Tempesta di Mare opens the new year with “Cruel Amaryllis”

Tempesta di Mare opens the new year with “Cruel Amaryllis”

By Michael Caruso

Tempesta di Mare, the Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, will open the second half of its 2023-24 concert season with one of the most magnificent performances in its history. “Cruel Amaryllis, Madrigal Sets for Two Tenors of Lyrics for Guarini, Marino and Rinuccini” will be performed Friday, February 2 at 7:30 pm at Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church, 8855 Germantown Ave.

The band will include tenors James Rees and Jacob Berry, flutist Kevin Payne, therebooist Richard Stone (co-founder/co-manager of Tempesta), guitarist/therebooist Paul Morton, and narrator Martin Murrell.

The program is divided into four sections: two sections featuring the music of Ottavio Rinuccini, and one section featuring pieces by Battista Guarini and Giambattista Marino. The repertoire includes both vocal and instrumental music composed during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

“Most of the music is not found in modern editions and had to be copied from older printings,” Stone explained. Although I have no doubt that some of these sessions were made, it is possible that others held the first modern hearings on this program.

For more information call 215-755-8776 or visit www.tempestadimare.org.

Bach’s orchestral suites

Philadelphia’s “other” chamber orchestra that specializes in Baroque and classical pieces, the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, will open the new year with two performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s four orchestral suites on Friday, January 19 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, January 21, at 2:30 p.m. In the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater.

Guest leading the band from the harpsichord will be one of the world’s leading organists, Jeffrey Brillhart, longtime director of music and arts at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. Brillhart recently completed his term as Artistic Director of the Singing City Choir.

Although the suites, which Bach himself called “Ouvertures”, were given successive BWV numbers (1066-69), they were not composed in one sitting, as are the six “Brandenburg Concertos”. Their works were published between 1724 and 1731. However, like the Brandenburg Concertos, they represent Bach’s genius as a composer of instrumental music no less important than the sacred choral music of the Protestant Church.

Like his keyboard suites and parts, the four orchestral suites in C major, B minor, D major and D major, open with an introduction followed by a series of dances and airs.

For more information call 215-545-1739 or visit www.chamberorchestra.org.

Mozart’s comprehensive concert

The Philadelphia Orchestra launched the second half of its 2023-2024 concert season with an all-Mozart program presented Jan. 5, 6 and 7 in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. The concert featured renowned violinist Gil Shaham as conductor and soloist in the Violin Concertos No. 2 in D major, K. 211, and No. 5 in A major, K. 219, as well as the Adagio in E major, K. 261, and the Rondo in C major, K. .373, both for solo violin and orchestra.

In a nod to 18th-century performance practices, a miniature ensemble of mostly stringed instruments was seated on the Verizon Hall stage and Shaham conducted his fellow players and played a solo in front of them. It was not until the 19th century that orchestras were led by a separate conductor who did not play an instrument himself.

I first heard Shaham as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the days when the ensemble performed a full six-week season of concerts at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Fairmount Park, and later played the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto under the Philly orchestra’s beloved maestro from 1992 to 2002, Wolfgang Sawalesh.

Since those bygone days he has lost none of his technical prowess, but has indeed added a profound sense of expression and an attractive (rather than pedantic) sense of stylistic integrity to his playing. With easy dazzle, lyrical phrasing, and an impeccable sense of balance with the ensemble as a whole, Shaham led the brilliant Philadelphia team in excellent readings of all three scores.

How beautifully these Philadelphians played music from the foundation of the symphonic repertoire of classical music. I wish we heard them do it more often. Despite their low numbers, they filled the hall with wonderful voices of extreme beauty.

I attended on Sunday, January 7, and was pleased to see that the Verizon auditorium was packed. Future Sunday morning programs include January 28 featuring Brahms’ masterpiece “A German Requiem”; February 4, featuring concertmaster David Kim as soloist in Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”; And March 17, the film “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff will be shown.

You can contact us at Michael-caruso@comcast.net.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply