Ann Arbor Observer cover
Send YCS Students to DC
Ann Arbor Weather:
Sunday October 13, 2019
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
Joseph Dascho

Handel, Scarlatti, & Bach

Exact contemporaries

by arwulf arwulf

From the January, 2016 issue

The act of communing with ancestral musical traditions inside of a structure designed for spiritual reflection can have a positive effect on anyone who sits to listen. It doesn't matter what language you speak, or which beliefs you find most meaningful. On January 23 at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, violinist Aaron Berofsky and harpsichordist Joseph Gascho will open the Academy of Early Music's first concert of the year 2016 with a set of sonatas by three composers born in 1685.

From the popular perspective, Handel and Bach virtually define Baroque music and are most commonly associated with attention-grabbing, large-scale choral works like Messiah. Scaled down to a more relaxed level of intimacy, the essence of their musical legacies can feel wonderfully wistful and refreshing.

The same can be said of Domenico Scarlatti, who is best remembered for having composed more than 550 sonatas, mostly for the harpsichord. Born in Naples and raised Italian, he spent much of his adult life in Madrid, writing music for the Queen of Spain. What distinguishes Scarlatti's music from that of Handel and Bach is the hauntingly beautiful influence of Andalusian deep song, born of east Mediterranean musical traditions that flourished in the south of Spain. In his own quiet way, Scarlatti tapped into the root system of flamenco music.

In celebration of the camaraderie that existed between Scarlatti and Handel, and to commemorate their good-natured competition during a Venetian harpsichord contest sponsored by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, Gascho will perform what he calls "Ottoboni's Contest," a work of lively complexity interspersing Handel's "Harmonious Blacksmith" variations with equally dazzling responses executed in the manner of Scarlatti.

As a special treat for those who thrive on hearing early eighteenth-century melodies sung in German, soprano Jennifer Ellis Kampani will deliver devotional arias from two Bach cantatas, along with Handel's settings of verses by his friend Barthold Heinrich Brockes. Rather than engaging in fancy wordplay, Brockes composed straightforward nature poems during contemplative walks in his garden, where close examination of blossoms, shrubs, and insects invariably suffused him with a powerful sense of spiritual communion. The recital will close with two of of Handel and Brockes' Nine German Arias: an ode to cascading amber flower petals tinged with silver and a hymn to roses whose iridescence signified to the poet the spark of life animating the entire world.     (end of article)

[Originally published in January, 2016.]

 



 
Bookmark and Share
Print Comment E-mail

You might also like:

On Pointe
As CAS departs, two Detroit-based ballet academies carry on the Russian tradition.
Leah O'Donnell
Wags to Wiskers Crosses the Road
Its new spot is nearly twice the size.
Sabine Bickford
Fillmore Bar & Grill
A picnic without the ants
Lee Lawrence
Lisa Robert's Busy Summer
Rock Paper Scissors arrives in Saline
Billie Ochberg
Ann Patchett
The cost of forgiveness
Keith Taylor
Photo: Ouch
Restaurants with prices Under $10
A clickable zoomable map
Is This the Year?
Last football season ended in humiliation. Now things could be looking up.
Craig Ross
Allan Harris
The jazz singer
Piotr Michalowski
Photo: Ouch
One of the finest university art museums in the country, UMMA holds collections representing 150 yea
First Church of Christian Science event
A visitor's guide to Ann Arbor