Haydn in the Church
Camerata chamber orchestra
Concertmaster: Anne Loeser
Soloists: Robert Orr and Anne Loeser
Corelli: Concerto grosso in G minor Op. 6 No. 8 (Christmas Concerto)
J. S. Bach: Concerto for Oboe and Violin in D minor after BMW 1060
Haydn: Symphony No. 10 in C, Hob. 1:10
St Peter’s Church, Willis Street
Thursday 12 December 2019, 6 pm
Camerata’s vision is to ‘perform high quality joyful chamber music accessible alike to newcomers and classical aficionados’. The small chamber orchestra includes members of Wellington’s professional orchestras as well as students and graduates of the NZ School of Music. It is a very accomplished ensemble.
Corelli: Christmas Concerto
Anne Loeser and Ursula Evans violins, Robert Ibell, cello
This is probably Corelli’s most popular work, often featured in anthologies of Christmas music. It is now hard to appreciate how revolutionary such music was in its time, a purely instrumental piece not written to compliment or accompany vocal music but to showcase purely instrumental and above all, string music. One is taken by the sheer beauty of the sound of strings on top of a bass continuo. It is not difficult or challenging music, it is just gorgeous. The work is made up of six short movements that alternate between fast and slow. They are built on contrasting repeated phrases, miniatures of devotional music. The playing requires a light touch and precision. It culminates in the beautiful Pastorale.
This is one of the 12 Concerti Grossi commissioned by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, a notable patron of arts, and was performed, very likely, in 1690 at one of the Cardinal’s Monday “academies”, his concerts. The commission was a mark of Corelli’s success and recognition. He was acknowledged as the finest violinist of his generation. Corelli’s music and musical form had a great influence on younger and later composers, Vivaldi, Handel, Bach and others.
Bach: Concerto for Oboe and Violin
Robert Orr, oboe and Anne Loeser, violin
Perhaps it doesn’t matter whether the original version of this concerto, transcribed from Bach’s Concerto for Two Harpsichords in C minor was lost or never existed, this arrangement of the keyboard parts that correspond to the individual range of the oboe and violin parts is one of Bach’s most attractive instrumental pieces. In the 1970s Nikolaus Harnoncourt transposed the concerto one tone up to D minor and this is the arrangement that was played. From the very opening bars of the work, the lively sound of the oboe lifts the music. Robert Orr, principal oboist of the NZSO is an exquisite musician who engages instantly with audience and orchestra alike. There was a lovely interplay between violin and oboe, though it was hard for the violin not to be overwhelmed by the penetrating sound of the oboe. The final movement was just exuberant joyous music. It was wonderful to hear this work.
Haydn: Symphony No. 10
Haydn was in his mid 20s when Count Morzin engaged him as music director and chamber composer for his orchestra of about 16 musicians, a steady job for a young man who until then had lived precariously as an occasional violinist and music teacher. Haydn wrote some 17 symphonies while in the employ of Count Morzin for the Count’s weekly entertainments. These were expected to be light works, easy to listen to, nothing challenging, nothing to cloud the mood of the guests. Haydn learned composition by studying the works of Carl Philip Emanuel Bach, with help from the Italian composer and singing teacher, Nicola Porpora for whom he worked as an accompanist. Thus his first symphonies were based on tradition. But they, as evident in No. 10 that we heard, had signs of the future Haydn. This was refreshingly different from the previous works in the concert, revealing a sense of humour, and, particularly in the last movement, a suggestion of an earthy, peasant dance. The horn, oboe and bassoon that joined the orchestra added a richer variety of tone.
The concert was a delightful journey from Corelli though Bach to early Haydn. It was all thoroughly enjoyable music, ideal for anyone approaching classical music with some trepidation. The gratifyingly large audience appreciated it all and was rewarded with a repeat of the Pastorale movement of the Christmas Concerto, this time with the addition of winds, adding a richness to the work.