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Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020

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Welcome to our December/January issue as we turn the annual calendar page, halfway through our season for the 25th time, juggling as always, secular stuff, the spirit of the season, new year resolve and winter journeys! Why is Mozart's Handel's Messiah's trumpet a trombone? Why when Laurie Anderson offers to fly you to the moon you should take her up on the invitation. Why messing with Winterreisse can (sometimes) be a very good thing! And a bumper crop of record reviews for your reading (and sometimes listening) pleasure. Available in flipthrough here right now, and on stands commencing Thursday Nov 28. See you on the other side!

Beat by Beat | Early

Beat by Beat | Early Music The Season’s Treasures Unpacked MATTHEW WHITFIELD November’s early twilights serve as a reminder of the upcoming festive season, a harbinger of what is to come. As the days grow shorter, we see a transition taking place in the world around us, a gradual evolution in which sandboxes are overtaken by Santa and road trips by reindeer. Lights and decorations are extracted from their hibernating hiding places until, one house at a time, our neighbourhoods begin to look like those in cheesy TV movies, though perhaps without the requisite miracles and an ageless, white-bearded neighbour conspicuously named “Nick.” Musical programming undergoes similar changes at this time of year, following the seasonal trajectory in a way that mirrors the outside world: one by one, concerts are announced which accumulate in quantity until the month of December is saturated with choral, orchestral and many other presentations, each celebrating the spirit of the season in different ways. Scores and parts are extracted from their boxes – Messiahs, Christmas Oratorios and Concerti - in the same way as household decorations, ready to be dusted off and brought back to life for a few short weeks. But then, on December 26, it’s over – the mad rush has reached its end. Soon the boxes will appear again, empty this time, to be filled with the dismantling of previous weeks’ efforts, and we are soon left with memories (and the realization that our favourite jeans are perhaps a bit tighter than they were a few days ago) to carry us through another 330 days. While this annual cycle follows a pattern as predictable as it is satisfying, this year’s selection of seasonal sounds features a number of notable inclusions from composers who, although respected from a historical perspective, are nonetheless under-performed. These concerts promise to add a little variety to the standard seasonal setlist, an extra dash of spice to the muchloved, tried-and-true recipes that have been passed down through generations. Tell me a Story of Christmas Heinrich Schütz is one of antiquity’s most renowned yet infrequently performed composers. Widely regarded as the most important German composer before Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as one of the most important composers of the 17th century, Schütz is credited with bringing the Italian style to Germany and continuing its evolution from the Renaissance into the early Baroque. So recognized is his influence that Schütz is commemorated as a musician in the Lutheran Calendar of Saints alongside Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel. Schütz was of great importance in bringing new musical ideas to Germany and had a significant impact on the German music which was to follow. The style of the North German organ school derives largely from Schütz, Heinrich Schütz which later culminated in the work of J.S. Bach. After Bach, the most important composers to be influenced by Schütz were Anton Webern and Brahms, who is known to have studied his works; an entire movement of Schütz-based study then permeated 20th-century German church music, with Hugo Distler, Ernst Pepping and Arnold Mendelssohn synthesizing Schütz’s modal counterpoint with modernist musical ideas to create ingeniously original works. On December 13, 14 and 15, the Toronto Consort presents Schütz’s Christmas Story alongside works by fellow countrymen Schein, Scheidt and Praetorius (most famous for his Christmas chorale Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen). Unlike Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, which is a series of cantatas for use during Christmas and the days thereafter, Schütz’s Christmas Story is a Historia, a setting of the Gospel intended to be performed during a service instead of the Gospel reading. The music was likely first performed in a Christmas service at the court chapel of Johann Georg II, Elector of Saxony, in Dresden in 1660, with text taken almost exclusively from the Luther-translated version of the Bible. The Christmas Story, like many of Schütz’s choral Passion settings, features an Evangelist narrator singing secco recitative (a tradition which Bach continued) and other solo characters including an angel, shepherds and King Herod. The chorus is used to open and close the work as well as provide chorale interpolations throughout, while instruments are utilized in what we now consider a traditionally Baroque manner: recitatives are accompanied only by continuo; pastoral flutes imply shepherds; and the majestic King Herod is heralded by trumpets. Written when he was 75 years old, after living through the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War, Schütz’s Christmas Story is a testament to the composer’s skill and ingenuity, melding influences into a style that would later be adapted and codified by the late-Baroque masters, and undeniably well worth a listen. Mr. December For 11 months of the year, the Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli makes infrequent appearances on concert programs; perhaps a concerto grosso will appear from time to time, or even a trio sonata, but it is much more likely to hear early Italian music from Vivaldi or even Monteverdi. In December, however, Corelli’s Christmas Concerto can be heard across the country, played ad infinitum by modern and period performance ensembles alike, making him classical music’s own seasonal superstar, a “Mr. December” of the 18th century. (Historical sidebar: In October 1977, Reggie Jackson hit three straight home runs in game six of the World Series, earning him the nickname “Mr. October” for his clutch hitting.) To uncover more about what Corelli composed for the rest of the 30 | December 2019January 2020

year, Confluence Concerts and Ensemble Masques join forces, December 13, to present “The Boy from Bologna: Corelli Explored,” with works by Merula, Lonati, Vitali and Handel, as well as Corelli himself. Like Schütz, Corelli is a name that many will recognize, and though his specific musical contributions may be less well known in the present day, in his time Corelli was a highly respected and influential composer. Received in the highest circles of the aristocracy and pioneering the genres of concerto and sonata, Corelli had a lasting impact on his musical successors, most notably Handel, who used Corelli’s concerti as models for his own. As we have learned many times over, music and its creators do not exist in a bubble. There is a constant exchange of ideas and sonorities that, over time, distill into unique and notable compositions, including those by Arcangelo Corelli. This horizon-broadening concert is certain to be worthwhile and may prove to widen Corelli’s popular reputation beyond the famous Christmas Concerto. Profeti della Quinta: (from left) Roman Melish, Elam Rotem, Lior Leibovici, Ori Harmelin, Doron Schleifer, Dan Dunkelblum MEL ET LAC In the Bleak Midwinter Winter arrives in earnest in January and February, the bleakest of the bleak midwinter months, which often couple with post-holiday exhaustion to form a brief period of universal hibernation. Fortunately for us, this January contains a notable exception to that trend – Toronto Consort’s “Hebreo: Rossi’s Mantua,” with works by Salamone Rossi and guest ensemble Profeti della Quinta. An unfamiliar name to many, Rossi was an Italian-Jewish violinist and composer and a transitional figure between the late Italian Renaissance period and early Baroque, a time period dominated by the historical importance of Monteverdi. In fact, Rossi served at the court of Mantua from 1587 to 1628, where he entertained the ducal family and their highly esteemed guests and, along with Monteverdi, provided fashionable music for banquets, wedding feasts, theatre productions and chapel services. (Rossi was so well-thought-of at this court that he was excused from wearing the yellow badge that was required of other Jews in Mantua.) An innovative composer, Rossi deserves to be mentioned for a number of reasons: he was one of the first composers to apply the principles of song to instrumental music, in which one melody dominates over secondary accompanying parts; and his trio sonatas, among the first in the literature, provided for the development of an idiomatic and virtuoso violin technique. Rossi also published a collection of Jewish liturgical music in 1623, written in the Baroque tradition and almost entirely unconnected to traditional Jewish cantorial music, a synthesis of Monteverdian monody and Hebrew texts. Toronto Consort’s focus on Rossi incorporates two January events: the first is the Canadian premiere of the 2012 documentary, The Search for Salamone Rossi, and Q&A with Elam Rotem, founding director of Profeti della Quinta, on January 21; this is followed by “Hebreo,” a concert of Rossi’s music itself, taking place on January 31 and repeated on February 1. Although new music nomenclature is most often understood to refer to contemporary music, it is incredible to consider that works written almost four centuries ago can be considered new, in the most practical sense – and how exciting this is! With expert performers and a captivating back story, “Hebreo” deserves to be on our must-see list this January. Although supposedly “the most wonderful time of the year,” A Baroque Celebration Jubilant choral works by the greatest composers of the Baroque period. Magnificat, Francesco Durante Gloria, Antonio Vivaldi Magnificat, Johann Sebastian Bach Pax Christi Chorale featuring Megan Miceli & Elizabeth Polese, sopranos; Georgia Burashko, mezzo-soprano; Daevyd Pepper, tenor; Bradley Christensen, baritone; and the Toronto Mozart Players DECEMBER 15, 2019, 3:00PM St. Andrew’s Church 73 Simcoe Street BUY TICKETS ONLINE AT PAXCHRISTICHORALE.ORG December 2019January 2020 | 31

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