We are delighted to be starting this concert with a piece specially written for Hull Bach Choir by our conductor, Julian Savory. Julian writes:
I wrote this short piece back in July as a sort of introduction to tonight’s concert, which focuses on Christ and his coming to mankind here on earth. The text is the Alleluia sentence (one of the special texts to be sung at the Eucharist) prescribed by the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for “The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus”. I particularly liked the idea of the name of Christ being “music to the ear, honey to the taste” and have tried to reflect the exultant nature of the Alleluias.
The Bach cantatas in this evening’s programme are two of his most popular.
Cantata 147 was originally composed in Weimar in 1716 in six movements, but seven years later in Leipzig Bach expanded the number to ten. It begins with an arresting introduction by trumpet and bassoon, followed by a choral fugue. Listen out also for the alto solo (no.3) with its lovely plaintive oboe d’amore accompaniment. The cantata’s main claim to fame is the melody that accompanies the chorale at the end of part 1 and which appears again in the work’s finale, known to the world as Jesu, joy of Man’s desiring.
Cantata 140 (Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme) is one of Bach’s most recognisable and well-loved works. The sopranos launch its famous tune based on a Lutheran chorale in the opening chorus with this rousing exhortation to the people of Jerusalem: Sleepers wake! For night is flying; the watchmen on thy walls are crying… This tune will re-appear throughout the piece. The work is also notable for its two ravishing, almost operatic, duets for soprano and bass, based on the love poetry of the Song of Solomon, allegorically portraying Jesus as bridegroom to the soul.
Bach’s six unaccompanied cello suites are beloved by cellists and audiences alike. Christine Nolan, Hull Bach Orchestra's principal cellist, will play the third.
Morten Lauridsen has been described as a mystic, his music as ethereal. We performed extracts from his Lux Aeterna in our last concert. Tonight, we have a short motet, O magnum mysterium.