Anna Prohaska (photo: Marco Borggreve)

Chamber Music

Baroque Festival

Baroque Cantatas with Anna Prohaska, Florian Boesch and Il Pomo dʼOro

Contemplation, edification and glorification of God – cantatas fulfilled important functions in Protestant church music during the Baroque period. And they gave composers of that time, particularly Leipzig’s St. Thomas Kantor, Johann Sebastian Bach, the opportunity to express human emotions such as sorrow, joy, doubt or rapture powerfully in music. During this concert, soprano Anna Prohaska, baritone Florian Boesch and the ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro demonstrate the richness of this genre with cantatas by Bach and Buxtehude.

Il pomo dʼoro

Francesco Corti direction and harpsichord

Anna Prohaska soprano

Florian Boesch baritone

Johann Sebastian Bach

“Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid”, Cantata, BWV 58

Johann Sebastian Bach

“Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen”, Cantata, BWV 32

Dieterich Buxtehude

“Ich halte es dafür”, Cantata, BuxWV 48

Johann Sebastian Bach

“Selig ist der Mann”, Cantata, BWV 57

Dates and Tickets

Fri, 25 Feb 2022, 20:00

Chamber Music Hall

Programme

Death is almost always present in Baroque sacred music, even at Christmas. “I would now yearn for death,” says the cantata “Selig ist der Mann” (Blessed is the man), BWV 57, for example, which is sung on December 26. Or “I am cheerful in my sorrow” from the cantata “Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid” (Ah God, how much heartache), BWV 58, for the Sunday after New Year’s Day, or “Dearest Jesus, my desire . . ., shall I lose you so soon?” in the cantata “Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen” (Dearest Jesus, my desire), BWV 32, which is traditionally sung on the first Sunday after Epiphany. The “joy in suffering” can be attributed to the concept of discipleship inherent in Protestantism: only one who suffers is truly close to Christ and can be redeemed.

The gloominess of the aria “I would now yearn for death” seems to anticipate the emotionally expressive conclusion of the St. Matthew Passion. And the sighing, ascending chromaticism of the opening aria of “Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen” gives the yearning and search for Jesus a powerful intensity. In such works of consolation, referred to as dialogue cantatas, the bass answers the despair expressed by the soprano – at times, the voices are even called “Soul” and “Jesus”. In the subsequent duet of the soprano and bass, Bach found a formula for the simultaneity of suffering and joy in the restless chromaticism of the basso continuo, above which the upper voices sway in melodious C major, in order to avoid being caught in the wake of related minor keys.

Dieterich Buxtehude’s “Ich halte es dafür” (I consider that) is also about the “joy of heaven after the sufferings of this time” and the search for Jesus. The voices form an ensemble, not a dialogue, and because of its song- and speechlike character, Buxtehude’s music has a deeply intimate expressiveness.

Biography

“You could lose yourself completely in the sound of her naturally flowing, lyrical soprano. But its beauty is in the best sense only a secondary aspect of Prohaska’s compelling performance” (Hamburger Abendblatt). Anna Prohaska comes from a long-established Viennese family of musicians and grew up in Hietzing in the villa where Johann Strauss composed Die Fledermaus. The singer studied at the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin and made her debut at the Komische Oper Berlin at the age of 17. At 20, she appeared for the first time at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, where she remains an ensemble member despite her international career. The soprano “with crystal-clear diction” (Der Standard) and “glitteringly silver, yet always humanly touching coloratura artistry” (Salzburger Nachrichten) is a regular guest at the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls. She has an extraordinarily broad repertoire, with works from the Baroque period being her favourite: “I like this music because it leaves me a lot of room for creativity as a singer. I can freely create ornaments and also incorporate my own interpretations in other ways. Baroque music is very emotional and has a special drama that I can exploit very well with my voice without bending it out of shape. I don’t find such a broad repertoire in every era.”


Critics acclaim him for his “wonderfully controlled, flexible, beautiful-sounding voice” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) and for a “pianissimo that fills the hall and gets under your skin” (Die Presse). Bass-baritone Florian Boesch, currently Artist in Residence at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, is one of the great lieder interpreters of our time – with regular appearances at Vienna’s Musikverein, London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and New York’s Carnegie Hall. “The lieder recital,” he says, “is a necessarily modern form because it does something that can never be non-modern: It allows something real, something to stand up for.” With a concert repertoire that is both historically and stylistically multifaceted, the versatile singer is a regular guest of leading international orchestras and can be heard at the great opera houses as an “elemental force that draws attention to itself on stage like a black hole” (Salzburger Nachrichten) in works from Purcell to Mozart and from Handel to Berg. Florian Boesch, who comes from a Viennese family of singers, now teaches lieder and oratorio at the University of Music and Performing Arts in his home town. His recordings of Schubert, Schumann and Mahler lieder have received many awards from the international press.

Sensational, dynamic and breathtaking: it is no coincidence that Il pomo d’oro (The Golden Apple), “one of the most brilliant ensembles on the Early music stage” (BBC Music Magazine), has named itself after the “Festa teatrale” of the same name by the Italian Baroque composer Antonio Cesti. The opulent open-air spectacle, at whose performance 300 horses danced ballet and 73,000 fireworks were set off, was created for the imperial wedding of Leopold I to Margarita Teresa of Spain in 1666, but did not see its premiere until two years later on Margarita’s 17th birthday. With 24 sets and around eight hours of performance time, the theatre festival eclipsed anything that had gone before. An operatic superlative, which the members of the Italian original sound ensemble, founded in 2012, build on with a “vigorous gun smoke pace” that does honour to their “reputation as perhaps the most exciting Baroque team at the moment” (Rondo). With spirit and a high standard of playing, Il pomo d’oro impresses audiences worldwide with programmes such as In War and Peace and My favourite things with the American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. The group’s most recent recordings have been awarded the Opus Klassik, the Italian Abbiato del Disco and the German Record Critics' Prize.

Anna Prohaska (photo: Marco Borggreve)

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