Performing this Week

Tara Helen O’Connor, flute
Tara Helen O’Connor, flute

Liang Wang, oboe
Liang Wang, oboe

Daniel Phillips, violin
Daniel Phillips, violin

Timothy Eddy, cello
Timothy Eddy, cello

Marji Danilow, bass
Marji Danilow, bass

Kathleen McIntosh, harpsichord
Kathleen McIntosh, harpsichord

Ricardo Morales, clarinet
Ricardo Morales, clarinet

Milan Turkovic, bassoon
Milan Turkovic, bassoon

Teng Li, viola
Teng Li, viola

Nicholas Canellakis, cello
Nicholas Canellakis, cello

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Summer 2010 — Week 6

This week's radio concert from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival includes Susana Phillips and Jorge Prego singing arias from three canatas by J. S. Bach, as well as an all-star team playing Ludwig Spohr's Grand Nonet in F Major.

Scroll below to listen to excerpts from Kerry Frumkin and Marc Neikrug's conversation about the program. You can also can read the text of the Bach arias, hear Tim Eddy describe his long history with the Bach Aria Group, read an e-terview with Jorge Prego, and explore other "web extras."

In other words, welcome to the home of items rescued from the "cutting room floor," and other related tangents found along the way to creating the radio programs.

Thanks for stopping by,
Louise Frank
Series Producer

Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61) in a portrait by Elias Gottlob Haussmann, Copy or second Version of his 1746 Canvas, private ownership of William H. Scheide, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61) in a portrait by Elias Gottlob Haussmann, Copy or second Version of his 1746 Canvas, private ownership of William H. Scheide, Princeton, New Jersey, USA (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)
"Seufzer, Tränen, Kummer, Not" from Cantata No. 21, Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis (before 1714)
"So schnell ein rauschend Wasser schießt" from Cantata No. 26, Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig (1724)
"Bete aber auch dabei mitten in dem Wachen!" from Cantata No. 115, Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit (1724)

Susanna Phillips, soprano; Jorge Prego, tenor; Tara Helen O'Connor, flute; Liang Wang, oboe; Daniel Phillips, violin; Timothy Eddy, cello; Marji Danilow, bass; Kathleen McIntosh, harpsichord

"Seufzer, Tränen, Kummer, Not" from Cantata No. 21, Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis (before 1714)

This is one of the fine early examples of Bach's cantatas, and while possibly "officially" first performed on June 17, 1714 at Weimar, most scholars believe that Bach composed it the previous year. It certainly has a more widely applicable context for the church year, and even the as yet young composer recognized its special qualities. It was submitted for an application for a post in Hamburg in 1720, and used again not long after the Leipzig appointment began. This aria was originally for tenor, but later switched to soprano. As is so often the case, it is Bach's choice and usage of the obbligato solo instrument that intensifies the already powerful vocal line.

Seufzer, Tränen, Kummer, Not,
Ängstliches Sehnen, Furcht und Tod
Nagen mein beklemmtes Herz,
Ich empfinde Jammer, Schmerz.

 

Sighing, tears, worry, need
Anxious yearning, fear and death
Gnaw at my anguished heart,
I am filled with misery, pain

 

"So schnell ein rauschend Wasser schießt" from Cantata No. 26, Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig (1724)

This work clearly dates from Bach's second full year in his Leipzig employment, being first heard on November 19, 1724. The featured aria not only is another excellent example of Bach's musical illumination of the text (wouldn't he have had a ball in the mid-19th century!), but reveals a favorite device: first he creates the sonic image of a rushing torrent with scales in both the solo voice and instruments, but after the words "gone like passing summer showers," he replaces the scales with broken triads— just as he would in the "drops of my tears" aria from the St. Matthew Passion.

So schnell ein rauschend Wasser fließt,
So eilen unser Lebenstage.
Die Zeit vergeht, die Stunden eilen,
Wie sich die Tropfen plötzlich teilen,
Wenn alles in den Abgrund schießt.

 

As swiftly as roaring water rushes by,
so do the days of our life hurry by.
Time passes, the hours hurry by,
just as drops suddenly divide,
when everything plunges into the abyss.

 

"Bete aber auch dabei mitten in dem Wachen!" from Cantata No. 115, Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit (1724)

Another cantata dating from 1724, this time "premiered" on November 5, "Bete aber auch..." contains some of Bach's most unusual and specific scoring. This is particularly true in the aria heard here, where a violoncello piccolo creates a uniquely dense upper texture with flute, the soprano, and continuo.

Bete aber auch dabei
Mitten in dem Wachen!
Bitte bei der großen Schuld
Deinen Richter um Geduld
Soll er dich von Sünden frei
Und gereinigt machen!

 

But you should also pray
while you are awake!
For your great guilt beg
your judge for patience,
so that he may make you free from sin
and purified!

- Program notes by Greg Hettmansberger for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

 

Autograph of the Bach aria 'Alles Mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn' (BWV 1127), discovered by Michael Maul in the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in 2005. (Thanks to www.bachhausweimar.de)
Autograph of the Bach aria "Alles Mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn" (BWV 1127), discovered by Michael Maul in the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in 2005. (Thanks to www.bachhausweimar.de)

 

"Bach, to our delight, was a composer who actually had the job of being a composer," says Marc as they ponder the beauty of Bach's arias.

 

What does water actually sound like? With the aria from Bach's Cantata 26," As quickly as rushing water flies" as an example, Kerry and Marc talk about some of the musical techniques Bach used to express the texts that he had to deal with.

 

Cellist Tim Eddy

Cellist Tim Eddy (This lovely photo came from here.)

Tim Eddy is the long-time cellist of the Orion String Quartet and a long-time member of the Bach Aria Group. He teaches at The Juilliard School and was recently honored by the Indiana University School of Music. You can find his bio at cello.org

 

Tim Eddy muses on why the cello and the human voice go so well together.

 

Tim Eddy conveys how his acquaintance with Bach's vocal music began, and how he came to be first cello of the Bach Aria Group in New York.

 

Three members of the esteemed Bach Aria Group partake in the chamber orchestra for the Bach arias heard on this program: flutist Tara Helen O'Connor, violinist Daniel Phillips, and cellist Tim Eddy.
Three members of the esteemed Bach Aria Group partake in the chamber orchestra for the Bach arias heard on this program: flutist Tara Helen O'Connor, violinist Daniel Phillips, and cellist Tim Eddy. (Photo: gingarts.com)

 

The New York Times printed a story about the Bach Aria Group back in 1982 and www.bach-cantatas.com has a nice bio of the ensemble.

Congratulations to soprano Susanna Phillips, recipient of the Fifth Annual Beverly Sills Artist Award!

Soprano Susanna Phillips has been named the recipient of the 5th annual Beverly Sills Artist Award for young singers at the Metropolitan Opera. The $50,000 award, the largest of its kind in the United States, is designated for extraordinarily gifted singers between the ages of 25 and 40 who have already appeared in featured solo roles at the Met. The award, in honor of Beverly Sills, was established in 2006 by an endowment gift from Agnes Varis, a managing director on the Met board, and her husband, Karl Leichtman. Phillips was presented with the award at the Met April 21, 2010 by Dr. Varis and Muffy Greenough, daughter of Beverly Sills.

 

LSO - Susanna Phillips sings Don Giovanni - Non Mi Dir


Opera Soprano Susanna Phillips sings Non Mi Dir from "Don Giovanni" for an intimate group. Accompanied by Yasuko Oura, this performance is a precursor to her role as Donna Anna in the Fort Worth Operas production of "Don Giovanni."

 

As a member of the Santa Fe Opera's 2009 Apprentice Singers, Jorge Prego was on hand when Marc Neikrug planned the concert of Bach Arias at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Here is what he had to say when series producer Louise Frank wrote to him and asked about his experience in Santa Fe last summer.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR VOICE AS A PERFORMING SINGER?
After many years playing the piano, I wasn't completely happy about the way things were going, so I thought it was time for a change... and I found my voice. Best choice ever, plus I love this life.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF SANTA FE?
Quiet, really quiet. My very first night I slept less than four hours but it felt like 12. So peaceful!

HOW DID YOU END UP PERFORMING AT THE FESTIVAL?
They were looking for a tenor for the concert and David Holloway, Head of Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program, recommended me to Mark Neikrug, who contacted me. And of course I said yes immediately. Bach is my favorite composer, so I was very excited about it.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST NOW THAT YOU'RE NOT THERE?
Three things: the absolute silence at night, the starry skies, and the total rest on Sundays after a week of fabulous work. But I'm going back in three weeks!

HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THESE BACH SONGS?
Very, very intensively. People at the Santa Fe Opera helped me a lot, most especially Brent McMunn, who polished my German and got me vocally where I needed to be.

YOU SANG "SO SCHNELL EIN RAUSCHEND WASSER SCHIESST" — "AS SWIFTLY AS ROARING WATER RUSHES BY" — FROM CANTATA NO. 26, ACH WIE FLÜCHTIG, ACH WIE NICHTIG ... TELL US ABOUT THIS ARIA.
This is Bach doing what he always did best: being an absolute genius; the flow, the harmonic progressions, the surprises, the subtleties, the beauty of the lines, the architecture of the piece, the colors...a bottomless well. I had so much fun with this Aria I got addicted to it: I still hum it here and there, on the bus, or in the shower...

ANY "BEHIND THE SCENES" STORIES YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?
When they first told me I would be singing along with Susanna Phillips I thought she was another Apprentice, like me. Opera is a brand new world for me, so I'm still catching up with names... When I found out who she really was I felt a lot of pressure, but also very determined to do my best.

WHAT ABOUT THIS EXPERIENCE WILL HELP AS YOUR CAREER PROGRESSES?
It improved every aspect of my singing: my diction, my sound, my technique... It was a big step for me.

WHAT MENTAL "PHOTO" WILL YOU CARRY WITH YOU IN YOUR MEMORY FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?
I had the double honor of performing such masterpieces with a fantastic ensemble and of working with a singer like Susanna Phillips. During rehearsals—and during the performance too!—I would look around me and think: can I possibly get any luckier?

Jorge Prego (Aronne) and Andrea Concetti (Mose) in rehearsal for Chicago Opera Theater's recent production of Mose in Egitto.

Jorge Prego (Aronne) and Andrea Concetti (Mose) in rehearsal for Chicago Opera Theater's recent production of Mose in Egitto.

A member of YAP, Chicago Opera Theater's Young Artist Program, Jorge has just finished a successful run as Aronne in Chicago Opera Theater's production of Rossini's rarely performed Mosè in Egitto. He kindly shared these photos.

An ensemble scene at the end of Act II of Chicago Opera Theater's 2010 production of Mose in Egitto. Jorge Prego sang the role of Arrone.
An ensemble scene at the end of Act II of Chicago Opera Theater's 2010 production of Mose in Egitto. Jorge Prego sang the role of Arrone.

 

"Pop Up Opera!": Jorge Prego sings La Fleur Que Tu M'Avais Jetee on a train platform in Chicago


Members of Chicago Opera Theater's Young Artists program, Jorge Prego and Catalina Cuervo, participated in a series of "Pop Up Operas," such as this on in which Jorge sings the "Flower Song" from Carmen.

Alabaster relief of Louis Spohr by Gustav Kaupert. Gustav Kaupert was a German sculptor born April 4, 1819 in Kassel.

Alabaster relief of Louis Spohr by Gustav Kaupert. Gustav Kaupert was a German sculptor born April 4, 1819 in Kassel.

LUDWIG SPOHR (1784-1859)
Nonet in F Major, Op. 31 (1813)

  • Allegro
  • Scherzo: Allegro
  • Adagio
  • Finale: Vivace

Tara Helen O'Connor, flute; Liang Wang, oboe; Ricardo Morales, clarinet; Milan Turkovic, bassoon; Philip Myers, horn; Glenn Dicterow, violin; Teng Li, viola; Nicholas Canellakis, cello; Marji Danilow, bass

For the first three years of its existence, Spohr's Nonet could only be played in the presence of Johan Tost, the man who commissioned the composition. In this conversation excerpt, Kerry and Marc discuss the unusual business deal which yielded what Marc calls a "wonderful, direct, sentimental kind of music."

 

Marc informs Kerry about the backgrounds of the fantastic wind players who make up the "all star cast" for this performance.

 

 

Milan shares his feelings about the importance of a good ambiance between players.

 

Louise asks, "What about playing winds at 7000 feet?" and Milan confides his personal solution involving arriving early to check his reeds... and eat the delicious local cuisine.

 

One of the pre-eminent bassoon players of our day, Milan Turkovic is also well known as a conductor. (Photo by Werner Kmetitsch)
One of the pre-eminent bassoon players of our day, Milan Turkovic is also well known as a conductor. (Photo by Werner Kmetitsch)

 

Milan Turkovic Conducts Vivaldi E minor concerto (excerpt) - Jerusalem, 1994

Watch an interview with clarinetist Ricardo Morales.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center has some wonderful program notes for the Spohr Nonet, including an excerpt from Spohr's auto biography in which he describes how the work came to be written.

One of the many places to learn more about Louis Sphor is The Spohr Society of the United States.

A little more about some of the players...