Today we perform three 'Works of Glory' by two important composers: Heinrich Schutz and Antonio Vivaldi.
You might wonder why a 'Bach' choir is performing works by other composers than those of Master Bach? Despite our name, the Pretoria Bach Choir does not just sing works by Bach, and we perform pieces by all the important Baroque and especially Early-Baroque composers, such as Schutz.
Schutz is considered as the most important German composer of the 17th century, before the arrival of J.S. Bach of course! Antonio Vivaldi, a contemporary of J.S. Bach is remembered as one of the fathers of instrumental music and the master of the concerto for soloists and orchestra. Vivaldi attracted the attention of many famous musicians during his life such as Johann Sebastian Bach himself. Bach was deeply influenced by Vivaldi's concertos and arias.
Heinrich Schutz was born exactly 100 years before J.S. Bach in the east of Germany. In his early twenties he studied music with Giovanni Gabrieli where he learnt the polychoral style you will hear today. Well into his eighties Schutz published a large volume of work (mainly composed to the text of Psalm 119!} intended to be his last composition, known as his ''Schwanengesang" (Swan Song). This work also includes Psalm 100 (Jauchzet dem Herren} and the Deutsches Magnificat that we are performing today.
"Jauchzet dem Herren" contains two Basso Continua parts, one for each choir, but it is often sung a capella with the second choir acting as an echo. The medieval churches in which this piece was originally performed already had a long reverberation time, and the echo must have even further accentuated the feeling of Majesty and Glory that Schutz was trying to create in his music.
The Magniftcat is a setting of the Song of Mary from Luke Chapter 1. Schutz wrote four versions of the Magnificat, one in Latin and the others in German although two of the German settings have been lost. The original soprano and tenor parts from Chorus 2 are missing. These were reconstructed by the German musicologist Werner Breig.
Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice almost a century after Schutz. He was the most prolific composer of Baroque orchestral music with over 50 concertos and 45 operas. He was an ordained priest, and was nicknamed II Preto Rosso, the 'Red Priest' due to his red hair. After ordination he began working at an orphanage called Ospedale della Pieta as the Maestro di Violino, and most of his compositions were for the orchestra and choir that were composed of the young ladies in the orphanage.
Vivaldi wrote at least three settings of the 4th century hymn Gloria in excelsis Deo. Two of these survive - the one you will hear today was probably written around 1715. His musical style was innovative and distinctive in its driving rhythms and dynamic phrasing.
We hope you enjoy the performance!