, but puts these to pictorial purpose to depict the watery subject. As would be expected, he begins with a French overture, which conventionally consists of a grand dotted-rhythm section followed by nimble imitative writing. Here the two sections are given extra-musical meaning, as a newspaper report of the time noted: 'first the stillness and gentle waves, and then [in the second section] the tumult of the sea'. A sequence of dance movements follows, representing several Classical deities associated with the sea. The sea-goddess Thetis is portrayed, first asleep in a yawning Sarabande, then awake in a lively bourree. The love-sick Neptune is shown in a minor-key Louree, with subtle and slurred rhythms; Neptune's son Triton, however, is in a playful mood, represented by energetic rhythmic figures and pizzicato strings in the Harlequinade. Two movements represent different deities of the winds: first the stormy Aeolus, then the benign Zephyr (in a gentle minuet). The gigue 'Ebb und Flut' evokes, in its rising and falling texture, the tides that played a crucial role in keeping the harbour channels navigable, and also flushed away Hamburg's sewage. Finally, the sailors themselves appear in their own dance, an unpretentious canarie. The whole suite combines local and mythological references with fashionable dance-forms. As the newspaper report of the occasion said: 'The splendid ideas revealed in this music were not merely charming and significant, but also remarkably effective, and uncommonly well suited to the occasion.'
Handel Sonata a 5
The Sonata a 5 in B flat major HWV 288 is Handel's earliest known independent orchestral piece, probably written in 1707 (when he was 22 years old and living in Italy). It is scored for solo violin, strings, oboe and continuo, and the solo violin part gains prominence as the piece progresses. The opening Andante starts with a graceful melody unfolding in the solo violin; this melody was a favourite of Handel's, for he re-used it in numerous works, including the Trio Sonata no.1 in A major (HWV 396), the Oboe Concerto no.2 in B flat major (HWV302), and the vocal works I will magnify thee (HWV 250) and Belshazzar (HWV 61). In its original incarnation, however, Handel lets it drop from prominence as the music becomes busier and more chromatic. The following Adagio maintains an interest in chromaticism, as the compact orchestral texture of the start gradually expands by chromatic steps. Then the last movement has long passages of virtuoso writing for the solo violin, with thundering interjections by the tutti; it is as close as Handel ever got to writing a violin concerto.
Telemann Concerto in D major for flute
Telemann's concertos often take a different approach to the usual concerto, being less a showpiece for the soloist, more a pleasurable exploration of varied sonorities. Rather than use the three-movement form of Vivaldi or Bach, Telemann preferred to use four movements; often there are hints of the French orchestral suite, notably in the prominent dance rhythms or the tendency to write all movements in the same key. Indeed, as Telemann himself observed in his 1718 autobiography, his concertos 'smell of France'.
Many of these features can be heard in Telemann's Concerto in D major for flute TWV51:D2. Not only is the piece in four movements; it begins with a bow to France in the form of a sprightly minuet. Subsequent movements include echo effects in the latest galant style, as well as a judicious use of thinner textures to complement the flute. Telemann himself was a flautist, having learned the instrument during his childhood alongside the violin, recorder, organ, oboe, chalameau (precursor to the clarinet) and bass trombone.
J.S. Bach Brandenburg concerto No.4
Johann Sebastian Bach's first major use of a keyboard soloist was in his Brandenburg Concertos. Many scholars have presumed that these concertos were written between 1717 and 1721, during Bach's time at the court of Cöthen. Here there was a small orchestra of virtuosi, whose skills would have been put to the test by Bach's solo writing. The concertos take their name, however, from the Margrave of Brandenburg, to whom Bach presented a copy of the six pieces in 1721.
In Concerto No.4 BWV1049 the solo parts are taken by two recorders and violin, and the harpsichordist is relegated to the role of continuo. In the outer movements the violin dominates, with lengthy episodes of breathtaking figuration and bariolage; in the central Andante, though, the partnership between the three soloists is more equal. The first movement is one of the longest Baroque concerto movements ever written; the opening ritornello alone would be a self-sufficient movement for some other composers. The concluding Presto avoids the dance rhythms usually found in a finale, instead offering an exhilarating fugue. Although the keyboardist does not have a solo part here, the piece arguably contains the germ of a keyboard concerto. Bach later reworked it for two recorders and harpsichord, putting the virtuosic violin line into the right hand of the harpsichord. With such innovations, Bach was unwittingly working in parallel with Handel, exploring the virtuoso role a keyboardist could take in ensemble music.
Handel Concerto for Keyboard Op.4 No.6
Handel turned to the organ concerto as a way to boost his flagging popularity in London during the 1730s. In previous decades Handel had won immense success by writing and performing Italian operas in England. But many Londoners resented the dominance of Italian musicians, and from 1728 The Beggar's Opera provided a more down-to-earth form of entertainment. In 1733 a rival opera company opened, the Opera of the Nobility, to which Handel lost most of his singers. Handel's opera company, now performing at Covent Garden, needed novelties to draw in audiences and to survive financially. Hence in the 1735 season he included performances of oratorios as well as operas, and he introduced the oratorios with organ concertos featuring himself as soloist.
Although some movements of these concertos were newly written, others were based on Handel's previous output. Concerto No.6 was written as a harp concerto, with recorders and muted strings as accompaniment, for Alexander's Feast in 1736. But the solo part can easily be adapted for the keyboard (as indeed is the case in an early manuscript copy), and with a louder solo instrument, the mutes on the strings are perhaps unnecessary.
The organ part in the Op.4 concertos uses few of the idiomatic features of the instrument: there is no pedal part, and on only one occasion does Handel specify the combination of stops to use. Hence the solo part could also be played on the harpsichord, as John Walsh pointed out in his publication of the Op.4 concertos in 1738.
Whichever instrument is used for the concertos, Handel favours a light texture where the keyboard plays on its own for long passages. The first movement of Concerto No.6 consists almost entirely of solo writing, framed by short orchestral passages. Handel may have chosen such textures because, despite the clear sound of the organ pipes, his small instrument was probably drowned out by the full orchestra. The many solo passages also give maximum opportunity to the keyboardist to improvise. In several places there are ad lib markings inviting ornamentation or elaboration. Handel's notation is not comprehensive: he has supplied the minimum for a performance, but there is much that the skilful soloist can add. Indeed, Handel may have wanted to keep some of the tricks of his own performances secret.
Program notes by Stephen Rose
The Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) is one of the world's first and foremost period-instrument orchestras. Concerts across six continents and over 250 recordings since its formation by Christopher Hogwood in 1973 demonstrate the AAM's pre-eminence in music of the Baroque and Classical periods.
In September 2006, Richard Egarr took up the post of Music Director, succeeding Hogwood who assumes the lifelong title of Emeritus Director. Egarr has already undertaken critically-acclaimed work with the AAM including a USA tour and the recording of Bach's harpsichord concertos. During his first season in the new role, Egarr will tour the UK, Europe and the USA, and continue the AAM's strong recording tradition with a series of Handel recordings for Harmonia Mundi USA (HMUSA), including the release of the Concerti Grossi Op.3.
The vitality of the AAM's music-making will continue to be fostered by a range of directors. Hogwood will conduct Handel operas in concert each year leading up to the Handel anniversary in 2009; the AAM’s Associate Conductor, Paul Goodwin, and the violinists Giuliano Carmignola and Pavlo Beznosiuk all lead projects this season; and the AAM continues to work with the choirs of King's College Cambridge (conducted by Stephen Cleobury), New College Oxford (Edward Higginbottom) and Polyphony (Stephen Layton). The renowned Bach specialist, Masaaki Suzuki, returns to direct the AAM in October 2007.
The orchestra's pioneering recordings under Hogwood for Decca’s L'Oiseau-Lyre label cover much of the Baroque and Classical orchestral canon — from concertos and symphonies to opera and oratorio. This includes the first recordings on period instruments of many works, such as Mozart's complete symphonies, and prize-winning opera recordings of Handel, Haydn and Mozart with soloists such as Emma Kirkby, Cecilia Bartoli and Joan Sutherland.
In addition to the numerous Decca releases, further projects have resulted in recordings for EMI, Chandos, Erato and Harmonia Mundi. These include discs of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Purcell with the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge; Pergolesi, English coronation music and Handel’s Messiah with the Choir of New College, Oxford; and several discs for Harmonia Mundi of music from Bach to Tavener under Goodwin, Egarr and Andrew Manze. In February 2006, the new Wigmore Hall Live label released a disc of Baroque double concertos.
The AAM is Orchestra-in-Residence at the University of Cambridge.
Richard Egarr is one of the most versatile musicians around. He has worked with all types of keyboards and performed repertoire ranging from fifteenth-century organ intabulations to Dussek and Chopin on early pianos, to Berg and Maxwell Davies on modern piano. He is in great demand as a soloist and chamber musician, as well as a conductor.
Richard Egarr enjoyed his musical training as a choirboy at York Minster, at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, and as organ scholar at Clare College, Cambridge. His study with Gustav Leonhardt further inspired his work in the field of historical performance.
As a conductor, Richard Egarr has presented a wide range of repertoire, from Bach’s Matthew Passion to John Taverner’s Ikon of Light. He has worked with specialised ensembles and modern orchestras alike, such as Tafelmusik Toronto, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra. He is director of the Amsterdam-based Academy of the Begijnhof. Recent productions include Handel's Esther, Acis & Galatea, Alcina and L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, many performances of the Messiah, and dramatic Handel Opera arias with soprano Emma Bell and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra; Haydn's The Creation, Purcell’s Fairy Queen, Bach’s B minor Mass and Telemann's St Matthew Passion, and Stokowski arrangements with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Richard will be directing Bach’s St Matthew Passion in 2007 with the Dutch Bach Society, and, in a staged version, at Glyndebourne. He will also conduct the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Flemish Radio Symphony Orchestra (in Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique). In April 2006 he was appointed as Christopher Hogwood's successor as Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, with effect from the 2006–2007 season.
As soloist, Richard has performed extensively in the major music festivals throughout Europe and Japan; his 2006 solo tour in the USA with Bach's Goldberg Variations received great critical acclaim. He has appeared many times as orchestral soloist with the Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra, with the Orchestra of the 18th Century as well as with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble.
In chamber music, Richard forms an 'unequalled duo for violin and keyboard' (Gramophone) with violinist Andrew Manze. They have toured Europe and North-America with music from the Stylus Phantasticus and late baroque. They have recently turned to later repertoire with performances of Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and Hubert Parry.
Richard Egarr records exclusively for Harmonia Mundi USA. His solo discs include works by Frescobaldi, Gibbons, Couperin, Purcell, J.S. Bach and the complete recording of the keyboard works of Johann Jakob Froberger. Recent recordings include Per Cembalo Solo (Gramophone Editor's Choice) and Bach’s Goldberg Variations. He has made numerous recordings with Andrew Manze, of violin sonatas by Rebel, Pandolfi (Gramophone Award), Handel (nominated for a Grammy Award), Bach, Corelli (Prix Caecilia), Biber’s Rosary Sonatas (Edison Award) and Mozart's Auernhammer Sonatas. With the Academy of Ancient Music he recorded the complete Bach harpsichord concertos. Upcoming issues include solo keyboard music by Mozart and Louis Couperin, Bach’s Wohltemperierte Clavier Book I, and (with the Academy of Ancient Music) Handel's Concerti Grossi Op.3 and the Organ Concerti Op.4 and 7.