Carnegie Hall Live: Arcangelo Plays Bach and Handel

On Monday, Nov. 18, WQXR broadcast the North American debut of the London-based period-instrument ensemble Arcangelo.

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  1. This broadcast is from Zankel Hall, the newest of Carnegie’s three halls. Arcangelo is an ensemble that’s fairly new to the baroque music scene, founded in 2012 by Jonathan Cohen and this concert at Carnegie is its North American debut.
  2. The broadcast is co-hosted by Fred Child in the lobby of Zankel Hall and Jeff Spurgeon is backstage.
  3. Tonight Arcangelo presents a concert of J.S. and J.C. Bach, as well as two pieces by Handel. And they’re on all performed on the instruments they were written for which is one of the main objectives of Arcangelo.
  4. The first piece on the program is by J.S. Bach's Concerto for violin, strings, and continuo, No. 1 in A minor BWV 1041. Now much of Bach’s music was composed for church services, but this piece was written in the secular court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt Cothen where Bach had the freedom to explore different kinds of musical genres. He also had a group of talented musicians at his disposal. Other works Bach composed during this period the Brandenburg Concertos and the violin sonatas and partitas.

    Joining Arcangelo tonight on this Concerto by Bach is the young up-and-coming Russian violinist, Alina Ibragimova. The Times of London has called her playing "a mixture of total abandonment and total control — that is in no way contradictory."
  5. "Jonathan Cohen with his back to the audience, sitting at the harpsichord, musicians in a semicircle around him." — Fred Child, via Carnegie Hall's live chat during the broadcast
  6. "Cohen "conducting" while his hands are busy on the harpsichord by giving meaningful leans and nods to the group, who are all playing close attention to his every move!

    "J Cohen, so articulate about the sound and feel of gut strings for this music. (I can't help but notice he's using a cushy modern adjustable piano bench. Not an authentic hardwood baroque stool & pillow...)"

    — Fred Child
  7. The next piece is by a cousin of JS Bach’s, Johann Christoph Bach. He was an organist at Eisenach and a member of the court chamber orchestra. He was not as prolific as his cousin, but his reputation as a composer was on par with Johann Sebastian’s. The piece is called "Meine Freundin, du bist schön" and is based on the "Song of Solomon." 
  8. "Just reading JE Gardiner's new book about JS Bach. He goes on quite happily about JC Bach, says if his last name weren't Bach, he'd be much more famous in his own right.

    "The musical Bach family included about 80 musicians over about 300 years. Organists, composers, kapellmeisters, but also violinists, and even town pipers."

    — Fred Child
  9. Closing out this half of the concert is Concerto Grosso in D Minor by George Frideric Handel. The idea of a concerto grosso is to pit two groups of instrumentalists against each other, the concertino, which is the solo group, and the full ensemble.