Sunday, July 15, 2012

ABS Festival: The Leipzig Masters

Saturday night's ABS Festival concert presented Bach along with music of 3 of his contemporaries. The program began with a cantata by Johann Kuhnau, who was Bach's predecessor at Thomaskirche. This was followed by a Magnificat in C by Christoph Graupner, who was the Leipzig Town Council's 2nd choice to succeed Kuhnau. Bach was their 3rd choice. Both pieces are in several short, breezy & cheerful movements. A chorus of 14, which included the soloists, stood in a row behind the orchestra, which had about an equal number of musicians. Tenor Aaron Sheehan displayed great breath control & a clear sound. Mezzo Danielle Reutter-Harrah made a beautifully pure & full sound that was soprano-like in the Graupner. Debra Nagy played the oboe & the recorder seamlessly. I wished there could have been more than 5 string players, though, & that the soloists could have been closer to the audience.

The 2nd half began with an orchestral suite by Telemann, who was the Town Council's 1st choice to succeed Kuhnau. Despite the intentionally silly titles for the movements, Telemann's music is vigorous & engaging. He would have been a great hire. We got a slightly larger orchestra, including 11 strings, 4 trumpets, 2 oboes, a bassoon & a timpani. The evening ended with Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D, which got a consistently lilting performance, even during the famous Air. The instrumentalists played immaculately, especially the wind & trumpet players. Bach's music immediately sounded thicker & more virtuosic than that of his contemporaries. The entire performance was characteristically clean & fastidious, & it was fun to watch the musicians exchange glances as they played. The ABS audience listened very quietly & applauded enthusiastically, especially for the Bach.

§ American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy

Masterworks Series
The Leipzig Masters

Rita Lilly, soprano
Danielle Reutter-Harrah, mezzo-soprano
Judith Malafronte, alto
Aaron Sheehan, tenor
William Sharp, baritone
American Bach Soloists
American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor

Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722)
Ihr Himmel jubilirt von oben

Christoph Graupner (1683-1760)
Magnificat in C Major

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
La Bourse (The Stock Exchange), TWV 55:B11

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Orchestral Suite (Ouverture) III in D Major, BWV 1068

Saturday July 15 2012
SF Conservatory of Music

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