St. Anne’s International Bach Festival

Music-at-Hill Golden Jubilee
24th St. Anne’s International Bach Festival

St. Mary-at-Hill, Lovat Lane, City of London
19 & 26 July 2019

The Music-at-Hill Concert Society was founded 50 years ago as the St Anne’s Music Society based in the church of St Anne & Agnes Church in Gresham Street, then the home of London’s Lutheran congregation. The church and the music society moved to St Mary-at-Hill in 2013. Music-at-Hill arranges weekly Friday lunchtime concerts, often of early music. During the four weeks in July leading up to the date of Bach’s death, they present the annual St. Anne’s International Bach Festival now in its 24th year, run in conjunction with its partner organisation, the City Bach Collective, who run regular Bach Cantatas for the St Anne’s Lutheran congregation in St Mary-at-Hill. The final two Fridays of the four-week festival featured two lunchtime recitals and a Gala Bach Concerto Finale from the City Bach Collective.

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Handel in Italy: Vols 1 & 2

Handel in Italy: Vols 1 & 2
London Early Opera, Bridget Cunningham
Benjamin, Mary & Sophie Bevan
Signum Classics
SIGCD423. 43’00.
SIGCD462. 55’12. 

Some of Handel’s most exciting and dramatic music was composed during the three short years he spent in Italy, starting when he was just 21. Despite offers of financial assistance from a Medici Prince, Handel famously ‘made his way on his own bottom’, as his biographer Mainwearing put it. Mainwearing suggests that prior to his visit, Handel ‘could see nothing’ in Italian music which, if it is true, is rather surprising, as Italian music had been at the forefront of much of the European Baroque, not least because of the developments in opera, oratorio and cantata. Handel very quickly absorbed the taste and style of Italian musicians both from Rome and also from his shorter visits to Venice, Florence and Naples. In his compositions from this period, he often outdid the Italians in writing in their style – as he did in England later in his life.

These two CDs (recorded together in 2013)  give a comprehensive account of the compositions for solo voice from that period. Interestingly, the three singers are all from the same extended Bevan family who, collectively and individually, have become prominent fixtures on the vocal scene. Continue reading

Et in Arcadia ego: Italian Cantatas and Sonatas. Concentus VII

Et in Arcadia ego: Italian Cantatas and Sonatas
Concentus VII
Resonus RES10142  67’16

Handel Mi Palpita il Cor, Pensieri notturni di Filli, Sonata pour l’Hautbois; Alessandro Scarlatti Filli tu sai s’io t’amo; Francesco Mancini Recorder Sonata 1 in d; Antonio Lotti Ti sento, O Dio bendato.

Emily Atkinson (soprano), Louise Strickland (recorder), Belinda Paul (oboe & recorder), Amélie Addison (cello) & Martin Knizia (harpsichord)

This CD, from a relatively new London-based group, explores music performed in the Roman Academy of Arcadia (Pontificia Accademia degli Arcadi).  It was founded in 1690, a year after the death of, and in homage to, Queen Christina of Sweden, a major patron of the arts who moved to Rome after her 1654 abdication.  The Academy took its inspiration from an idealised world of rural innocence, and advocated a simple and direct style in music and poetry. The two opening Handel’s cantatas, the pastoral Pensieri notturni di Filli and the more dramatic Mi Palpita il Cor, demonstrate the attractive and approachable style of his early years in Italy.  Music from Naples and Venice complete the programme.

Alessandro Scarlatti’s cantata Bella s’io t’amo includes a recently discovered opening recitative – the arias are notable for the use of obligato recorder, unusual in Scarlatti’s cantatas. The CD notes include English translations of the texts, which generally focus on the complicated love lives and amours of the likes of Clori and Phyllis.

One of the delights of the cantatas on this CD is that they are accompanied by recorders or oboe as well as the harpsichord and cello continuo group.  Louise Strickland and Belinda Paul demonstrated excellent articulation and use of baroque ornaments in their contributions to the bucolic sound world, and in the two instrumental sonatas, for oboe and recorder respectively that contrast with the vocal works.

The continuo playing by Amélie Addison and Martin Knizia is sensitive and entirely appropriate for the period and genre.  The simple harpsichord realisations are particularly welcome – far too many harpsichords over-do continuo realisations.

Emily Atkinson has an attractive and clear voice, her gentle inflexions adding to the Arcadian mood of the cantatas. Only in final aria of Pensieri notturni di Filli does the voice begin to show signs of struggle with Handel’s tricky flurry of notes.

http://concentus7.com/?page_id=435

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[https://andrewbensonwilson.org/2015/04/03/et-in-arcadia-ego-italian-cantatas-and-sonatas-concentus-vii/]