Two dramatic large-scale vocal works by Giacomo Carissimi
This program features some of the great vocal repertoire before the era of Bach and Vivaldi: works by the 17th century Italian composer Giacomo Carissimi. Carissimi – who continued Claudio Monteverdi’s legacy of dramatic vocal music – tells the story of a human tragedy in one of the first oratorios, “Jephte.” The Israelite general Jephte and his people celebrate a great military victory, and then sink into despair over the loss of Jephte’s beloved daughter. Like in later oratorios – similar to opera – the main characters are sung by soloists: a tenor and a soprano. The narrator role is fulfilled by solos, duets, and ensemble and choral numbers. Among the latter is the famous “Plorate filii Israel” (Weep, Oh ye children of Israel), a lament for six voices by the daughter’s virgin companions, in which they bewail her misfortune. This oratorio leaves nothing to be desired, as it presents the full spectrum of emotions: from joy, fear and anger, love and tendernes, triumphal exaltation, desperation and sadness.
Carissimi’s twelve-voice mass of the Early Baroque is based on the famous medieval folk tune “The Armed Man.” The melody of this chanson is present in each of the five movemets. Missa L’Homme armé is the last one of more than 40 masses composed on this tune over 170 years, and also the one with the largest cast. Singers and instrumentalists are divided into three groups, in the Venetian polychoral style. This type of music, for which Giovanni Gabrielli was famous, creates a lively dialogue by alternating responses of spatially separated groups on stage – a real sonic experience not to be missed!
The musicians: Pablo Bustos, tenor (Jephte), Agnes Coaxley Cox, soprano (Filia), with Kirsten Sollek, alto and Peter Becker, bass (Historicus), sopranos Sarah Fay and Jennifer Tyo, Crescendo Vocal Ensemble and period instrument ensemble: Hideki Yamaya, theorbo, Christa Patton Barqoue harp, Rachel Begley, dulzian, and Robert Eisenstein, Anne Legêne and Erica Warnock, viola da gamba. The ensembles are directed by Christine Gevert from the organ.