Aldeburgh Music Club
Saturday 1 December 2012
Aldeburgh Music Clubfounded by Benjamin Britten in 19526 0 Y E A R S O F M U S I C M A K I N G
w w w. a l d e b u r g h m u s i c c l u b . o r g . u k
FROM THE DIRECTOR OF MUSIC
A very warm welcome to you all for tonights concert.
Messiah is loved by audiences throughout the world and performances
at this time of year mark, for many people, the beginning of the
In my programme note I write of the Messiah being an entertainment
and my approach is that of telling a story. A story that is full of drama
and still as relevant today as it was over two hundred years ago.
Enjoy and marvel at the music and realise that you are hearing one of
the greatest pieces in the choral repertoire.
Christ Risen from the Tomb c.1490
by Ambrogio Bergognone c.1453-1523
By courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
W E L C O M E
Saturday 1 December 2012 at 7.30pm
Snape Maltings Concert Hall
Zo Brown soprano
Richard Wilberforce countertenor
David Webb tenor
Matthew Kellett bass
Aldeburgh Music Club ChoirSuffolk Baroque Players
Edmond Fivet Conductor
Aldeburgh Music Clubfounded by Benjamin Britten in 1952
Aldeburgh Mus ic C lub i s a Reg is te red Char i t y No 1000990
6 0 Y E A R S O F M U S I C M A K I N G
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
Welcome to the opening concert of our 2012/13 concert season and what
better way of starting the Christmas festivities than with a performance of
Handels Messiah. This great oratorio is loved by both choirs and audiences
and we are delighted to perform it this evening with the Suffolk Baroque
Players and a very talented line up of soloists. The Hallelujah chorus is a
magnificent ending to Part II and always a favourite. Please join us in
I very much hope that you enjoy this evening and look forward to you joining
us for our next visit to Snape Maltings on 23 March for an evening of works by
Mozart which includes Mozarts Requiem, and to Orford Church on 25 May.
Our concert at Orford will include works by Kodaly, Chilcott and the world
premiere of a work by Joseph Phibbs, our composer-in-residence for 2012/13.
This work has been commissioned by the Club to celebrate the centenary of
our founder Benjamin Britten.
Aldeburgh Music Club is indebted to the generous help and support of over
120 Patrons, to our corporate sponsors Big House Holidays and Suffolk
Cottage Holidays, and for many donations and gifts.
May I take this opportunity of wishing you a very Happy Christmas and
David R Smith
W E L C O M E
M U S I C
I recently made my first visit to The Handel House in London
at 25 Brook Street which joins Grosvenor Square and
Hanover Square in the heart of Mayfair, now one of the
most exclusive and expensive areas of London.
Arriving in England in 1710 Handel moved to Brook Street in
1723 aged 38 and lived there until his death in 1759. Handel,
as a foreign national, could not own property or take long
leases, so he renewed a series of short leases, clearly very
happy in Mayfair.
When Handel moved to Brook Street it was to a new house that had just been
completed. The beautiful St Georges Church in Hanover Square, at which Handel was
a regular worshipper and which has been the venue for many Handel performances,
was completed a year after he moved to his new house. Visiting The Handel House one
gets a real feel of Handel the man and how he led his life in London. Most important
for tonight however is that Handel wrote Messiah in Brook Street in a remarkably
quick time between the 22nd August and 14th September 1741.
The first performance of Messiah was not in London however, but in Dublin at the
invitation of William Duke of Devonshire who was then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. It
is frequently forgotten that Messiah was not written as a church piece but as an
entertainment and was first performed at Dublins New Musick-Hall in Fishamble
Street. The roles of the soprano and contralto were taken by two singing actresses and
this attracted a certain amount of criticism.
The first London performance, in 1743, was also a matter of some controversy. Handel
again wished the solo arias to be sung by opera singers theatre animals. However the
use of opera singers in a religious work was frowned upon in a number of quarters.
Robbins Landon writes - - there seems to have been strong opposition to hearing the
words of the New Testament in a theatre peopled by actors and actresses of loose
morals and dubious sexual habits. Despite these concerns the first London
performance was at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden.
George Frideric Handel 1685 1759Messiah
M U S I C
The text for Messiah was provided by Charles Jennens who also wrote the libretti for
Handels Saul, Israel in Egypt, Belshazzar and LAllegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato.
Handels writing of Messiah is masterful. It is full of drama, theatricality, wonderful
choruses, elegant and exciting arias and plangent orchestral writing. There are many
versions of Messiah as Handel wrote both alternative arias and choruses and it is a
matter of taste as to which to include. I have chosen those that keep the story flowing
with a sense of drama and momentum.
Messiah was a turning point for Handel and marked the end of his composing opera
and concentrating on oratorio. Messiah is performed throughout the world on a
regular basis and is one of the staple diets for choral societies. The music never tires
and always sounds as bright and relevant as the day it was written.
Covent Garden piazza and market in 1737, looking west towards St Paul's Church. Artist: Balthazar Nebot.
SINFONY grave allegro moderato
RECITATIVE TenorComfort ye my people, saith your God.Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,and cry unto her, that her warfare isaccomplished, that her iniquity ispardoned. The voice of him that criethin the wilderness, Prepare ye the wayof the Lord, make straight in thedesert a highway for our God.Isaiah xl, 13
AIR TenorEvery valley shall be exalted, andevery mountain and hill made low:the crooked straight, and the roughplaces plain.Isaiah xl, 4
CHORUSAnd the glory of the Lord shall berevealed, and all flesh shall see ittogether: for the mouth of the Lordhath spoken it.Isaiah xl, 5
RECITATIVE BassThus saith the Lord of hosts;Yet once, a little while, and I willshake the heavens, and the earth,the sea, and the dry land; And I willshake all nations, Ill shake the heavens, the earth, the sea, the dry land and the desire of all nations shall come: the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to histemple, even the messenger of thecovenant, whom ye delight in: beholdhe shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.Haggai ii, 67; Malachi iii, 1
AIR CountertenorBut who may abide the day of hiscoming? And who shall stand whenhe appeareth? For he is like a refiners fire.Malachi iii, 2
CHORUSAnd he shall purify the sons of Levi,that they may offer unto the Lord anoffering in righteousness.Malachi iii, 3
RECITATIVE CountertenorBehold, a virgin shall conceive, andbear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel,God with us.Isaiah vii, 14; Matthew i, 23
AIR - Countertenor & CHORUSO thou that tellest good tidings to Zion,get thee up into the high mountain,O thou that tellest good tidings toJerusalem, lift up thy voice withstrength; lift it up, be not afraid; sayunto the cities of Judah,Behold your God!O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, arise,shine; for thy light is come,And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.Isaiah xl, 9; lx, 1
RECITATIVE BassFor, behold, darkness shall cover theearth, and gross darkness the people: but theLord shall arise upon thee, and hisglory shall be seen upon thee,And the Gentiles shall come to thy light,and kings to the brightness of thy rising.Isaiah lx, 23
AIR BassThe people that walked in darknesshave seen a great light, and they thatdwell in the land of the shadow of death, uponthem hath the light shined.Isaiah ix, 2
PART IOld Testament Promises of the Coming MessiahThe Birth of the MessiahMessiahs Invitation to the People
M U S I C
CHORUSFor unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:and the government shall be upon his shoulder: andhis name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Princeof Peace.Isaiah ix, 6
PIFA (PASTORAL SYMPHONY)Larghetto e mezzo piano
RECITATIVE - SopranoThere were shepherds abiding in the field, keepingwatch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel ofthe Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lordshone round about them: and they were sore afraid.And the angel said unto them, Fear not for, behold, Ibring you good tidings of great joy which shall be toall people. For unto you is born this day in the cityof David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Andsuddenly there was with the angel a multitude of theheavnly host praising God, and saying:Luke ii, 8, 9,10,11,13
CHORUSGlory to God in the highest and peace on earth,goodwill toward men.Luke ii, 14
AIR SopranoRejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout Odaughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King comethunto thee: he is the righteous Saviour, and he shallspeak peace unto the heathen.Zechariah ix, 910