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Review of SOLD OUT Toronto summer Music Presentation of
The Vale of Tears/ La Vallée des Pleurs1. Praetorius: "Hört auf mit Weinen und Klagen"
Schütz: Musikalische Exequien, Op. 7
2. Concerto in the form of a German Requiem Mass
3. Motet: "Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe"
4. Canticle of B. Simeonis: "Herr, nun lässest Du Deinen Diener"
5. Praetorius: "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin"
J.S. Bach: O heilige Geist- und Wasserbad, Cantata BWV 165
6. Aria (soprano): "O heilige Geist- und Wasserbad"
7. Recit. (bass): "Die sündige Geburt verdammter Adamserben"
8. Aria (alto): "Jesu, der aus großer Liebe"
9. Recit. (bass): "Ich habe ja, mein Seelenbräutigam"
10. Aria (tenor): "Jesu, meines Todes Tod"
11. Chorale: "Sein Wort, sein Tauf, sein Nachtmahl"
Schola Cantorum and The Theatre of Early Music:
Daniel Taylor, Director
La Scena Musicale, Montreal, November 2015
"It’s clear that Daniel Taylor adores the human voice. He has meticulously chosen the singers he works with and shepherds these talents with sensitivity and a deep understanding of the music. This vale of tears turns into a river that flows forth, nearly a century later, into Bach’s Cantata BWV 165. This baptismal cantata ends in a chorale of limpidity and purity. This must be the finest performance of this stand-alone work by the great composer. Soul-uplifting and essential."
Theatre of Early Music, Schola Cantorum, Dan Taylor, The Vale of Tears
Article posted on CBC web site by Robert Rowat - Sept 2015
On the heels of their Juno-nominated 2014 album The Heart's Refuge, the Theatre of Early Music, Schola Cantorum and director Daniel Taylor are back with another exciting release on the Analekta label, The Vale of Tears.
The Theatre of Early Music is Taylor’s collective of early music specialists committed to reconstructing music for historical events, and that’s exactly what we have in The Vale of Tears. Here, the event in question is a funeral for Heinrich Posthumous Reuß, a member of the noble class in Dresden where another Heinrich, Schütz, was Kapellmeister. Schütz composed his Musikalische Exequien in 1635 to honour Reuß, and it is has endured as his most famous work. It’s complemented on The Vale of Tears by J.S. Bach’s cantata O heilige Geist- und Wasserbad, which draws on some of the same texts and chorale sources as Schütz’s work and two hymns by Michael Praetorius that were performed at Reuß’s burial service. It’s a substantial choral program for Schola Cantorum, a vocal ensemble comprised of students from the Univeristy of Toronto’s faculty of music, where Taylor is head of historical performance. But in the few years since he established the group, it has blossomed into a virtuosic choir capable of tackling the most challenging baroque repertoire.
We reached Taylor by email to find about more about his most recent project.
Music from the early baroque period doesn’t get as much attention as music from the high baroque. Why is that?
It could be said that, aside from Monteverdi, many of the composers from the early baroque period have been neglected. Perhaps until recently, ensembles have not taken risks in their programming, so often it’s Fireworks or the Brandenburgs, in part because of the reduced funding provided by the federal government to the arts. The Theatre of Early Music made its first effort to remedy that with our Juno-nominated album dedicated to early German composers including Kuhnau and J.C. Bach. Kuhnau was a composer I first brought to the Quebec and Canadian public thanks to Christopher Jackson’s invitation to direct the Choir of the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal. In many ways, Christopher proved to be a mentor and inspiration to me and my work that would follow. It’s encouraging to see groups such as Arion now programming Kuhnau, it is a compliment to my musicians and to their dedication as well as to Christopher’s unerring commitment to early music.
This album gives us a faithful representation of the kind of music we’d hear at a solemn occasion in 17th-century Germany. Does this sort of historic immersion drive your projects with the Theatre of Early Music?
Absolutely. My interest in liturgical reconstructions is driven by my belief that the art itself is already perfect in form; this, to be clear, this is not about having a "brand name" or leaving my own fingerprints all over the scores, but in allowing the original beauty of the work to be shown. It must be like the feeling of revelation that they had when they restored the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, this is very much a sacred process guided by the musicians.
You’ve been directing U of T’s Schola Cantorum for three years now. What are the challenges you face making music at a professional level with a student ensemble?
There is a moment that I usually wait for in each rehearsal, that moment during which I see the students singing with joy (priority number 1!) suddenly realize that I am going to make very specific professional artistic demands of them, they are, after all (as one of the reviewers noted recently) an ensemble of the elite singers in this country, and with opportunity comes tremendous discipline and very, very hard work. Their first concert was with the greatest choir in the world, the Tallis Scholars, and since then they have appeared with members of the Monteverdi Choir, the Gabrieli Consort and the Kammerchor Stuttgart. Combined with the rich array of courses offered through the University of Toronto’s choral program developed by Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt, our program is unrivaled in Canada.
Tell us what the recording sessions were like.
Recording sessions were intense and yet the singers and I found them to be greatly rewarding. For some of these young people, this was their first professional recording yet instead of hearing doubt or hesitation, you can hear their excitement. To be sure, the Musikalische Exequien is a complex piece and there were certainly times when I asked myself why I had set such a monumental task before all of us. However, they answered this challenge by lifting the music to a higher level.
Jan 26th 2015: Daniel Taylor writes:
" What an accomplishment for our students at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music in Historical Performance and Voice in partnership with the Choir and Orchestra of the Theatre of Early Music! "
Here is the list of Juno nominations for 2015 :
CLASSICAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: VOCAL OR CHORAL PERFORMANCE:
Schubert: Winterreise Gerald Finley & Julius Drake (Hyperion) (WINNER IN CATEGORY 2015)
Handel & Porpora: The London Years Julie Boulianne, Clavecin en concert & Luc Beausťjour (Analekta)
Mozart: Opera & Concert Arias Karina Gauvin, Les Violons du Roy & Bernard Labadie (Audiogram)
Terra Tremuit Studio de musique ancienne de Montrťal (ATMA)
The Heart's Refuge Theatre of Early Music, Schola Cantorum & Daniel Taylor (Analekta)
To see all Juno Awards for 2015 click here: Juno Awards
The Heart’s Refuge / Le Refuge du cœur1. Buxtehude, Dietrich (1637 - 1707)
Jesu, meines Lebens, BuxWV 62 (Aria)
2. Bach, Johann Cristoph (1642 - 1703)
Es ist nun aus mit menem Leben (Aria)
3. Schmelzer, Johann Heinrich (1680)
Harmonia a 5
4. Kuhnau, Johann (1660 - 1722)
Gott, sei mir gnädig nach diener
5. Bruhns, Nicolaus (1665 - 1697)
Ich Liege und schlafe mit Frieden
Schola Cantorum and The Theatre of Early Music:
Daniel Taylor, Director
Dripping with beauty and style, they establish their seriousness from the off - Buxtehude's passacaglia meditating on
Christ's sacrifice and continue it through Johann Christoph Bach's aching strophic death aria.
The choir shows its youth in a light and pleasing sound. This snapshot of 17th-century German sacred music is a heartwarming and worthy one.
Gramophone February 2015
The most recent recording of the Theatre of Early Music (TEM) and the Schola Cantorum entitled The refuge of heart,
published by Analekta, offers images of peace and serenity like many pearls on a unlikely necklace.
Of course, great baroque music is made up of a large and varied repertoire and perhaps we should not be surprised to hear such beautiful interpretations. But what sets this album apart from many others is the care taken by the conductor and artistic director of the Theatre of Early Music Daniel Taylor and his research and selection of composers and works. This may be first time on one recording that the well-known figures of Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Christoph Bach (cousin of the father of Johann Sebastian Bach) are paired with rare compositions by lesser-known composers Johann Kuhnau, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer and Nicolaus Bruhns.
The purity and depth of what is offered to the listener is made even better by the impressive cast of soloists: the mezzo-soprano Rebecca Claborn, countertenor Kyle Guilfoyle, tenor Isaiah Bell and bass Alexander Dobson deliver inspired performances and the impression of a contagious spirituality.
In perfect harmony with the chorus and soloists, musicians of the TEM show guided restraint required for this type of repertoire in which the voice and text must occupy the largest share of the listeners focus - the particular sound of old instruments is offered here in all its flavour. The thoughtful, unhurried work immediately transports us elsewhere and for quite sometime. Such music, such purity!
Thank you Mr. Taylor!
Whether one is a believer or not, it’s always with an attitude of deep meditation that we surrender to
listening to the music of the German masters of the Baroque era. With a new album from the Analekta catalog,
entitled Refuge of the Heart, featuring the Theatre of Early Music (TEM) and Schola Cantorum under the direction of
Daniel Taylor, we dive a little deeper inside the heart and soul of contemporaries of one of the most turbulent times in
history, that of the 30 Years War (seventeenth century). True to its mission to rediscover old music,
TEM and its founder and artistic director, Daniel Taylor, revealing here five gorgeous cantatas by German
composers of the Baroque era, all together in one album. Dietrich Buxtehude (1637 - 1707), Johann Christoph Bach (1642 - 1703),
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1623 - 1680), Johann Kuhnau (1660 - 1722) and Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697).
These German cantatas were constantly renewed by the great Italian masters of the Baroque. The ensemble’s distinctive style, coupled with the expertise and enthusiasm of Taylor, leads to exciting and authentic readings of these works in a musical testimony of agony, torment, but also offering consolation for this century’s torn repression and internal conflict.
This repertoire covers a breadth in time of 4 centuries. Between 1618 and 1648, a series of devastating wars decimated half the population of Europe. If believers found refuge in their faith and their hope for a better world, the composers of the time found an endless source of inspiration. During the seventeenth century, Lutheran musicians created a magnificent repertoire of sacred music. The texts emphasize Christ’s message in an original and varied way. Death and deliverance ... the suffering of Jesus ... the distress of the soul are shown by ingenious methods of musical imagery: motifs are repeated to emphasise their message in the mind of the believer; very simple melodies have been refined to create a deep sense of peace and harmony ; a rapid succession of contrasts; voices change from soprano to bass successively to evoke the descent into the tomb..
All this reflects the emotional landscape for those that were brought face to face with the horrors of war and destruction. A non-profit organization, the TEM's mission is to allow early music to shine in all its glory. The excellent musicians share their passion alongside prestigious guests, through their series of concerts in Canada and through touring nationally and internationally (France, Argentina, Brazil, England and Asia in particular). Under the baton of Taylor, the Schola Cantorum of the University of Toronto - the elite of students of all levels - are guided by a desire to make known early music in its original version, joining the TEM to offer us a brilliant and authentic presentation. Restoring the works of great masters so that they regain lustre in our eyes, Daniel Taylor and musicians from TEM are meticulous in their work, this is an offering that reveals every dimension of humanity.
Listen to this album, it is like rediscovering an old world in a new light.
Translation from french of Marie-Josée Boucher : original : info-culture.biz