Dates to be announced
Christ Church Cathedral
Krisztina Szabó, mezzo soprano
Marc Destrubé, violin
Kathryn Wiebe, violin
Natalie Mackie, viola da gamba
Christina Hutten, harpsichord & organ
The music of 17th century Germany was still highly influenced by the Protestant Reformation. Led by a new approach to writing for the church, composers explored the depths of their own beliefs through music. Drawing from new musical ideas and forms that emerged in other regions, such as the chaconne and passacaglia, the brilliant composers of our German Depth concert skillfully adapted them to their more profound local tastes.
Johann Christoph Bach (1642 - 1703)
Meine Freundin, du bist schön
Ciacona: Mein Freund ist mein
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1620 - 1680)
Sonatae unarum fidium: Sonata IV
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 - 1767)
Suite for 2 Violins, "Gulliver"
Reverie der Laputier, nebst ihren Aufweckern
Loure der gesitteten Houyhnbnms
Dieterich Buxtehude (1637 -1707)
Sonata in B-Flat Major, Op. 1 No. 4, BuxWV 255
Dieterich Buxtehude (1637 - 1707)
Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe, BuxWV 39
Samuel Friedrich Capricornus,
born Samuel Fredrich Bockshorn (1628 – 1665)
Ciaccona a 2 in d minor
COVID SAFETY PROTOCOLS:
The health and safety of our patrons, musicians, staff, and volunteers is of paramount concern. Please see below to read the steps we are taking to ensure everyone's safety while enjoying the concert:
Reduced audience numbers in socially distanced seats
Audience members must wear a mask inside the venue at all times
Doors will not be opened until 15 minutes before the performance
The venue will be sanitized before each performance
Johann Christoph Bach was the first cousin of the famous Johann Sebastian’s father, Johann Ambrosius Bach. In Johann Sebastian’s notes about his family, he called Johann Christoph a “profound composer,” and would have been familiar with his works through family gatherings and his early music instruction. He is not to be confused with Johann Sebastian’s son, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, another noteworthy composer in the Bach family. This Johann Christoph’s position of employment was in Eisenach as the harpsichordist at the court chapel of the Duke of Eisenach, as well as being the organist at St Georg Church.
His most famous work is his cantata, ’Meine Freundin, du bist schön,’ which has a stunning chaconne that takes up the majority of the first half. It is likely that Johann Christoph wrote the cantata for the wedding of his cousin, the twin brother of Johann Ambrosius, also named Johann Christoph Bach, in 1679. He had a close familial relationship with Johann Ambrosius, who often served as his copier, and included in Johann Ambrosius’ archived copy of the manuscript was a verbal commentary about the performance of this cantata describing moments in the music with basic stage directions. Although the text for the cantata is taken from Solomon’s ‘Song of Songs,’ Johann Ambrosius added a story that tells of a young couple searching for a quiet place to hide away on their wedding day. The chaconne movement musically depicts the young woman’s search through a beautiful garden, with the violin conjuring up images of the scenery and birdcalls, plus the young woman’s imagining of her imminent rendezvous. In later movements, the cantata concludes the story with a public celebration of the lovers’ union and a hymn of thanksgiving.
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer had a rather successful three-decade career as a violinist and composer at the imperial court in Vienna. Little is known about his early life or musical studies, but he is assumed to have trained in Vienna with earlier court musicians. His first appointment as a violinist came in 1649, and he was eventually appointed full Kapellmeister in 1679 after many petitions. Unfortunately, he died of the plague only a couple months after receiving the appointment.
Schmelzer wrote many suites and dances for court functions, as well as various masses, songs and sonatas. His ‘Sonatae unarum fidium’ of 1664 makes its claim to history as being the first set of sonatas for violin published by a German-speaking composer. Although later compositions would favour two melody instruments, this set of sonatas for solo violin and basso continuo is much more virtuosic for the violinist. Schmelzer’s use of rapid scales and arpeggios was likely influenced by his colleagues in Vienna, the Italian composers Antonio Bertali and Marco Uccellini.
Georg Philipp Telemann’s ‘Gulliver Suite’ is a musical exploration of Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’ Swift published the story in 1726 under the title “Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts” and it was soon translated into several languages, including German. Telemann published his ‘Gulliver Suite’ two years later as part of his monthly publication ‘Der getreue Musik-Meister’ (The Steadfast Music Teacher). This was the first German music periodical, and was aimed at spreading his compositions for domestic purposes. The publication would include many of his own works, but also pieces by J.S. Bach, Zelenka and Pisendel. He purposefully avoided extremes of technical difficulty, and began incorporating German language tempo markings in order to make his music more accessible.
Telemann’s use of the word “suite” indicates a French inspiration to the form of the work. This influence is confirmed by the programmatic nature of the piece, which had been a growing trend in France at the time. Following a brief introduction, Telemann musically depicts each of Swift’s four parts of Gulliver’s adventures. The first story involves the land of the six-inch Lilliputians. Telemann plays with this idea by scoring this sprightly chaconne in 3/32, leading to the visual joke of tiny 128th notes in the violin parts. The second tale of the giant Brobdingnagian people is a clumsy gigue in a humorously contrasted string of whole notes in a 24/1 time signature. The Laputians are impractical intellectuals who live in the clouds, and have hired “flappers” to occasionally knock them back into reality. Telemann’s movement titled “reverie” makes reference to their dream-like state. The fourth land Gulliver visits is an island shared by Houyhnhnms and Yahoos. Each of these is represented by one of the violins, to obvious contrast. The majestic and rational horses, the Houyhnhnms, get a graceful French Loure, and the unwieldy, ape-like Yahoos are depicted in a scampering Wild Dance.
The ‘Sonata in B-Flat Major’ comes from the first of Dieterich Buxtehude’s only two publications of chamber music. He may have actually perceived them as two volumes of the same unit, as they were written in close succession, and largely complement each other. Both are a series of seven sonatas for violin, viola da gamba, and continuo. Together, they complete a full series of sonatas for the major and minor keys of a diatonic scale in F. These works were likely not part of his responsibilities as an organist, so the inspiration to publish some compositions as a free musician likely came from Buxtehude’s friend, composer Johann Adam Reincken, who had published a similar series a few years prior.
These opuses were published in 1694 and 1696 in Hamburg, the largest city near Buxtehude’s famous post in Lübeck and where he would often visit his friend Reincken and other musical colleagues. He had gained the position of organist and Werkmeister at the church in Lübeck in 1668, and this was the location to which Bach, Handel, and Pachelbel all made expeditions to in the early 18th century. The job also came with the requirement of marrying the predecessor’s daughter. So as Buxtehude married Anna Margarethe Tunder, his successor, J.C. Schieferdecker, married Anna Margreta Buxtehude on 5 September 1707, a few months after Dieterich Buxtehude’s death.
Buxtehude’s sonatas did not take the standardized form that had been established in Italy, and could range from 2 to 14 movements that could either be tonally closed or flow together. The ‘Sonata in B-Flat Major’ may have existed in an earlier version that ended in a 4-movement suite. In the published version it keeps the first two sections, a Vivace-Allegro and a Lento-Allegro. The first Vivace is a set of variations over an ostinato that lasts three and a half measures, repeated in the continuo a total of 32 times. It then moves into a fast Allegro in triple rhythms that feels close to a gigue and features some of the most virtuosic violin passages in all of Buxtehude’s sonatas. The Lento contrasts in a minor key that uses long notes in a more predictable counterpoint before shifting into another Allegro section that features some unusual (for Buxtehude) double stops for the violin.
In contrast to his sonata, Buxtehude’s cantata, 'Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe,' uses a rather simple six-note ground bass. His vocal works were rarely dated, but were principally used in the annual Abendmusiken concerts that would take place on Sunday evenings during Advent at the Marienkirche in Lübeck. The text for the cantata is from Psalm 73 vv 25-26, and begins as, “Lord, whom have I in heaven but you?”
Samuel Capricornus, born Samuel Friedrich Bockshorn, was a Bohemian composer and music teacher. His family fled into Hungary to escape the counter-reformation when he was young. His various studies took him to Silesia and Strasburg, and then to the court of Ferdinand III in Vienna in 1649. He wrote the ‘Ciaccona’ while he was working as the Kapellmeister in Stuttgart, where he held the position from 1657 until his death in 1665.
Capricornus was prolific during his short career, writing over 400 works which were frequently copied and printed. Many of his secular works have since been lost, but his sacred music stands as an important link between the works of Heinrich Schütz and J.S. Bach. His style is rather Italianate, likely being influenced by Valentini and Bertali from his time in Vienna. The ‘Ciaccona in D minor’ is unique for its irregular resolution of the ostinato bass.
- Notes by Paul Winkelmans
Please note that there will be no Festival Passes available this year.
Tickets are not yet available for purchase. Tickets will be available to purchase when the Festival dates are announced.
GETTING TO THE CATHEDRAL
The Cathedral is located on Quadra Street at Rockland Avenue.
Street parking is available on Quadra Street, Burdett Avenue, and Rockland Avenue, as well as at the south entrance to the Cathedral off Burdett.