Bach, Light and Serious, Opens TMC

Linde Middle Ribbon Chopping (Hilary Scott photograph)

The first vocal program of the Tanglewood Music Middle passed off on Monday with a late-afternoon choice of Bach cantatas. In past years, the present has consisted totally of examples from the almost 200 surviving church cantatas, but on this occasion it started with the pleasant Coffee Cantata, [which, along with BWV 201, Der Streit zwischen Phoebus und Pan], is about as close as Bach ever received to writing an opera; three assorted and highly effective church cantatas adopted. John Harbison, directed the live performance and carried out two of the cantatas, persevering with his a few years of devotion to this repertory going again to his early conducting of the Cantata Singers in Boston during his years as a scholar at Harvard.

TMC devoted the live performance to the reminiscence of the enormously missed baritone Sanford Sylvan, who, within the final 5 years, had joined the school of the Tanglewood Music Middle and had taken a very lively half in coaching the singers for this annual season-opening Bach occasion. He ceaselessly stated, “You don’t get rich singing Bach—you get happy.”

Earlier than the live performance started at 5pm, a few of the individuals took half in three preliminary events related with the new Tanglewood Learning Institute, which takes place on the newly opened Linde Middle, a brief stroll from Ozawa Hall. Over the remainder of the summer time it boasts a powerful schedule of lectures, grasp courses, and open rehearsals (and will continue to supply different occasions from the Boston Symphony and outdoors organizations all year long).

As a result of the concert would begin with Bach’s Espresso Cantata, these discussions passed off in “Cindy’s Café,” a part of the Linde Middle, happily setting the temper was happily with free espresso and cookies

In an interview with Robert Kirzinger, Harbison pointed out that few young American singers get any training or experience in singing Bach. Most classical vocal training on this nation goals at operatic careers and music composed nicely after Bach’s time. (The Baroque composer who’s a extra frequent aim of American vocal coaching is Handel, if only because of the probability of singing jobs for the inevitable Messiah a minimum of every year.)

Beyond the question of coaching for the younger singers of the Music Middle, Harbison and Kirzinger talked concerning the position of the cantata in Bach’s output and the various nature of the choices. In addition, Harbison spoke of the significance of the singer’s understanding the expressive thrust of Bach’s writing and what he meant to be projected to the congregations.

In a second hour, BSO Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur interviewed three TMC Fellows (a soprano, a cellist, and a conductor) about their experiences of learning Bach beneath these circumstances and what that they had discovered in preparation for the upcoming performances.

Masur began his a part of the afternoon by mentioning that he had spent his early years dwelling in Leipzig, when his father, the late Kurt Masur, was conductor there, and that he had grown up steeped in Bach’s personal church and the long custom of his music. In the hour earlier than the concert, he led a Q&A with the audience about Bach’s cantatas.

The live performance offered an outstanding augury for the TMC occasions of the summer time, with the four wonderfully assorted cantatas. Former TMC Fellows, as far as I might tell, joined the string sections, because this summer time’s string Fellows are busy rehearsing and performing in the string quartet marathon over the weekend. The flutes, oboes, bassoon, and trumpet required in numerous matches for the cantatas have been drawn from this summer time’s Fellows. Whether in moments of pain, fear, sorry, contentment, or joy the orchestral shaping invariably underscored Bach’s expressions of the text.

A part of the singers’ preparation ensured that they understood the expressive level of the texts. In this respect they gave exemplary interpretations, both in connection with the sometimes-intricate interaction with the devices. The very precise enunciation illuminated the phrases exceptionally nicely.

The light-hearted Espresso Cantata (BWV 211) came first. It enacts an enthralling story a few young lady who has grow to be hooked on her day by day coffee (it’s value remembering that coffee solely made its approach to Europe in 1683, when the Turkish military besieging Vienna was routed in a surprise assault by allied Christian forces. In response to legend, they found luggage of espresso left behind in the rout of the Turkish forces; the primary espresso store was opened in Vienna two years later (the yr of Bach’s delivery), and by the time he was 50, when he composed the Coffee Cantata, the brew was recognized throughout Europe.

The father, Schlendrian (which suggests “stick-in-the-mud”) objects to his daughter Liesgen’s coffee habit and makes numerous threats if she doesn’t give it up. She holds out towards a menace of no new clothes, being banned from socializing at an open window.  Only when he promises to deny her a husband until she yields does she seem to return around, pleading for a husband—“Today!” But as soon as he leaves to discover a suitor, Liesgen informs that audience that she won’t look with favor on anyone until he agrees to let her drink espresso any time she needs.

Because the cantata presents two arias for each father and daughter, and as a way to get as many Fellows concerned in this system as attainable, two father/daughter couples carried out each half: Emily Helenbroek and Matthew Payne at first, then Robin Steitz and Edward Vogel within the second half. As narrator, setting the scene and  describing the motion, tenor Patrick McGill was fantastically clear and direct, and he joined the others in the finale “Chorus” (a term often used in Baroque opera to point a closing number that employs all the singers within the forged).

With a purpose to separate the warm pleasure of the Coffee Cantata from the more profoundly expressive sacred cantatas, John Harbison arranged the program with Cantata BWV 42 next, because it begins with a meditative seven-minute sinfonia, which served to determine an appropriate temper. This cantata, composed in 1725, for the second Sunday after Easter, provides comfort in an exceptionally lovely alto aria (sung by Olivia Cosio) accompanied by the mellow but plangent sound of two oboes, based mostly on a verse from Matthew through which Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” A soprano-tenor duet (Margaret Tigue and Patrick McGill) assert that such sorrows aren’t long-lasting. Then a bass (Nathaniel Sullivan) sang the ultimate recitative and aria bringing a joyous sense of hope, confirmed by the ultimate chorale. John Harbison carried out with a mild intensity that introduced the creating feelings to life.

The subsequent cantata got here from early in Bach’s profession, when he was primarily functioning as an organist in Weimar with the duty of composing a cantata roughly once a month (slightly than weekly, as he did in the course of the first couple of years in Leipzig. Cantata 161 (“Come, sweet hour of death”) explores a theme that was quite common in Bach’s time, though one that isn’t a lot emphasized in trendy Protestant worship: the desirability of a comforting view of dying, even a demise referred to as upon to reach quickly, with the promise of eternal salvation. Complicated, seemingly contradicting, imagery describes the sort of demise foretold (one among these, “honey in the lion’s mouth,” is an example from the opening movement. This primary movement, combining soprano and alto soloists alternate with the refrain intoning strains from a chorale calling for the “sweet hour of death” to return quickly. That that is meant to be a consoling thought is demonstrated by a mild recorder determine (flute on this afternoon) with mezzo-sopranos Chloë Schaaf and Kameryn Lueng. The flutes continue with a recitative and aria for tenor (Eric Finbar Carey) to take care of the tranquil environment. An alto aria (Gloria Palermo) requires the final hour to strike, which Bach successfully suggests with pizzicatos in the strings to recommend the ticking of a clock. Nathan Aspinall carried out.

Harbison carried out the final cantata, BWV 127 “Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God”, also from 1725, for the final Sunday before Lent (after which no cantatas got in church till Easter Sunday). The opening movement is unusually wealthy in intertwining themes from three totally different musical sources, blended into a pattern suggesting a procession (suggesting Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. This complicated opening motion precedes others that anticipate the Crucifixion (tenor recitative: Eric Finbar Carey), a tranquil acceptance (soprano aria: Elizabeth Polese), and the bass recitative and aria describing of a catastrophic ending (Walter Aldrich), during which the orchestra contributes colorful musical photographs of the top occasions with a trumpet outburst and other onomatopoeic suggestion.

Though Bach’s church cantatas have a type of primary form, often together with an opening chorus, adopted by a number of recitative and aria mixtures for numerous vocal ranges, then closing with a chorale melody and textual content in an easy harmonization, Bach manages to generate a unprecedented vary of musical results as he characterizes the precise ideas of Biblical passages, new-composed poetry to further explain the Gospel, ending with the text and melodies that may the recognized to the whole congregation in firm, simple harmonizations. The scope of the almost 200 surviving cantatas provides a plenitude for a lifetime of analysis and efficiency. On Monday we skilled a clear demonstration of the rich oeuvre in dedicated and satisfying interpretations.

Steven Ledbetter, a contract writer and lecturer on music, was program annotator for the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1979 to 1997. He is a graduate of Pomona School and acquired his PhD in Musicology from New York University.


The Linde Middle for Music and Studying, a brand new four-building complicated, gathers round an imposing 100-foot tall purple oak tree, with a serpentine coated walkway connecting each constructing and framing views and paths by means of the landscape. It consists of the state-of-the-art Studio E (70 by 50 ft) performance and rehearsal area which may seat as much as 270 patrons; the Gordon Family Studio (40 by 35 ft) and Volpe Household Studio (32 by 24 ft); and light-infused Cindy’s Café with 150 seats (plus room on the patio for about 50 more seats) and designed as a hub for visitors, TMC Fellows and school, BSO gamers, and TLI members. Tanglewood’s first year-round venue with each heating and air con, the Linde Middle embodies a robust commitment to environmental stewardship while also providing needed rehearsal area for the Tanglewood Music Middle and Tanglewood Pageant Chorus, amongst other BSO-related rehearsal and live performance actions.

The Linde Middle is designed by William Rawn Associates Architects, led by William Rawn and Cliff Gayley, and is the most important building venture at Tanglewood in 25 years, because the development of Ozawa Hall, additionally designed by William Rawn Associates. It is named the Linde Middle for Music and Learning in recognition of leadership presents made by Joyce and Edward H. Linde and their household. Reed Hilderbrand served because the undertaking’s landscape architects. Consigli was the overall contractor that constructed the new complicated, and Skanska was the Proprietor’s Undertaking Manager. Kirkegaard Associates, led by Joseph Myers, served because the challenge’s acousticians. Kirkegaard Associates have been also the acousticians for Ozawa Corridor.

The Linde Middle by William Rawn