Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists
Johann Sebastian Bach
Date of EventThursday, 17. 5. 2018 from 20.00
Expected end of the concert 22.15
Event placeRudolfinum – Dvořák Hall
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata „Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen“ BWV 12
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantate „Wachet! Betet! Betet! Wachet!“ BWV 70
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantate „Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen?“ BWV 81
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantate „Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme“ BWV 140
- Sir John Eliot Gardiner - conductor
- Monteverdi Choir
- English Baroque Soloists
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- For young audiences up to 27 years of age. More here.
- Best places in the hall in the 1st price category
- Welcome drink before a concert in one of the luxurious lounges
- A glass of sparkling wine and a small snack on the break of the concert
- Free concert program and festival catalog
- Free cloakroom reserved for Premium ticket holders
- There will be a meeting with artists after the concert
The Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists are stars in contemporary Baroque firmament. Together with their founder and artistic director Sir John Eliot Gardiner, they are coming to Prague to present selections from the cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach. Cantatas constitute the bulk of the two ensemble’s repertoire; the highly regarded complete recorded set of all 198 of Bach’s sacred cantatas speaks for itself. It was recorded live during the magnificent tour called the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, during which the two ensembles visited more than sixty churches in Europe and the USA. Gramophone Magazine called the event “one of the most ambitious and uplifting musical undertakings ever.”
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) devoted himself to composing cantatas for nearly his entire life. In the music of the High Baroque, these concertante works for voices and instruments constituted an independent genre, so Bach was able to build on the works of his predecessors.
His early cantatas were written in accordance with period conventions, but that changed in about 1713, when there was a major reform of Protestant church music. In connection with that change, Bach began composing a new type of cantata with arias and recitatives. Besides the traditional texts of Protestant chorales and texts by anonymous authors, sacred poetry of great worth now also began to appear to counterbalance the texts that were exclusively dependent on the biblical text and chorales. This led to the creation of a great quantity of beautiful poetic reflections filled of emotions, describing the diverse biblical events that the Protestant pastors were presenting to the faithful during the readings from the Word of God and sermons.
As is so often the case with innovations, at first the new poetic texts of the recitatives and arias pushed the chorales and biblical texts into the background, and this met with criticism, understandably, and it was in fact Bach who managed to balance things out over time.
Although he was already writing cantatas while in Weimar, he did not create the bulk of them until he held the position of cantor and music director in Leipzig, where he moved in 1723. Among his duties was the preparation of music for the city’s churches for every Sunday or holiday. This music consisted of his own compositions, the cantatas that he composed for every Sunday and holiday of the liturgical year; there was an exception for the penitential seasons preceding Christmas and Easter known as the tempus clausum, when more elaborate music was traditionally not performed. In the course of the year, at least sixty cantatas were needed (!), and this was an enormous burden on the composer, especially during his first years in Leipzig, requiring exceptional concentration and discipline. Thanks to that, his sacred repertoire grew to such an extent that he needed only use this music repeatedly for several more years, so he could devote himself to his other duties, not all of which involved composing.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner
“No other musician brings more intellectual rigor or innate musical sensibility to their work”
Sir John Eliot Gardiner is one of the leading figures of classical music today. As a frequent guest of the world’s leading orchestras (London Symphony Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig), he concentrates on the repertoire of the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. His collaborations with the Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists, and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique have made him a leading representative and pioneer of what is called historically informed interpretation. Besides two Grammy Awards for his recordings, he has received more prestigious Gramophone Awards than any other living artist.
“If there were a Nobel prize for choirs, the Monteverdi Choir should be its laureate.”
For more than fifty years, the Monteverdi Choir has been one of the world’s best vocal ensembles. Besides its regular concert activities in Europe and the United States, it has appeared in a large number of opera productions, including performances at London’s Covent Garden (Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, 2015) and the Opéra Comique in Paris (Carmen, 2009). In 2017, together with the English Baroque Soloists, the choir rehearsed all three preserved operas by Claudio Monteverdi, which it performed on the occasion of the celebrations of the 450th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The Prague Spring public still has vivid memories of the legendary performance of Bach’s B minor Mass in 2010 – also under Gardiner’s direction and accompanied by the English Baroque Soloists.
English Baroque Soloists
“The ensemble was dazzlingly precise and powerful”
Since their founding in 1978, the English Baroque Soloists have been trying to change how musicians look at interpreting music of the Baroque and early Classical periods. The combination of the seductive sound of period instruments with their passionate, virtuosic playing make them one of today’s leading Baroque orchestras. With repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to Haydn and Mozart, they have appeared on the most famous stages, including La Scala in Milan, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.