Baroque Vocal Music
Disc 3 of 24
The Baroque Era, as it pertains to music, runs from approximately 1600 to 1750, beginning in Italy and fanning out across Europe. The two titans of the age, Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Handel, would absorb the Italian traits and blend these with their own ideas and create a music that was new and vibrant. These two composers were exact contemporaries, both being born in 1685, Bach passing away in 1750, Handel in 1759.
Religion still dominated people’s lives during the Baroque and the music on this disc narrates the two towering stories of Christ, those of his birth and death. Both works are considered oratorios, an oratorio, simply defined, as being a dramatic work that is sung and not staged, unlike opera. Oratorio primarily uses Biblical and religious stories as opposed to the historical and mythological tales heard in opera.
Handel made it big; really big! He had hits; he was fêted by royalty, he was an entrepreneur who started up The Royal Academy of Music - a joint stock company no less! – presenting opera, bending to the public’s whim, giving them they wanted, and when what they wanted change – his operas becoming passé - he began writing oratorios. Knowing how much the English loved to sing, and in their native tongue, he wrote music with great choral sections with English texts, the greatest of them all, Messiah, becoming a favourite with the growing middle class. Handel wrote for the here and now, revelling in his popularity.
Conversely, Bach wrote for the ever-after. Comparing Bach to Handel, Bach led a hard-scrabble life. When the much desired position of Cantor at St. Thomas’ Church in Leipzig became available, Bach was chosen third by the selection committee – finally prevailing only because the first choice used the occasion to wrangle a raise out of his current employer and the runner-up’s boss would not allow him to leave. And what did this new job entail? Bach was required to teach Latin and music four hours per day, to prepare and write music for the church services, not leave town unless granted permission and to lead an exemplary Lutheran life. No fêting by royalty in Leipzig for poor J.S.
Messiah is music for the concert hall. Dating from 1742, this is the story of Christ told theatrically. The forces employed are larger than Bach’s, with the English Choral Societies inviting all to participate in the choirs, a tradition that continues to grow to this day. Every Christmas, any and all members of the public are invited to join in Sing-Along Messiahs creating a massive Classic Karaoke Night!
Filled with drama, Bach’s Easter Oratorio relates the story of Mary Magdalene discovering Jesus’ shroud in the empty tomb. After its revision in 1735, the work was designated an oratorio. Bach has the characters - Simon Peter, John the Apostle, Mary Magdalene and Mary Jacobe - relate the story, while the instrumentation, with the exception of the outer movements, is sparse. This is music definitely meant for the church with its obligatory hard pews and cold draughts.
(Please find our recommended audio excerpts for this CD on the bottom of the "Overview" page.)
- Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)Kommt, eilet und laufet (Easter Oratorio), BWV 249
- Version: Paul McCreesh
- 1. 1. Sinfonia4:10
- 2. 2. Adagio3:26Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- 3. 3. Chorus: Kommt, eilet und laufet5:01
- 4. 4. Recitativo: O kalter Männer Sinn (alto, soprano, tenor, bass)0:52Kimberly McCord, Robin Blaze, Paul Agnew, Neal Davies, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- 5. 5. Aria: Seele, deine Spezereien (soprano)10:13Kimberly McCord, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- 6. 6. Recitativo: Hier ist die Gruft (tenor, bass, alto)0:44Robin Blaze, Paul Agnew, Neal Davies, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- 7. 7. Aria: Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer (tenor)7:39Paul Agnew, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- 8. 8. Recitativo: Indessen seufzen wir (soprano, alto)1:02Kimberly McCord, Robin Blaze, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- 9. 9. Aria: Saget, saget mir geschwinde (alto)5:36Robin Blaze, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- 10. 10. Recitativo: Wir sind erfreut (bass)0:33Neal Davies, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- 11. 11. Chorus: Preis und Dank2:21Kimberly McCord, Robin Blaze, Paul Agnew, Neal Davies, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- George Frideric Handel (1685 - 1759)Messiah, HWV 56
- Pt. 1
- 12. Symphony3:19Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- 13. "Ev'ry Valley shall be exalted"3:05Charles Daniels, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- 14. "And The Glory Of The Lord"2:50
- 15. "And He Shall Purify The Sons Of Levi"2:22
- 16. "For Unto Us A Child Is Born"3:36Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh, Gabrieli Consort
- 17. "He shall feed his Flock"4:20Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh
- Pt. 2
- 18. "Lift Up Your Heads"2:48
- 19. "Hallelujah"3:36
- Pt. 3
- 20. "Worthy is the Lamb... Amen"7:34Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh, Gabrieli Consort