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Johann Sebastian Bach and Christmas



Johann Sebastian Bach and Christmas

The Italian Cultural Institute of Montreal, thanks to the generous collaboration of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, is deeply pleased to offer, a couple days before Christmas and the Epiphany, the concert program entitled "Johann Sebastian Bach and Christmas" .

Listening to a concert of sacred music in the unique atmosphere of the Milan Cathedral is an opportunity that illuminates the senses and elevates the spirit, especially in the appointment that has now become a tradition in the city of Milan in anticipation of Christmas: the great concert in the Cathedral offered to the city by the Veneranda Fabbrica and the Municipality of Milan; an event that illuminates the Duomo with harmony, emotion and enthusiasm to welcome citizens and visitors in the sign of music.

The sonorous melodies blend with the architectural harmony of the Cathedral, in the wake of that same upward momentum that was the inspiration for the city in the construction of its first symbol, in 1387.

Johann Sebastian Bach, Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachts-Oratorium)

Recorded on December 20th, 2019, the concert features the laBarocca de laVerdi Instrumental and Vocal Ensemble, conducted by M° Ruben Jais, together with four solo voices: Céline Scheen (Soprano), Damien Guillon (Alto), Benedikt Kristjansson (Tenor) and Marco Saccardin (Baritone).

The Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachts-Oratorium), whose original title is Oratorium tempore nativitatis Christi is one of the most famous and most performed sacred compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), composed and performed for the first time at Christmas in 1734 in Leipzig, where Bach had been Kantor for more than ten years.

In Bach’s sacred works the term “Oratorium” occurs three times, in the culminating moments of the year: Christmas, Easter and Ascension. It can have a narrative character, as in the case of the Easter Oratory, or it can favour the story of the Gospel and entrust its intonation to a tenor, in the guise of the Evangelist, and this is the case of the Weihnachts-Oratorium, our proposal of listening to Christmas. Divided into 64 pieces, the composition includes the alternation of solo arias, multi-voice arias, recitatives accompanied by basso continuo and which reproduce the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, free recitatives accompanied by richer instrumentation, choral, and choirs of opening. In the Christmas Oratory, the commemoration of the birth of Jesus in its various sumptuous and triumphal moments becomes a celebration of authentic faith.

Of the 6 cantatas in which the composition is divided, we will let you listen to two: the First cantata, Jauchzet, frohlocket and the Sixth cantata, Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben, respectively dedicated to the dies natalis and the Epiphany. Therefore, an instrumental and emotional involvement awaits you which, we hope, will give you a ray of light, joy and serenity so that a gratifying and emotional Christmas is expected.


Johann Sebastian Bach, Gavotte en Rondeau

With the intention of celebrating a return to live music through dialogue with the city of Milan and other cultural institutions, we share with you the first of five videos that the Orchestra Sinfonica Giuseppe Verdi of Milan has produced in collaboration with the Gallerie d’Italia in Piazza Scala: the Milanese set of prestigious exhibition spaces inaugurated between 2011 and 2012 and created by Intesa Sanpaolo to make its artistic and architectural heritage available, enriched by the collections from the Cariplo Foundation in Milan.

The Gallerie d’Italia in Milan are the most recent of the three Italian museums and house two wonderful collections: the selection of paintings in the “From Canova to Boccioni” section. The nineteenth century and the Italian works of the twentieth century in the Cantiere del ‘900.

In a magnificent sequence of thirteen plaster bas-reliefs by Antonio Canova, inspired by the mythology of Homer, Virgil and Plato, we pause to listen to the sound of a dancing melody. The reason for the dance had been repeatedly addressed by Canova in painting, with a soft and captivating interpretation of the ancient, attributable to the theme of grace. This is how the notes of the Gavotte en Rondeau from Partita n. 3 in E major for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach performed by Maestro Gianfranco Ricci.

Composed in Cöthen, around 1720, in a particularly fruitful period for Bach, the Third Partita in E major, together with two other Partitas, and three sonatas for solo violin, has come down to the present day through an original manuscript by Bach himself or by Anna Maria Magdalena. Although they have been read, performed and heard countless times, these compositions always reserve new surprises for us as they reveal all the beauty that can be drawn from the violin.

The third movement, Gavotta and Rondò, takes up the rhythm and structure of an elegant and lively 18th century French court dance, built on a slender and light binary rhythm, in which we also find rare monodic episodes. Despite the obvious references to entertainment music, the great Bach creates a miraculous contrapuntal warp, almost a challenge to the melodic instrument par excellence, and a provocation to contemporary fashion, inclined to simplification and gallantry.

The Orchestra Sinfonica Giuseppe Verdi of Milan was founded in 1993 by Vladimir Delman and immediately became an essential point of reference for the great symphonic repertoire in Milan and throughout Lombardy. The orchestra’s permanent home is the Cariplo Foundation Auditorium of Milan, which for its aesthetic, technological and acoustic characteristics is considered one of the best Italian concert halls, as well as a historic place of Milanese culture.

In order to promote the art of listening, in addition to the Musical Season, divided into various festivals (Symphonic Season, Chamber Music, Crescendo in Musica, Musica & Scienza, laVerdiPops, laVerdi allo Studio), there are many activities aimed at schools that are part of the Educational Project, sponsored by the Ministry of Education, University and Research, Regional School Office for Lombardy, with the support of the Cariplo Foundation, the Lombardy Region, Donna L Kendall Foundation, and Cidim (Italian National Music Committee ). The project started with the aim to make live classical music as a cultural expression of modern society, to integrate education, to appreciate both the symphonic music and any other genre of music without ideological barriers, using the universal language as a means of integration.

Always attentive to the world of young people and with the vocation, from its very beginnings, to the popularization of music, the Foundation implements a series of facilitations and facilities for students, teachers and staff of the Universities of Milan and Lombardy. Under the leadership of the Artistic Director General Ruben Jais, on September 20th 2020, the Orchestra Sinfonica inaugurated the Symphonic Season 2020/2021. Dynamism and flexibility, in this particular historical moment, are two key characteristics with respect to artistic activity, because now more than ever it is essential to have a programming that allows to manage the musical offer by carefully monitoring the various pandemic phases and the new approach of the public, adapting from time to time with promptness and speed.

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Date: Da Thursday, December 10, 2020 a Thursday, January 07, 2021

Organized by : Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi

Entrance : Free