JS Bach’s stubbornly challenging but supremely rewarding Easter Oratorio (1725) has never been performed in Los Angeles! One might expect such a situation with some small piece that came to light because of recent Bach scholarship, but this 40-minute companion to the 180-minute Christmas Oratorio will receive its LA premiere in 2022.
Three very different elegies by Ferrucio Busoni emerged from the end of the nineteenth century as it crashed into WWI, the influenza pandemic of 1918, and the aftermath of both. Luciano Berio penned an intimate elegy of Martin Luther King that would grow to be included in Berio’s shatteringly original Sinfonia. The ultra-modernist writer James Joyce collected his love poems as “Chamber Music” and Berio set them as a quartet offering to Dallapiccola. Sequenza II for Harp abandons stereotypes and turns to electronic sounds. The four elements: water, earth, air, and fire inspire Berio to make a set within his six scintillating encores.
Continuing the Italian Modern theme, avant-garde composers of the nineteenth century Liszt and Paganini are represented by works that set the high water mark for virtuosity, and that inspired generations well into the twentieth century. Such virtuosity is evident in Luciano Berio’s brief Sequenza for harp, reprised from Saturday night’s concert. Folk Songs, Berio’s most popular work, was a vehicle for his then-wife Cathy Berberian’s linguistic talents It is sung in Italian, English, Armenian, French, Azerbaijani, Occitan, and Russian. Steven Vanhauwaert, piano, Movses Pogossian, violin, and Alison Bjorkedal, harp, return in solos. Mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell returns with conductor Mark Alan Hilt and Jacaranda Chamber Ensemble to perform Folk Songs.