Praetorius Christmas Vespers/Toronto Consort; Creative Course by David Fallis. Dec. 9 & 10, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.
Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) made good use of his allotted time on earth, however didn’t go away us something bearing the title Christmas Vespers. This has not stopped the Toronto Consort from commissioning such an opus retroactively and even recording it. The venerable early music ensemble underneath David Fallis revived the sacred potpourri to joyous impact Saturday evening in Jeanne Lamon Corridor.
To explain the substances of this 70-minute program is to unsettle our notion of the German Baroque earlier than Bach as a comparatively sombre period. There have been solos, duets, trios, episodes of antiphonal back-and-forth, bits of plainchant, unaccompanied motets, and motets with numerous levels of vibrant instrumental assist. There have been even a few purely instrumental dance numbers, which I believe wouldn’t type a part of a vespers service, then or now.
Many of the vocalism got here courtesy of the dozen singers of the Consort, who have been unfold throughout the entrance of the stage, with an orchestra of 14 behind. For heavy responsibility, the Toronto Chamber Choir, divided in two, was located within the gallery, sporting masks however sounding sturdy nonetheless. Lastly, the viewers was requested to sing alongside within the opening and shutting chorales — in step with Lutheran custom in addition to the protocols of the modern Christmas live performance.
It was good, communal enjoyable, however there was additionally music of high quality to sit down again and listen to, particularly in a setting in German of the Magnificat, which is believed to mirror what Praetorius discovered from Italian musicians in his travels and research. I used to be initially shocked by Fallis’s view (as expressed in an erudite program observe) that this work compares “favourably” to Monteverdi’s celebrated Vespers, however after experiencing the sophistication, splendour and modernity of Half IV, I can not quarrel with the opinion. The orchestra sounded sensible (fascinating that the three sackbut gamers have been imported from Montreal) and the choristers sang with readability and precision, on their very own or collectively. The assertive remedy of the phrases “He hath confirmed power together with his arm” was one of some spectacular pictorial results.
There have been a number of hymns and carols, together with Quem pastores, magically carried out with three soloists within the galleries. Praetorius’s compatriots Heinrich Schütz, Johann Hermann Schein and Johann Walther made temporary appearances. Some alternatives, such because the settings of the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer, have been comparatively easy in phrasing and concord. One would possibly assume that no nice ability was wanted to place them throughout. In reality, the agency tone and wonderful diction made them appear worthy of our consideration.
Fallis, the previous Toronto Consort creative director, led all this with a vivid sense of momentum and a eager ear for stability and color. He was additionally a convivial grasp of ceremonies. The group is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this season. It’s getting old properly.
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