blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ruhig und vergnügt

"This drop in temperature is wreaking havoc with my harpsichord!" said Roland Graham, artistic director of the lunchtime concert series, Doors Open For Music at Southminster church in Ottawa. He was today's accompanist for a recital by the soprano Isabelle Lacroix, performing nine arias by GF Handel, these being unusual in that the words were in German, whereas Handel usually wrote settings of English or Italian words. The performance lasted nearly an hour, so was quite demanding for her, although her voice seemed to improve, rather than tire, as she went along. Her fellow soloist was Adam Nelson on the violin, playing the obligato part to each aria, which might also have been done by a flute or oboe player. All three performers were excellent.

Perhaps I was in the right receptive state to hear this music and the church was a warm, bright and peaceful place to be today; I found it all very satisfying. The first aria -- Künft'ger Zeiten eitler Kummer stört nicht unseren sanften Schlummer... set the tone in words and music. The words were by a long-time friend of Handel's, Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747; I'd never heard of him), singing God's praises for creating such a magnificent and peaceful natural world for us, in which ambitions are irrelevant (my own paraphrase). With the life the Creator has granted us, said this aria, we have every reason to be ruhig und vergnügt, tranquil and gratified. The running passages of the second aria, remarkably well executed by the singer in this instance, echo the lyrics that describe streams rushing along and water glinting like jewels. The third one (Süsser Blumen Ambraflocken) was in a minor key, slower, sounding not unlike the famous I know that my Redeemer liveth from The Messiah. Ms Lacroix embellished the repeat of the first section here with lovely musical decorations.

And so on. I basked in the mood and melodies and appreciated the quaint old German too (sei gepreiset, sei gerühmet...) which I could easily make out, so good was the soloist's articulation, even though we in the audience were only given the translation. Alles jauchzet, alles lacht! Everything rejoices, everything laughs ... at the splendours of Spring in full bloom. Well, a little premature maybe, at -24 C today and the canal still frozen solid, but it was all very upbeat.

We got free coffee and cookies before the concert, too, as well as the free Wednesday rides on the busses for those of us over 65.

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