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Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists
Revered as one of the world’s most innovative and dynamic musicians, Sir John Eliot Gardiner returns to the Harris Theater — one of just two U.S. engagements — to conduct the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in two distinct programs: Bach’s Mass in B minor and Handel’s L’Allegro.
Bach’s Mass in B minor, composed towards the end of his life, serves as a compendium of all the styles and approaches he took throughout his decades of music-making. In his setting of the Latin text of the mass, Bach’s resolve was not merely to mime the gestures of belief and to interpret doctrine via music of his own invention, but to extend the very range of music’s possibilities. Through such exploration, he sought to make sense of the world in which he lived and whatever lay behind it. From the opening collective cry of “Kyrie” to the winding fugues and ultimate radiance of “Dona nobis pacem,” the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists reveal all the variety of a work that encompasses wild virtuosity, immeasurable pathos, and exuberant joy.
Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato is one of the composer’s most unusual works. Despite its Italian title, it uses a completely English text, much of it written a century earlier by the poet John Milton. The work explores the contrasting moods of Mirth (L’Allegro) and Melancholy (il Penseroso), eventually advocating a “middle way” of Moderation (Moderato). This unusual structure yielded some of Handel’s most inventive and colorful music, focusing on elements of English rural and urban life that would have been familiar to him: milkmaids and shepherds, warbling birds, the busy hum of populous cities — all come to life thanks to the composer’s imaginative use of the orchestra and singers. The final Moderato section culminates in one of Handel’s most sublime duets, evoking nothing less than the dawn of the age of Enlightenment.
The riotous variety of moods in Handel’s L’Allegro, one of his most inventive, varied, and characteristically English works, will be celebrated by the Monteverdi Choir and a team of brilliant young solo singers as well as by the English Baroque Soloists — the piece has notable solos for horn, flute, bassoon, organ, bells, and cello.