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Plunge into the crisp melodies of these famous odes dedicated to the rivers Thames and Elbe. With deft brilliance, Telemann paints a nautical theme into all of his movements, each dedicated to mythological sea idols, from water nymphs to Triton and Neptune. Handel, in his most famous instrumental work, moved King George I to extravagant praise with his large-scale, regal score while sailing down the Thames, its joyful notes—rooted in European dances—ringing for miles. Renowned for his authentic period-style performances, conductor Paul Goodwin leads a dazzling performance of these aquatic gems. This is a concert fit for royalty!
**The Saturday, November 7 performance will be presented as a WALLCAST™ concert, presented by Citi®, in SoundScape Park. WALLCAST™ concerts are free, no ticket is required. For more information, please click here.**
Georg Philipp Telemann
Approx. Duration: 23 minutes
Overture in C major, Water Music, “Hamburg Ebb and Flood,” TWV 55:C3
Sarabande: The Sleeping Thetis
Bourrée: Thetis Awakening
Loure: Neptune in Love
Gavotte: Playing Naiads
Harlequinade: The Joking Triton
The Stormy Aeolus
Menuet: The Pleasant Zephir
Gigue: Ebb and Flow
Canarie: The Merry Boat People
George Frideric Handel
Approx. Duration: 45 minutes
Suite No. 1 in F major
Suite No. 2 in D major
Suite No. 3 in G major
Georg Philipp Telemann
Overture in C major, Water Music, “Hamburg Ebb and Flood,” TWV 55:C3
Approximate duration: 23 minutes
Georg Phillip Telemann was Germany’s leading composer in his lifetime—and his competition was stiff. Born four years before his compatriots Bach and Handel, Telemann influenced them both. He was godfather and namesake to the oldest Bach son, Carl Phillip Emmanuel, and the legacy he left from his student life and early career in Leipzig, including the founding of the Collegium Musicum, shaped J. S. Bach’s later tenure in that city. Handel, for his part, paid Telemann the ultimate compliment by repeatedly borrowing his music.
Telemann was arguably the most prolific composer ever, creating at least 3,000 works during his long career. About half of those were cantatas that went along with his role directing music for the principal churches of Hamburg, a prestigious post he held from 1721 until his death 46 years later. (His output slowed in his old age but never ceased completely; he did however make time for his gardening hobby, as we know from his correspondence with Handel.) Telemann also wrote about 50 operas and nearly 1,000 instrumental works, mostly from the early part of his career.
Hamburg was a bustling port town on the Elbe River, with the waterways protected and maintained by an admiralty formed in 1623. For its centennial, Telemann composed two nautical-themed works, a secular cantata and an instrumental overture, which were introduced together at a sumptuous banquet near the harbor. The ten-movement Overture (or Suite) sometimes appears under the descriptive heading of Hamburg Ebb and Flood; it has also been dubbed Telemann’s Water Music, drawing a parallel to Handel’s earlier work.
Following the French template for such suites, the Overture begins with a slow introduction full of undqual rhythms before proceeding to a faster, more contrapuntal continuation.
The remainder of the suite consists mostly of shorter dance forms, which Telemann labeled with their usual French names and also colorful titles that reference mythological water figures. The suite deviates from standard dances with a Harlequinade in honor of “the joking Triton,” a storm scene for Aeolus (master of the winds), and a stomping Canarie that closes the suite in tribute to “the merry boat people.”
Detailed biography of Telemann
Information on Telemann’s relationship to the Bach family
George Frideric Handel
Approximate duration: 45 minutes
Not long after Handel became Kapellmeister in 1710 to George Ludwig, Elector of Hanover, those two Germans would find themselves making history in England. Handel, for his part, revolutionized the opera scene in London with Rinaldo from 1711, spurring him to settle there permanently. Meanwhile George, by virtue of the 1689 Bill of Rights that barred Catholic monarchs, became the unlikely heir to the British throne, as the great-grandson of King James I and the closest living Protestant relative to Queen Anne when she died in 1714.
George fired Handel from the Hanover position in 1713, leading to a brief falling out. (If Handel’s long absences in London were not cause enough for termination, he also made the mistake of participating in festivities for a treaty that was unfavorable to Hanover interests.) But the two reconciled after George’s coronation, and Handel became a trusted source of music for the royal court. In 1717 when a conflict with his liberal-minded son (the future George II) left the king in need of some good public relations, he organized an outing on the River Thames and asked Handel to provide orchestral entertainment. On July 17, 1717, the river filled with boats, including a barge loaded with some fifty musicians. The whole flotilla rode the tide upriver to Chelsea, stopped for a supper, and then returned to Whitehall, with Handel’s new Water Music sounding all the while.
Water Music consists of three self-contained suites, each with slightly different instrumentation. To help the sound carry over the water, Handel leaned on the winds and brass, including a pair of horns, used for the first time in a British orchestral work. For the basso continuo line, a bassoon reinforced the cellos and basses. It is unlikely that a harpsichord was on the barge, but it is now customary to add one to the basso continuo for indoor performances. As for the sequence of movements, the order is flexible; this performance retains the original flow of the First Suite, and then intersperses the movements of the Second and Third Suites.
The First Suite in F major begins with a grand Overture in the French style, opening with a stately Largo introduction and continuing into a contrapuntal Allegro featuring two solo violins, as in a concerto grosso.
This introduction links directly to the Adagio e staccatosecond movement with its minor-key oboe melody.
The third movement features the horns in its outer sections, separated by a contrasting Andante passage centered on the oboes and bassoons.
The latter half of the First Suite explores typical dance forms, and also inserts a simple and memorable Air.
Instead of ending with a typical gigue, the First Suite closes with a contrapuntal movement in the related minor key.
The Second Suite in D major spotlights the brilliant tone of the trumpets. In both the opening movement and the beloved Alla Hornpipethat follows, the horns have an echoing role, answering the trumpets in a mellower, lower register.
The next selection comes from the Third Suite in G major, the most compact section of Water Music with only four movements and an orchestration that omits the brass. It opens with a civilized Sarabande, a form that first came to European courts by way of Spain’s rough-and-tumble American colonies.
Also from the Third Suite, the Rigaudon is an example of da capo form, meaning that there is an initial dance in the given style, followed by a contrasting dance in the same style, and then a da capo (“to the head”) return to the first dance.
Returning to the Second Suite, the next selection is a graceful movement simply labeled Lentement (“Slowly”), followed by a deft Bourrée.
Moving again to the Third Suite, the orchestra rolls out two more da capo dances. A piccolo brightens the tone of the second Minuet and also leads the bouncing melody for the closing Gigue.
This rendition of Water Music closes with a courtly Minuet, from the Second Suite.
More background on how George Ludwig became George I
Handel’s house in London, now a museum
Review in The Daily Courantfrom July 19, 1717, describing the Water Music festivities
-- Copyright © 2015 Aaron Grad
Aaron Grad is a composer, guitarist and writer based in Seattle. Besides providing program notes for the New World Symphony, he has been the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s program annotator since 2005 and also contributes notes to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Seattle Symphony.
Audio clips provided by Naxos of America, Inc.
Paul Goodwin is renowned for his historically informed interpretations of music of all periods, his wide repertoire and his interest in contemporary music. He has a great passion for incorporating period style within the traditional orchestral world and creating idiosyncratic and dynamic programs. He is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival in California.
Mr. Goodwin has a wide symphonic repertoire conducting orchestras throughout the world, such as the BBC Philharmonic, the Hallé Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in the U.K.; the San Francisco Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Seattle Symphony and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in the U.S.; the national orchestras of Belgium, Spain and Poland, the Rotterdam, Helsinki and Royal Stockholm philharmonics, and the Bayerischer, Hessischer, NDR (Hannover) and MDR (Leipzig) Rundfunkorchester in Europe.
Mr. Goodwin’s successes in opera have included Iphigenie en Tauride at the Komische Oper Berlin, The Rape of Lucretia at the Teatro Real Madrid and Orlando at Scottish Opera and Opera Australia, and Handel’s Jeptha at Welsh National Opera.
Recent conducting highlights include the San Francisco Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, Les Violons du Roy, the Utah Symphony, the National Taiwan Symphony, Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin, WDR Rundfunkorchester Koln, Münchner Rundfunkorchester and Handel’s Riccardo Primo with Staatstheater Karlsruhe. In the 2015-16 season Mr. Goodwin conducts the Ulster Orchestra, New World Symphony, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Moscow State Symphony Orchestra and Messiah with the Hungarian State Opera.
For 11 years Mr. Goodwin was the Associate Conductor of the Academy of Ancient Music with which he toured extensively and made recordings of Schütz’ choral music, Mozart’s Singspiel Zaïde and two discs of music by John Tavener, commissioned for the AAM. Three of these CDs were nominated for Grammy (U.S.) and Gramophone (U.K.) awards. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra for six years, collaborating with artists such as Kiri Te Kanawa, Joshua Bell, Maria João Pires, Mstislav Rostropovich and Magdalena Kozena. He has recorded CDs of Strauss, Hartmann, Handel’s Riccardo Primo and Athalia, and a highly acclaimed CD of Elgar's Nursery Suite for Harmonia Mundi.
Mr. Goodwin’s dedication to educational projects has led him to work with National Youth Orchestras in Spain and Holland, the Junge Deutsche Philharmonic and, the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana, as well as the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and the orchestras of the Royal College and Royal Academy of Music in London. For many years he was a regular visiting conductor for the Queen Elisabeth Competition Brussels. In 2007 Mr. Goodwin was awarded the Handel Honorary Prize of the City of Halle (Saale) in recognition of his extraordinary services to performances of works by George Frederic Handel.