(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., and LAKEVILLE, Conn.) – The period music ensemble Crescendo – the 2014 winner of Chorus America’s ASCAP/Alice Parker Award for Innovative Programming – will present choral works of the Italian composer Pietro Torri and the German composer Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel in back-to-back concerts at at the First Congregational Church in Great Barrington on Saturday, November 14, 2015, at 6pm, and at Trinity Church Lime Rock in Lakeville, Conn., on Sunday, November 15, at 4pm.
Crescendo’s performance of the requiem Missa Pro Defunctis will be a U.S. premiere. The work was written by the Italian Baroque composer Pietro Torri to honor his patron of 37 years, Maximilian Emanuel, the elector of Bavaria, at his death in 1726.
Crescendo’s artistic director Christine Gevert says, “Torri’s Requiem is a work of great beauty and stylistic variety. Like several other large scale Baroque oratorios, this work was lost, and only performed again in the 1990s by a Belgian group, from whom we obtained a transcription. This is a celebratory work, solemn and mostly upbeat, with many exuberant melodies and dramatic choral passages. We are delighted to present this work to the American audiences in concert.”
Pietro Torri was born circa 1650 in northern Italy and little is known of his education and work until he arrived at the court of Prince Maximilian in Munich in 1688. As a composer of sacred and secular works, operas, oratorios and instrumental chamber music, Torri followed Maximilian to the Spanish Netherlands, Brussels and France during the War of Spanish Succession and finally back to Munich. After Maximilian’s death, Torri became a musician in the Imperial Court serving Charles Albert, Maximilian’s son, who was elected Holy Roman Emperor. He worked for his old patron’s son until he died in 1737.
Crescendo’s soloists for this performance will be sopranos Julianne Baird and Alicia DePaolo, countertenor Nicholas Tamagna, tenor John Cox, and bass Kevin Maynor. Crescendo’s Period Instrument Ensemble will include Baroque trumpets, oboes, strings, timpani and basso continuo.
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel was hailed by his critics for being “as great as Johann Sebastian Bach.” In fact, Bach had great respect for Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel and often performed his works. A prolific composer, Stölzel was known to have written a cantata each week as Kapellmeister for the Dukes Frederick II and Frederick III.
Bach’s familiarity with Stölzel accounts for what is believed to be his use of Stölzel’s music in exercise books Bach transcribed for his son and his second wife, Anna Magdalena. One of those pieces, long attributed to Bach, is the popular aria Bist du bei mir. Sadly, much of Stölzel’s work was lost after his death. He was born in Saxony in 1690, studied at Leipzig University, traveled widely and settled in Gotha (now Thuringia) where he died in 1749.
Pre-concert talks are 30 minutes before each concert. Tickets: $30 general seating, $50 premium seating and $10 for children under 18. Groups of ten have a special rate of $220 for the November 15 performance. For tickets go to http://worldclassmusic.org/buy-tickets/ where you can purchase tickets online, or send a check by mail to Crescendo, P.O. Box 245, Lakeville, CT 06039. For more information call 860-435-4866.
Crescendo’s mission is to give its audience and performers classical music experiences that are emotionally alive and personally meaningful. It accomplishes this goal by bringing an innovative approach to its programming and performance. Its special emphasis on historically informed performance practice distinguishes Crescendo from many other concert choruses. The organization puts great emphasis on educational outreach—to singers, audiences and students. Crescendo’s music programs are mostly produced by its own ensembles, the Crescendo Chorus, the Crescendo Vocal Ensemble, the Chamber Ensemble and the Crescendo Period Instrument Orchestra.