by Daniel Hathaway
A busy mid-day in University Circle. Today at 11, guest conductor Barbara Hannigan leads The Cleveland Orchestra in a matinee performance of Haydn’s Symphony No. 44 (“Trauersinfonie”) & and Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration. At 12 Noon across East Boulevard, Chamber Music in the Atrium of the Cleveland Museum of Art features CIM singers in selections from Handel’s Alcina. And outdoors at 12:15 noon, carillonneur Keiran Cantilina plays requested tunes from the McGaffin Tower.
Friday evening, CityMusic’s Chamber Series presents music by Gioachino Rossini, Florence Price, Johann Sebastian Bach & Franz Schubert, as well as Irish fiddling at Praxis Fiber Workshop, and in Avon Lake, Apollo’s Fire takes a tour to Venice for double concertos by Vivaldi, highlights from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and Lamento della Ninfa, and the Sephardic traditional Seven Ways to Cook Eggplant.
For details of these and other events, visit our Concert Listings.
On this date in 1483, German theologian, religious reformer and composer Martin Luther was born in Eisleben. Author of more than 30 hymns in the German vernacular, Luther joined composer Johann Walther to publish the first protestant hymn book in 1524.
Probably his best-known hymn is Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, based on Psalm 46 and originally set to an “isorhythmic” tune whose dance-like rhythms had been smoothed out by the time J.S. Bach used it in his Cantata BWV 80. Hungarian-American organist Bálint Karosi improvises on that sturdier version of tune on the 1995 Richards & Fowkes organ in St. John’s Lutheran Church, Stamford, Connecticut.
We got ahead of ourselves yesterday in noting the birth of French composer, claveciniste, and organist François Couperin on November 9, 1668 — he actually entered the world on the 10th. So we’ll expand a bit more on his brag sheet today.
Part of the Couperin dynasty that occupied the organ bench at the church of St. Gervais in Paris, he wrote two complete organ masses, one for parishes, another for convents, as well as some 230 individual harpsichord works and suites of chamber works. He also carried on a correspondence with Johann Sebastian Bach — a visitor to the Bach household after the composer’s death found that his widow had cut up those letters to cover jam pots.
French organist Olivier Latry plays Couperin’s Mass for Parishes at the Chateau of Versailles with alternate verses sung in chant. Listen here.
Two of Couperin’s most delightful works are the Apotheoses of Corelli and Lulli, narrated musical portraits of the two composers and their different national styles. Watch a video of a Juilliard master class where Les Arts Florissant founder William Christie comments on student performances of Le Parnasse, ou L’Apothéose de Corelli, recorded at the school in September, 2019.
And on this day in 1909, Gustav Mahler led the New York Philharmonic from the keyboard of an altered piano in his own symphonic arrangements of movements from J.S. Bach’s orchestral suites. In a letter to a friend back in Europe, Mahler wrote,
“I had great fun recently with a Bach concert, for which I worked out the basso continuo conducting and improvising quite in the style of the old masters, playing on a rich-toned spinet specially adopted by Steinway for the purpose. This produced a number of surprises for me – and also for the audience. It was as though a floodlight had been turned on to this long-buried literature.”
Too bad we don’t have a recording to share.