Reality Check: The German Baroque

As we look forward to the magnificent culmination of the Bath Recitals 2018 Baroque Series on 22 December with German Christmas Baroque, we discover that the whole concept of the ‘German Baroque’ is actually a bit of a misnomer…

In the 17th-18th centuries Germany as the country we recognise today did not exist. Instead there was a collection of numerous smaller independent predominantly German speaking states and territories comprising of parts of the Holy Roman Empire. By the mid 18th century there were approximately 1,800 of these tiny principalities and territories:

Map of the Holy Roman Empire 1648
Map of the Holy Roman Empire 1648

After the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, the German rulers of the Holy Roman Empire were able to choose either Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism or the Reformed faith as their official religion which helped establish relative peace for the next six decades. This enabled them to develop a classical culture following the Enlightenment with world class leaders in philosophy with the likes of Leibniz and Kant, literature with Goethe and Schiller, and music with Bach and Beethoven.

The Rococo Kaisersaal in Würzburg
The Rococo Kaisersaal in Würzburg

Beginning in 17th century Rome, the exuberant Baroque style of architecture, art and music spread rapidly through the Catholic and even Lutheran-leaning lands across Europe. From 1680 to 1750, many highly ornate cathedrals, abbeys, and pilgrimage churches were built in central Europe, Bavaria and Austria. Some of these were in the even more flamboyant Rococo style with many of the Germanic Princes engaging Italian-trained architects to construct them.

But if ‘Germany’ is a misnomer, then the term ‘Baroque’ in music is certainly one as well. The uses of the term ‘baroque’ was originally as a criticism of the music of the period. For example, the musician, noted composer and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau complained in 1768 that ‘Baroque music is that in which the harmony is confused, and loaded with modulations and dissonances.’ 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The common use of the term to simply define music of the period began only in 1919, by Curt Sachs and it was not until 1940 that it was first used in English in an article published by Manfred Bukofzer.

Nevertheless, this was a period of great musical experimentation and innovation. It could be said that further to the south the Italians such as Vivaldi were generally striving for ‘tunes you can hang your hat on’ with melodies which you might find yourself humming for weeks afterward.

By contrast the German composers were perhaps a little more abstract in their melody writing with even the vocal lines sounding as though they could equally be played  successfully on an instrument. But the Germans’ strongest suit was their mastery of counterpoint – no less so than with Bach himself – the master of fugues, canons and with consummate technical control of large-scale structures for instruments and vocalists.

The authentic voices and instrumentalists of Music Poetica make a welcome return to Bath for this concert. This glorious seasonal celebration of the wonder of a Baroque Christmas with music from 17th and 18th century Germany will form the culmination of Bath Recital’s 2018 Baroque Season.

Musica Poetica in performance at Bath Recitals earlier this year
Musica Poetica in performance at Bath Recitals earlier this year

“An early-instrument ensemble of exceptional quality”

Miranda Jackson – Opera Brittanica

German Christmas Baroque celebrates the music of JS Bach in a programme including some of his most famous cantatas and chorales. In addition will enjoy some Christmas favourites by some of the composers who inspired him including Praetorius, Buxtehude and Schütz.

Never Such Innocence

The next event from Bath Recitals brings a highly acclaimed and moving narrative recital of words and music from the First World War delivered by professional actor Christopher Kent and pianist Gamal Khamis…

Chris and Gamal in Never Such Innocence
Chris and Gamal in Never Such Innocence

‘A very special, moving and immensely absorbing production’

Actor Christopher Kent and pianist Gamal Khamis look back at the writing and music that emerged from the period, juxtaposing the words of writers such as Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas, Siegfried Sassoon and Vera Brittain with music by composers including Elgar, Ravel, Debussy and Ivor Gurney.

In a moving and thought-provoking sequence, they also trace the individual story of nineteen-year-old conscript Private Percy O’Key through his real-life letters and diaries. It is a compelling journey from innocence to loss, told with unflinching clarity and compassion.

‘Beautifully nuanced show – tender, moving, angry”

Christopher Kent and Gamal Khamis

Christopher Kent has appeared on stage, screen and radio in a wide range of roles from Shakespeare to contemporary drama. London West End appearances include Cyrano de Bergerac with Robert Lindsay and The Government Inspector with Timothy Spall. Chris is also one of the UK’s best known voiceover actors.

Gamal Khamis studied at the Royal College of Music and has appeared at most major concert halls in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada, and on BBC Radio 3 and Dutch radio. He has worked with leading composers including Thomas Adès and Mark Anthony Turnage and is a Concordia Foundation Artist, a Park Lane Group Artist and a member of the Lipatti Piano Quartet.

THE RECITAL SERIES

Never Such Innocence

Saturday 3 November 7.30pm
St Michael’s Church, Broad Street, Bath BA1

Tickets are just £15 – £16

With generous support from The Carne Trust

Carnevale String Trio

Meet the Carnevale

The Carnevale is heading to town on 29 September with a feast of music for String Trio. Let’s find out more about the three performers…

Formed of international award-winning musicians, the Carnevale String Trio met at the Royal College of Music in 2015 and quickly became noted for the intensity of their performances and variety of repertoire ranging from Early Classical to Post Romantic and Contemporary. This energetic string trio has received enthusiastic responses from audiences and musicians across the UK with performances ranging from St James’s Piccadilly and St Martin –in-the-Fields to the Ukrainian Cathedral Hall and the Chobham Festival.

‘Carnevale feels like an equilateral triangle: technically and musically balanced and respectful of the other two sides’ 

Andrew Maddox: Concerts in the West

Kamila Bydlowska – violin

Polish violinist Kamila Bydlowska studied at the Royal College of Music in London and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, USA. She has broadcast and performed across the world and is now much in demand as a concerto soloist. Collaborations with artists from other genres brought her to play at the iTunes Festival, the Cannes Midem Festival and the Green Note Jazz Club in London.

Jenny Lewisohn – viola

British violist Jenny Lewisohn completed her studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2014. She has performed with a rich variety of distinguished artists and in high profile venues from Europe to South America. Jenny is a member of the award-winning Hieronymus Quartet and a member of the award-winning Lipatti Piano Quartet. She also frequently collaborates with the Aurora Orchestra and Sinfonia Cymru amongst many others.

Timothée Botbol – cello

Starting his early musical education in Geneva, Swiss cellist Timothée Botbol progressed to the Lausanne Haute École de Musique and the Royal College. As a soloist, he has given performances across Europe and is principal cellist of Ensemble Collegium.

As an orchestral musician, Timothée has performed with many distinguished European orchestras and ensembles and is currently sub-principal cellist with Welsh National Opera.

‘Stylish and highly accomplished’ 

Dorset Echo

THE RECITAL SERIES

Carnevale String Trio

Saturday 29 September

J.S.Bach Goldberg Variations BWV 988 (excerpts)
Dohnanyi Serenade in C Major Op.10
Gideon Klein String Trio
Beethoven String Trio No.5 in C Minor Op.9 No.3

Tickets are just £15 – £16

With generous support from The Carne Trust

A Trio in Four Parts

The talented violinist, violist and cellist making up the Carnevale String Trio bring a programme of four of the most exciting pieces written for this ensemble by some of the greatest composers  from the baroque to the present…

Although the String Trio never quite managed to match the popularity of the String Quartet, its origins date back earlier to the Baroque Trio Sonata – often with two violins and a bass instrument or ‘continuo’. By the 18th century the string trio scored for violin, viola and cello came to be more usual.

JS Bach’s Goldberg Variations were originally written for the harpsichord in 1741 for Johann Gottlieb Goldberg – a rather exceptionally talented 14-year-old from Danzig in Poland. Many of the 30 variations are written in three ‘voices’ so lend themselves particularly well to be played by three individual instruments and have been transcribed for string trio by Dmitry Sitkovetsk

Caption: Excerpt from Bach’s Goldberg Variation no.21 showing the three ‘voices’

The Hungarian composer Ernö Dohnányi wrote his delightful five-movement Serenade in C Major in 1902 ahead of its premieré in Vienna. Yet it sounds like something from an earlier age capturing more of the spirit of the 18th century. It is fair to say that Dohnanyi intentionally chose to produce an updated version of the classical serenade for string trio and based his work on Beethoven’s Op.8 Serenade.

Carnevale feels like an equilateral triangle: technically and musically balanced and respectful of the other two sides’ 

Andrew Maddox: Concerts in the West

Gideon Klein may not be an immediately recognisable name yet this Czech pianist and composer was to become the organiser of cultural life in Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. 

Following the occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 Klein was forced to abort his university studies, but the following year he was offered a scholarship to London’s Royal Academy of Music.

However anti-Jewish legislation prevented his emigration and he was deported initially to the Terezín concentration camp – one of the few in which artistic activity was eventually permitted by Nazis on any scale, if only to deceive the broader public as to their real intentions. His works, including this poignant and tuneful String Trio were fortunately saved by his sister after his tragic death in 1945.

Beethoven’s String Trio in C Minor op 9 no. 3 was published in Vienna in 1799 as part of a set of Trios dedicated to his patron Count Johann Geog von Browne and was a significant milestone in the 28-year-old Beethoven’s development as a composer. At the time he regarded the trios as his best compositions yet and lead the way for his upcoming string quartets, which became the leading genre among his chamber music compositions.

Carnevale String Trio

THE RECITAL SERIES

Carnevale String Trio

Saturday 29 September

JS Bach          Goldberg Variations (excerpts)

Dohnanyi        Serenade in C Major

Gideon Klein  String Trio

Beethoven      String Trio in C Minor op 9 no. 3

All our concerts now take place in the beautiful and comfortable setting of St Michael’s church in Broad Street. 

Tickets are just £15 – £16

Supported by the Carne Trust

Meet the Leader: Bojan Čičić

One of today’s leading exponents of the baroque violin – Bojan Čičić – will be one of the stars of the show on 25 August with Grand Baroque. Let’s find out more about the leader of the Oxford Bach Soloists…

Bojan is currently leading the Academy of Ancient Music but he has also been in demand as a guest leader and soloists with many of the big names across Europe including appearances with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the King’s Consort and the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

Bojan has worked closely with conductors such as Frans Brüggen, Trevor Pinnock and Richard Egarr. Bojan has also featured as a leader on numerous recordings with Florilegium, La Nuova Musica, and the Arcangelo Consort. His recording of J.S. Bach’s Concerto for two violins with Rachel Podger was recently named the best available recording by BBC Music Magazine.

Bojan’s own group, The Illyria Consort, recently made their first disc with Delphian Records with a groundbreaking recording of Carbonelli’s virtuosic violin sonatas. The Illyria Consort explores rare repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries from the Venetian Republic and Habsburg Empire, and have performed at the Utrecht Early Music Festival, the Korkyra Baroque Festival, Festival Laus Polyphoniae, and at the Festival de Sablé.

Future projects include directing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the European Union Baroque Orchestra and performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the Instruments of Time and Truth.

He is also an expert teacher with a role as Professor of Baroque Violin at the Royal College of Music where he is passionate about training the next generation of instrumentalists in historically-informed playing styles.

THE BAROQUE SERIES

Oxford Bach Soloists on 25 August will be directed by Tom Hammond-Davies and led by Bojan Čičić. Grand Baroque will feature some of the finest masterpieces from the Baroque period including some of the coronation anthems Handel wrote for King George II and his magnificent Dettingen Te Deum first performed in 1743 in the Chapel Royal of  St James’s Palace, London in the presence of King George II in celebration of the glorious defeat of the French at Dettingen.

G.F Handel

Coronation Anthem: My heart is Inditing
Arias from:
   Xerxes Ombré mai fu
   Alexander’s Feast Revenge, Timotheus cries
   Samson Let the bright seraphim
   Samson Let thy celestial concerts all unite
   Jeptha Waft her, angels, through the skies
Coronation Anthem Zadok the Priest
Dettingen Te Deum

Mayor of Bath thanks Bath Recitals

Bath Recitals Front Row members and guests attended a Civic Reception at Bath’s Guildhall at the invitation of The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Bath, Cllr Ian Gilchrist.

The Mayor has made music the theme of his year in office and was delighted to thank Bath Recitals for their role in the cultural life of the city.

The event took place in one of the city’s most prestigious venues, the Mayor’s Parlour which is a treasure-house of 800 years of Bath’s history. The two maces in a glass cabinet are still used at official occasions and are valued at over half a million pounds each.

Wearing the chain of office symbolising various emblems of status and authority and valued at over £100,000, Ian Gilchrist is the 790th Mayor of Bath – the first was in the year 1230. It is now a non-political role for a one year term of office.

Also in attendance was Tom Hammond Davies, Director of Oxford Bach Soloists who recently performed as part of the Baroque series with English Baroque and will be returning later in the year with Grand Baroque.

Tom Hammond-Davies with the Mayor of Bath

Tom Hammond-Davies with the Mayor of Bath

Bath Recitals Baroque Series

Bath Recitals presents some of the finest European Baroque music in a series of four concerts this year from England, Italy and Germany as part of its 2018 Baroque Season. Find out more…

The Baroque Age defines the historical period from approximately 1600 to 1750 which saw the creation of some of the greatest music ever written. From Bach to Handel and from Purcell to Vivaldi, Baroque music mirrored the changing tastes in fashion, literature, architecture and interior design. The word Baroque actually comes from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning Misshapen Pearl.

THE BAROQUE SERIES

English Spring Baroque
Saturday 14 April

We open with the return of the fantastic Oxford Bach Soloists and music from the English courts. The King’s Musick: Restoration Music from the Chapel Royal will include Purcell’s celebration for the coronation of James II, his Birthday Ode for Queen Mary II and one of Handel’s Coronation Anthems for George II.

Italian Baroque
Saturday 30 June

Musica Poetica’s glittering June concert celebrates the majesty and opulence of the Italian Baroque. Alongside music by Frescobaldi, Cozzolani and Caccini, a particular highlight will be a compete performance of Carissimi’s Jeptha.

Grand Baroque
Saturday 25 August

Oxford Bach Soloists transport us to the opulence and grandeur of the Baroque with Handel’s four coronation anthems for King George II and his magnificent Dettingen Te Deum composed to celebrate the glorious defeat of the French at Dettingen.

German Christmas Baroque
Saturday 22 December

Bath Recitals culminates the season with a glorious Christmas celebration with Musica Poetica and a celebration of the wonder of a Baroque Christmas of the 17th and 18th century Germany.


Running alongside our Baroque Series is our fantastic Recital Series featuring some of the finest rising stars of their generation:

Debut
Love, Youth and Mischief
Saturday 28 July *Note change of date*

 

Carnevale String Trio
Saturday 29 September

 

Never Such Innocence
Saturday 3 November

 

Tickets at £15 – £16 are available now.

All our concerts now take place in the beautiful and comfortable setting of St Michael’s church in Broad Street.

So book up for 2018 now.

A Musical Feast for 2018

The snow has melted, it’s getting warmer and spring is finally on the way. And with a full program of wonderful concerts from Bath Recitals there’s plenty to look forward to in 2018…

This year we are presenting two distinct strands with a magnificent Baroque Series featuring the welcome return of the fantastic Oxford Bach Soloists and Musica Poetica. Alongside this will run the Recital Series with concerts from the world of opera, a classical string trio and a fascinating event commemorating World War I.

So here is what is coming up in 2018…

 

Oxford Bach Soloists

The King’s Musick

Bath Recitals launches a Baroque Season of concerts for 2018 on 14 April at St Michael’s Church in Broad Street with a welcome return from the Oxford Bach Soloists and a spectacular evening of Baroque music from the English courts…

Following their recent Christmas Baroque sell-out concert, English Spring Baroque will bring us music by composers such as Henry Purcell and Mathew Cooke alongside some favourites including Handel’s Anthem for the coronation of George II Let thy hand be strengthened as well as John Blow’s uplifting Ode for the coronation of James II Behold O God, our Defender.

The Old Palace of Whitehall by Hendrik Danckerts

The Old Palace of Whitehall by Hendrik Danckerts

The Orchestra of the Oxford Bach Soloists play on period instruments while the singers are from the the next generation of young vocalists.

Oxford Bach Soloists

The Oxford Bach Soloists are conducted by one of the most versatile conductors of his generation, multiple award-winning choral director, Tom Hammond-Davies.

Amongst his many accolades, Tom was awarded 1st prize in the Birmingham Conservatoire Sir Michael Beech Conducting Award and 1st prize in the Three Choirs Festival Conducting Award.

ENGLISH SPRING BAROQUE

Saturday 14 April 7.30pm
St Michael’s Church, Broad Street, Bath

Tickets at £15 – £16 are available now.

Henry ‘Captain’ Cook O Lord, thou hast searched me out
Pelham Humphrey By the Waters of Babylon
Matthew Locke The Oxford Ode
Henry Purcell Remember not, Lord our Offences
John Blow Ode for the coronation of James II Behold O God, our Defender
George Handel Anthem for the coronation of George II Let thy hand be strengthened
Henry Purcell Dido and Aeneus ( excerpts)
Carbonelli Violin Sonata
Henry Purcell O dive custos & Thou knowest, Lord
Henry Purcell Birthday Ode for Queen Mary Come ye Sons of Art (excerpts)

Join us for Christmas Baroque

Our 2017 season draws to a close on 16 December with a real Christmas feast in the splendid surroundings of St Michael’s Church in Broad Street for a concert of Christmas Baroque favourites performed by the Oxford Bach Soloists conducted by Tom Hammond-Davies.

St Michael’s Church in Broad Street is a fantastic venue for this event. Its recent restoration which has opened up this historic building into a spacious, comfortable and beautiful space – just perfect a memorable evening of wonderful music presented on period instruments by an orchestra and singers of the highest calibre.

St Michael's church

St Michael’s Church

In this vibrant programme we shall have excerpts from Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Magnificat and Purcell’s Behold, I bring you glad tidings as well as the delightful Es ist ein Ros entsprungen by Praetorius and Bach’s famous Air on a G string.

‘Absolutely perfect in every way’
– Oxford Mail

All this will be performed by ‘top-drawer’ instrumentalists and singers from the next generation of young soloists including:

Tom Hammond-Davies

Multiple award-winning choral director Tom Hammond-Davies is one of the most versatile conductors of his generation. Founder and Artistic Director of the Blenheim Singers and of the Oxford Bach Soloists, whose mission is to perform the complete vocal works of JS Bach over the next 12 years in Oxford.

Bojan Čičić

Violinist Bojan Čičić will lead the orchestra and perform as soloist in Corelli’s magnificent Christmas Concerto. Bojan is Director and Soloist with the Academy of Ancient Music, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the King’s Consort. He is also Professor of Baroque Violin at the Royal College of Music. His latest CD won 5 star reviews from The Guardian, BBC Radio 3 Record Review and Classical Music.

Esther Brazil

Among the fabulous line up of singers are mezzo-soprano Esther Brazil sings with John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists as well as the Dunedin Consort. And soprano Elspeth Piggott is a member and regular soloist with The Sixteen and I Fagiolini.

William Purefoy

Countertenor William Purefoy who performs in concerts, recitals and operas internationally following his 2008 debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall. He is a regular soloist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Hanover Band, The English Concert and the The Sixteen.

‘Artistic perfection … choral sound at its best!’
– President of the Bavarian Music Council

CHRISTMAS BAROQUE

Saturday 16 December 2017 7.30pm
St Michael’s Church, Broad Street, Bath

Programme

Corelli Christmas Concerto
Handel Messiah (excepts)
Pretorious Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
Bach Magnificat (excepts)
Purcell Behold, I bring you glad tidings
Bach Air on a G string BWV 1068
Bach Wachet auf (excerpts)