Musica Angelica Performs Its Superb Annual Holiday Concert
January 19, 2017
By Steven Lieberman
Musica Angelica, an internationally renowned baroque orchestra based in Southern California and led by music director Martin Haselbock - award-winning harpsichordist, conductor and composer - treated their audience to their annual holiday concert featuring the music and baroque treasures of J.S. Bach at Colburn School's Zipper Hall.
This orchestra is dedicated to the historically informed performance of baroque and classical music on period instruments and displayed this dedication magnificently.
For this performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, Cantata "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen" for Soprano, Trumpet and Orchestra, BWV 51, and other favorites, Haselbock recruited five accomplished soloists. Justin Bland on trumpet, soprano Andreanne Brisson-Paquin, alto Dylan Hostetter, bass-baritone Scott Graff, and tenor Pablo Cora.
Masterful coloraturas were combined with some of the most beautiful instrumental writing from the genius of Bach. Haselbock gave us the authentic sound which the composer had in mind when writing his pieces - original instruments and the number of vocalists Bach used when he performed these pieces in 1734.
Bach did not want the big choirs mostly used today; he wanted the small vocal ensembles (four in the chorus) where everybody can act as a soloist as well as harmonizing together. Bach had a way of not only creating beautiful music, but also the ability to talk to us through his music, telling stories.
Here are a couple of highlights of the concert.
The combination of Bland's virtuoso trumpet playing and Paquin's melodic soprano voice sounded glorious and heavenly during their rendition of "Jauchzet." The emotion expressed in this piece is pure joy, in the opening both singer and trumpeter employed breathtaking coloraturas.
All soloists blended impeccably well during the presentation of Bach's "Oratorio." A wonderful duet by Paquin and Graff led us to Graff and his powerful bass aria with Bland on trumpet in the first Cantata. In the second Cantata, the opening chorus is filled with passion along with the trumpet and drums, leading to a wonderful aria by Paquin with tricky phrasing, and finishing the piece with Cora's tenor aria and magical four-voice recitative, accompanied by a triumphant trumpet-and-drum affair.