Showing posts with label First and Central Presbyterian Church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label First and Central Presbyterian Church. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

J. S. Bach and His Circle - Market Street Music Festival Concert

Market Street Music Director David Schelat
My sneak preview of David Schelat’s upcoming organ recital was a trip through the world of Johann Sebastian Bach through examples of the music Bach heard as a young man, the composers he influenced and the late works of the great composer himself.

The recital opens with a Praeludium in C Major by Dieterich Buxtehude, a composer and artist whom Bach admired greatly.  This large work is as grand as any organ work of Bach, and to hear the varied registrations chosen by Mr. Schelat for the Gabriel Kney organ is a moving experience. The second composer whose music influenced Bach was Georg Böhm.  The chorale prelude shows a contrasting style of French influence. 

Mr. Schelat then played the compositions of three of Bach’s students.  Two of the three preludes Mr. Schelat chose by Johann Christian Kittel sounded as if Mozart had gone backwards in time to write a few operatic songs for organ, but what we really see is how Bach sowed the seeds of the Classical era.  The third prelude is a large and exciting prelude in D minor which calls to mind the great master’s toccata and fugue in the same key.

The second Bach student may not be as well known, but has a large catalog of compositions.  Gottfried August Homilius’ Dearly I love you, O Lord is in trio form and the registration Mr. Schelat chose maintain a brilliant contrast with the two manuals and pedal all in distinctive voices. 

The Fantasia and fugue in F Major by Johann Ludwig Krebs reveal another intersection of styles as Bach’s student tries a wildly rococo fantasia and a more baroque full fugue.

The final works — those of the great master Bach — start with one of his six trio sonatas, Sonata in C Major (BWV 529).  Wilmington is lucky to have an organist who can play such a challenging work with the rich sound of the organ at First and Central.  The other two pieces, the chorale prelude Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness and the Prelude and Fugue in C Major (BWV 547) complete the tour.  In a little more than an hour, Mr. Schelat takes the listener to hear what Bach heard as a young man, how his students interpreted his teaching and how the mature composer created some of the most complex and intriguing works for organ which are still fresh today.  The concert — Bach and His Circle — is at First and Central Presbyterian Church on Rodney Square on Saturday, October 19, at 7:30pm.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Market Street Music features Organ Recital at First & Central

Gabriel Kney organ at First & Central Presbyterian
When you walk into the First and Central Presbyterian Church at Rodney Square, you walk out of the night and into a brightly lit space.  The organ console is at the very center of the chancel.  The organ case is behind the console with its beautiful white wood housing encasing the massive ranks of the 1989 instrument built by David Kney.

David Schelat started with Dieterich Buxtehude’s  Praeludium in D major and the church filled with sound.  The acoustics  created a swirl of sound as each new line chased the prior one into oblivion.  

Mr. Schelat then played selections from Bach's Orgelbüchlein, choosing several short pieces which demonstrated the range of sounds the Kney can produce such as the Zimbelstern bells for the New Year: In you is joy (BWV 615).

David Schelat, organist &
Music Director, Market Street Music
The Toccata and Fugue in A minor by Johann Ludwig Krebs was the centerpiece of the program.  Mr. Schelat has such technical mastery that the complex pedal lines, the fast scales, contrasting themes played simultaneously and the registration seemed to magically unfold.   The virtuosity of this piece rivals anything by Bach, with whom Krebs studied.

After the intermission, Mr. Schelat played one of his own compositions — an organ sonata in three movements.  The piece is quite melodic, but has innovative ideas such as the melody line played in the pedals for the folk song movement, with the keyboard playing an arpeggiated harmony.  The relatively short piece, with its clear conception, was written for a colleague, Michael Britt, who premiered it in France.

Mr. Schelat used a lot of dynamic variation with the swell pedal for the Cesar Franck Fantaisie in A and the Piece Héroique,  His encore, one of the Noel variations by Charpentier gave us an opportunity to hear the organ’s reed and piccolo stops.  

This was a great tour of an amazing organ led by a local virtuoso, right in the center of Wilmington.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Have a Warm and Fuzzy Cartoon Christmas

Rob Swanson, Jackie Browne and Jeff Knoettner
'Tis the season for Christmas shows, all striving to capture that magic feeling that comes once a year. Few shows pull it off with as little packaging as The Cartoon Christmas Trio. For their 30 minute set, part of the Market Street Music Noontime Concert Series at First & Central Presbyterian Church, it was just three guys and their instruments -- no costumes, no glitz, no decorations. None of that is needed -- within the first strains of Vince Guaraldi's  "Skating," it's Christmas.

If you haven't heard Guaraldi's famous Christmas pieces, commissioned for the classic 1965 "A Charlie Brown Christmas" TV special, live and in person, it's worth experiencing. The Trio plays the songs just as they were written, giving audiences a dose of nostalgia and a certain appreciation for the music that may have gotten lost when watching the special as a child. When the Trio play it, it's anything buck background music: It's everything.

In addition to the Guaraldi songs, The Cartoon Christmas Trio does other songs from classic Christmas TV specials. At First & Central, they did a song from "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" with a jazz edge. The full concert includes songs from "Frosty The Snowman," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and others.

If you missed The Cartoon Christmas Trio at First and Central or their first Iron Hill Brewery shows, there's still a chance to catch them before this holiday season is a memory: They'll be playing the Iron Hill in Newark on Monday, December 19, and The Iron Hill in Wilmington on Wednesday, December 21. For a complete calendar of their remaining shows in the area, click here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mastersingers of Wilmington Present Ein Deutsches Requiem

On Saturday, April 2, at 7:30, David Schelat and his Mastersingers present Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, in a program which includes other German anthems by Eighteenth and Nineteenth century composers for a lush, romantic evening.

The first part of the concert has some short a capella pieces which show off the great control and uniform harmony David Schelat has achieved with his 34-member chorale.

The Frohlocket, ihr Volker auf Erden by Felix Mendelssohn has such a perfect compositional structure that the voices resound and return in the marvelous stone environment of the First and Central Presbyterian Church sanctuary. The Mastersingers’ spirited rendition makes this piece exciting and moving.

The lyrics of Talismane, Opus 141, Number 4 – a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are inescapably gripping. “The East is God’s, the West is God’s. Northern and southern lands rest in the peace of his hands.” The chorus sings these words with such conviction that it grabs the listener by the ears.

The pièce de résistance is the wonderful requiem, accompanied on the piano by Lotus Cheng and Hiroko Yamazaki in the four-hand arrangement by Brahms. Both the small chorus and the pianists have no trouble creating a build-up of glorious sound that fills the sanctuary. Soloists Eileen Clark, soprano and Edward Albert, baritone have wonderfully strong voices that ring out above the chorus with ease.

If you have never heard the Brahms Requiem, this intimate space and small ensemble provides great opportunity to feel as if you are right in the middle of the music.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mastersingers at First and Central Presbyterian Church

On Saturday, May 1, at 7:30, David Schelat and his Mastersingers will present I do wander everywhere: songs from England and France. They let me hear Thursday’s rehearsal.

The delicate appogiaturas played by organist Marvin Mills introduce a stately Festival Te Deum by Benjamin Britten. The imitative entrances build to a piu mosso ed energico, and the rhythms change wildly. Then a delicate soprano voice rises over a very light organ registration.

The Trois Chansons by Maurice Ravel introduce some jaunty wickedness – my favorite being the rondelay warning of the dangers of the Ormond Woods. The Mastersingers are able to communicate the ironies of Ravel’s lyrics with perfect understatement.

The Choral Hymns from the Rig-Veda by Gustav Holst are a rare treat. Holst wrote these between 1907 and 1918 – translating the Sanskrit himself. Anne Sullivan’s pristine harp playing is brilliantly matched to the vocal sound of this set for women’s voices.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Three Shakespeare Songs show off the fine bass voices and his harmonies are so complex – from the bells ringing in resonant chords with major and minor seconds to the harmonic progression sustaining the lyrics ‘sea change’, the Mastersingers prove their mettle.

O quam amabilis es by Pierre Villette begins with traditional polyphony then moves to jazz harmonies and ending on an unresolved major seventh. Two motets by Marcel Duruflé are more staid and contemplative, a quiet moment of delicate sound.

The concert ends with Benjamin Britten Rejoice in the Lamb, Opus 30. This piece reminds me so much of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols because of the nonsensical lyrics, wildly dancing rhythms and exciting accompaniment.

David Schelat has selected a wonderful program of pieces that are rarely heard. Don’t miss this concert.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Mastersingers of Wilmington at First and Central Presbyterian Church

On Saturday, November 7, at 7:30, David Schelat and his Mastersingers will present In Memoriam – Songs for the Loving Departed. I snuck into a rehearsal to bring you a preview.

The reverberant room lifts the tenor voice for Selig sind die Toten (Blessed are the dead) by Heinrich Schutz and you are transported to the sounds of a European cathedral as the other voices enter and weave the harmony of the early baroque master. The John Sheppard In pace in idipsum continues the European baroque mood, but this time in the English Tudor chapel.

But don’t be lulled. Three pieces by Pavel Chesnokov, a twentieth century Russian composer, sung in Church Slavonic will bring you out of your reverie. Chesnokov, whose works David Schelat recently discovered in the Musica Russica edition, was a composer and choirmaster who struggled to pursue his profession from the Bolshevik Revolution until his cathedral was destroyed during the Stalinist era. Soloists Margaret Anne Butterfield and Charles Warrick provide a delicate cantor line for the second piece.

Organist Marvin Mills accompanies the last two pieces. He keeps a fairly simple and quiet registration for the Bach double-choir motet, Komm, Jesu, komm, letting the myriad voices of the choirs take the fore while providing a basso continuo.

But the organ is a principal voice in the Alfred Desenclos Messe de Requiem which exults in the French twentieth century lush and wild harmonies reminiscent of Ravel and Poulenc. The soloists Katherine Supina, Marjorie Eldreth, Charles Warrick and Paul Stamegna and the rest of the choral group negotiate the pitches without a hitch, showing that they indeed have earned the name Mastersingers.