Showing posts with label Magnificat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magnificat. Show all posts

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Fine show; Ryan, Barton standouts

City Choir Dunedin. Photo credit Ian Thomson
Theresienmesse & Magnificat
Sunday 3 July 2016, Dunedin Town Hall

Two 18th-century choral works performed on Sunday afternoon by City Choir Dunedin under the direction of David Burchell with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra gave the 85-strong group and four soloists a unique opportunity to shine.

The first half of the programme, C.P.E. Bach's Magnificat in D Major, is a slightly dated work, albeit one that the composer always regarded highly.

Tenor James Adams and bass Matthew Landreth seemed slightly tentative in this work; not so soprano Rebecca Ryan, substituting for Lois Johnston, who was unwell. Ryan turned in such a polished performance that it was difficult to believe that she had been called only a day earlier.

The pick of the soloists, though, was alto Claire Barton, whose duo with Adam seemed to lift his game, and her solo Suscepit Israel was a first-half highlight.

After the interval came Franz Joseph Haydn's Mass No. 12, Theresienmesse, the better of the two works. In it, the soloists work in unison with the choir rather than delivering long solos. This is an attractive technique, which has contributed to the popularity of the work since its debut in 1799.

Possibly because of this interweaving, the soloists all seemed more comfortable than in the Bach, with Ryan and Barton especially pleasing.

Throughout Theresienmesse, the choir gave a sterling performance, the hours of rehearsal showing in polished delivery.

The big disappointment was the thin attendance. The Dunedin Town Hall's acoustics work best with a larger audience and the concert would have been even better had more people made the effort to attend.

Review by Gillian Vine, The Star 7 July 2016.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Theresienmesse & Magnificat in July


Theresienmesse & Magnificat

Sunday 3 July 3:00 pm
Dunedin Town Hall


DAVID BURCHELL, conductor
CITY CHOIR DUNEDIN
DUNEDIN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Soloists: Rebecca Ryan (soprano), Claire Barton (mezzo-soprano), James Adams (tenor), Matthew Landreth (bass)

FJ Haydn: Theresienmesse
CPE Bach: Magnificat

Haydn's Theresienmesse was composed late in his life, after his final ‘London’ symphonies, and a year after he completed both The Creation and the Missa in Angustiis or ‘Nelson Mass’, and it possesses similar qualities of tunefulness, variety, rhythmic energy, contrapuntal skill and colourful orchestration. It is a joyful festive work, written to celebrate the name-day of the wife of his patron Prince Esterhazy, and to demonstrate the high status of the Prince’s court at a time when Haydn was at the peak of his fame and creative powers.

Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bachʼs Magnificat is an extended setting of the Hymn of Mary, which is an integral part of the service of Vespers in both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran church. Composed for a festal occasion, this is an exuberant and tuneful work, with extended virtuosic and dramatic arias for each of the four soloists. It was his first major choral work, and was clearly inspired by his father Johann Sebastian’s setting of the same text; Bach returned to the work towards the end of his life, enhancing the orchestration and performing it several times.

Tickets are now on sale!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Step Bach in Time



The Bach Magnificat, which the City of Dunedin Choir will sing on March 30, is at the centre of an 800-year tradition of music at St Thomas Church, Leipzig, where Bach spent almost the last 30 years of his life and where his body lies to this day.

The Magnificat was one of the pieces he wrote in his first year as cantor of the school attached to the church – St Thomas School, one of the oldest schools in the world (founded 1212).

Among his teaching and performance responsibilities – including choirmaster and teaching Latin at St Thomas School – his duties also included composition: cantatas for church services every Sunday and other holy days in the church calendar, as well as masses and motets for special occasions.

The Latin Magnificat was required to be sung at least three times a year, on Christmas Day, Easter Sunday and Whitsunday.

He wrote a version of the Magnificat (BWV243) – the only one which still exists – in 1723, his first year in his new Leipzig post.

Considering the complexity of this music – and that he wrote the St John Passion shortly afterwards – we can only wonder at the musical skill of the choir, and particularly the nine-year-old boys who sang the high (treble) parts singing such difficult music with little rehearsal time.

Bach and his family lived in an upstairs apartment at the boarding school. After playing and conducting at church on Sunday (with services often three to four hours), Johann Sebastian would start work on the music for the following week, often finishing within a few days. The music copyists would come to his apartment on the Wednesday afternoon and then he would start rehearsals for the next Sunday.

The choir boys were chosen from throughout the region by scholarship exams. The successful few would receive food, board and education in Leipzig, a large university town in eastern Germany (in Bach’s time, about 30,000 population and a major centre of music) until, aged 20, they left the school with a small sum of money to help pay for their further education.

The school, church and choir continues the musical tradition today, 800 years after its founding, having survived the Reformation (Martin Luther nailed his theses to the church door at Wittenberg, less than 70km north of Leipzig, in 1516), the unification of Germany in 1871, wars, Nazism, Communism and the re-unification of Germany after 1990. The Nazi and subsequent Communist regimes put great value on singing and used the church choir as a showpiece, touring the choir through Eastern and Western Europe. The school’s musical tradition was maintained and practice continued through revolution and war. Even during World War 2, when the boys were boarded outside the town, they continued to sing every Sunday in the church, where Bach’s remains are buried.

He originally wrote the Magnificat in E flat (BWV243a) for Christmas 1723 and reworked it in D major for Easter 10 years later, the form we sing today.

The Magnificat is notable for its brevity – at slightly less than 600 bars, it is considerably shorter than the Credo from Bach’s Mass in B Minor, which the City of Dunedin Choir sang last year. With the exception of the words “omnes generationes” (every generation), which receive particular treatment, each of the 12 movements represents a stanza of St Luke’s narrative of the conversation between Jesus’ mother-to-be Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. Both are pregnant – Elizabeth with the future John the Baptist and Mary somewhat surprisingly.

Elizabeth praises Mary for maintaining her faith and Mary responds: “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit doth rejoice in God my saviour… for behold from henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed”. The Magnificat is based on these words.

By Scott Blackwell

Don't miss City of Dunedin Choir's concert "Beauty of Baroque" where Bach's Magnificat will be the featured work. Friday 30 March, 7:30 pm in Knox Church, George Street, Dunedin

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Magnificat

Statue of Mary and Elizabeth at the Church of the
Visitation at Ein Kerem in Israel, on the site where the
meeting between Mary and Elizabeth is said to have taken
place, with Mary singing her song of praise.
Johann Sebastian Bach had risen to the high point of his musical career when he was appointed Cantor of the Thomasschule at St Thomas Church in Leipzig in 1723, aged 38 – the position he held for 27 years, until his death.

Among his myriad teaching and performance responsibilities – including choirmaster and teaching Latin at St Thomas School, one of the oldest schools in the world (founded 1212) – his duties also included composition: cantatas for church services every Sunday and other holy days in the church calendar, as well as masses and motets for special occasions.

The Latin Magnificat was required to be sung at least three times a year, at Christmas Day, Easter Sunday and Whitsunday. Considering he was required to produce these pieces at least three times a year for almost 30 years, it’s surprising then that only one Magnificat still exists – the BWV243 in D major completed in 1733.

He originally wrote the Magnificat in E flat (BWV243a) for Christmas 1723 and reworked it in D major 10 years later, the form we sing today, but this time for use at Easter.

The Magnificat is notable for its brevity – at slightly less than 600 bars, it is considerably shorter than the Credo from Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

With the exception of the words “omnes generationes” From the Archives (every generation), which receive particular treatment, each of the 12 movements represents a stanza of St Luke’s narrative of the conversation between Jesus’ mother Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. Both are pregnant – Elizabeth with the future John the Baptist and Mary somewhat surprisingly.

Elizabeth praises Mary for her faith and Mary sings the Magnificat in response: “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit doth rejoice in God my saviour… for behold from henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed”. What a remarkable statement from a girl in her position, pregnant, vulnerable and liable to be punished or even stoned.

Half of the 12 movements in the Magnificat are choruses and the others for solo voices, including a rare alto-tenor duet.

We’ve all been intrigued during practice by the possibility of hidden numerological significance in the “omnes generationes” (No. 4 p. 17), perhaps relating to the numerological value of Bach’s name, or the 41 entries of that phrase coinciding with the generations of Jesus’ ancestry. Others postulate this is nonsense as the phrase (“all generations shall call me blessed”) clearly refers to future generations, not past.

Bach often included clever numerical conundrums so we can’t rule it out.

By Scott Blackwell


Don't miss City of Dunedin Choir's concert "Beauty of Baroque" where Bach's Magnificat will be the featured work. Friday 30 March, 7:30 pm in Knox Church, George Street, Dunedin