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by Daniel Hathaway

CPE-Bach-Program-1786“The Bach Legacy” is the overriding theme in this summer’s Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute, and artistic director Kenneth Slowik decided to devote the second faculty concert on Friday, June 21 to a partial replication of an historic benefit concert given in Hamburg in April of 1786 by Johann Sebastian Bach’s most celebrated son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. (Program pictured here.)

That concert, given in support of a medical institute for the poor, began with what seems to have been the first ever performance of the Credo from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Mass in b minor. C.P.E. Bach provided the Credo with a brief, new introduction and slightly adapted it to a new age when instruments like the oboe d’amore had become obsolete and needed to be replaced (in this case by violins). Read the rest of this entry »

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by Daniel Hathaway

Bach-CPH-06For the forty-third edition of the Baroque Performance Institute, which has drawn a hundred students of early music to the Oberlin Conservatory this summer, Kenneth Slowik, artistic director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society in Washington, D.C. and artistic director of BPI, has chosen to focus on the legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach. “It’s always a great pleasure to do the Bach legacy, but the other great spur was the 300th anniversary of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach”, born in 1714 “into a remarkable family of musicians.”

More like a dynasty perhaps, because the surname “Bach” was nearly synonymous with “musician” in eighteenth-century Thuringia, accounting for more than 50 musicians with the Bach surname before Johann Sebastian’s sons began traveling into the wider world.

And debunking the widespread notion that the music by the most famous of Bachs, C.P.E.’s father Johann Sebastian, was denounced by his sons as old-fashioned and all but forgotten after his death in 1750, a highlight of this year’s institute, which runs from June 15-29, will be the partial reeanactment on June 27 of a famous charity concert C.P.E. gave in Hamburg in 1786. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Oberlin-BPI-OrchestraWe could have chosen all Transylvanian music,” quipped artistic director Kenneth Slowik during the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute faculty concert in Warner Concert Hall last Friday evening, “but we decided to go for quality: Austria.” This year’s BPI theme focused on music by composers who lived and worked in lands touched by the Danube River, with special attention to the exotic string music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. In addition to his Battalia, student and faculty ensembles regaled a large and appreciative audience with music by Georg Muffat, Emperor Leopold I, Johann Joseph Fux and the young Joseph Haydn.

Though most of the repertory on Friday evening fell into the “not often played nor heard” category, Biber’s battle piece had the distinction of appearing on two area concert programs last week (it was also on the menu for ChamberFest Cleveland at Mixon Hall on Wednesday evening). This short and entertaining Baroque tone poem from 1673 depicts a motley and dissolute group of soldiers who get drunk and sing different songs at the same time, go into battle then lament their fallen fellows. An ensemble of three violins, four violas, two cellos, theorbo and harpsichord led by principal violinist Julie Andrijeski created cacophony worthy of Charles Ives and plausible battle sounds with dramatic snap pizzicatos. Read the rest of this entry »

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