San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto
Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Daniel Taylor, countertenor
Thomas Cooley, tenor
Nathaniel Watson, baritone
Philharmonia Chorale, Bruce Lamott, Director
BACH: Mass in B minor
Pre-concert talk with Bruce Lamott at 7:15 PM*
(*6:45 PM on Sunday, December 4)
Nicholas McGegan discussing Bach’s Mass in B Minor.
Bach: Mass in B Minor – Qui sedes ad dextram Patris (excerpt)
(Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra with Jennifer Lane, mezzo-soprano)
Bach created the Mass in B Minor piecemeal over the course of his long career, with parts that would eventually be movements of the Mass dating from as early as 1714, when Bach was in service to the Dukes of Weimar. In 1733 a five-month ban on public music followed the death of the Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus. In Leipzig, Bach took advantage of his unexpected leisure time to compose a grandly extended Lutheran Missa — that is, a mass consisting of Kyrie and Gloria only. His intent was to present the work to the new Elector and thereby secure a title in the nearby Dresden court. He was eventually successful, but the title wound up meaning little. During the last years of his life Bach returned to the work and added the Credo, Sanctus, Hosanna, and Agnus Dei, bringing this majestic and beloved Great Mass to completion.
The B Minor Mass presents listeners with a broad cross-section of Bach’s art in all its kaleidoscopic variety. Quasi-operatic da capo arias, dignified contrapuntal settings, and glittering choruses combine with one of the most colorfully expanded orchestras of the era to create an unforgettable journey through a central ceremony of the Christian faith, the lifetime achievement of an artist whose bedrock belief has led to his being called “The Fifth Evangelist.”