Concerto Grosso, Op. 10, No. 2, Willem De Fesch (1687–1761)
Partita No. 5, BWV 829, J.S. Bach (1685–1750)
Orchestral Suite, BWV 1068, J.S. Bach (1685–1750)
Suite in D Major, HWV 341, George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
Trio Sonata in G Major, TWV 42, Georg Phillipp Telemann (1681–1767)
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, BWV 1048, J.S. Bach (1685–1750)
Rise up my love, my fair one
The music chosen for this concert is based on a theme from the Song of Solomon, a verse that instills a sense of new life and hope. We are lifted up into the embracing love of Christ through His Presence in the joy and life (Gaudete!) of the music.
Rise up my love, my fair one,
and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past
the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come.
Song of Solomon 2:10–13
Tafelmusik was Telemann’s collection of “table music,” published in 1733. It was music written for performance during dinner, to be enjoyed by wealthy music lovers and patrons. Each of the suites begins with an overture, followed by a series of chamber music movements, a trio, and a concluding overture. At the time, the festival overture would have been performed just after the guests were seated and the opening greetings and welcome announced. In this setting, the work takes on an element of praise and rejoicing upon entering the house of the Lord, where a feast is prepared at His Eucharistic table.
Wilelm de Fesch was a Dutch composer and virtuoso violinist in Amsterdam. For a time, he moved to London, where he played in Handel’s orchestra. His writing shows the influences of Handel and Vivaldi. He is known for bringing the Italian concerto style to the Low Countries. His Concerto Grosso, Op. 10, No. 2 was among the works written while he was in Holland, showing a consistent development of skill and absorption of the latest musical currents from Italy. The brilliance displayed in the Concerto in B-flat bears resemblance to the style of Vivaldi concerti.
Bach’s Partitas for harpsichord represent the great composer at the height of his compositional maturity, perhaps only paralleled by his Goldberg Variations. Similar in construction to his orchestral suites, the partitas begin with a virtuosic prelude that serves as an introduction to the dance movements that follow. In Partita #5, the Praeludium shows the influence of Buxtehude’s “free style” from the opening phrases; melodic fragments punctuated by chords and rests. The movement develops in melody and counterpoint, descending to the lowest note on the harpsichord at the close. During the Baroque era in Germany, the orchestral suite was one of the most popular instrumental forms. Based on the French overture and dance movements, the suites consist of dance movements that are often preceded by a stately overture. Perhaps the most popular and widely performed, Orchestral Suite #3 contains the beloved Air, known for its exquisite and expressive melody. The Gavottes and Gigue portray the uplifting joy of those dance forms, very familiar and popular in Bach’s day.
On May 12, 1733, Handel’s Suite in D Major was first announced as “A Choice Sett of Aires, call’d Handel’s Water Piece, composed in Paris for a Variety of Instruments.” Apparently, Handel was surprised by the publication, because it was compiled by a London publisher, Daniel Wright, who decided to put some unpublished movements by Handel together with the commercially promising title of “Mr. Handel’s Water Piece.” Despite the fact that the work was not designed by Handel, the final product is a celebratory work by the renowned composer, incorporating the form of a Baroque dance suite, and featuring the trumpet.
Telemann’s Trio Sonatas, written early on in his career, show the influence of Corelli and Lully on his writing, both from the standpoint of form and melody. In the Trio in G Major, the second movement is in the style of a a gigue, while the melodic sweep of the final “affetuoso” movement develops through imitation. Most likely composed before 1715, these works reveal the expressive nature of Telemann’s early writing, which eventually developed into the “galant style” of his later works.
Johann Sebastian Bach dedicated six “concertos with several instruments” to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg. The Margrave had apparently shown an interest in Bach’s music at a previous meeting and asked to see some of the composer’s work. Few works in the history of music match their tireless invention, colorful instrumentation, or the tremendous demands they make on performers. The Third Concerto, for nine solo strings (three each of violins, violas, and cellos) and continuo, opens majestically, with the soloists grouped by instrument (the violins play one figure, the violas another, and the cellos a third). As the movement progresses, these divisions hold for the most part, although there are moments of independence for each of the soloists. Bach reused the first movement as the opening sinfonia for his cantata for Pentecost, Ich liege den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte, BWV 174.