By Daniel Hathaway
“I want Apollo’s Fire’s 25th Anniversary Season to be extra flashy and triumphant,” Jeannette Sorrell exclaimed in a recent telephone conversation. “So we’ll open with a program of music by Henry Purcell, one of the six or seven great composers of all time, and stretch the organization by planning a Beethoven-Schubert mini-festival at the end.”
Most concertgoers would put Beethoven and Schubert in the “greatest of all time category,” but Purcell? Sorrell agrees that his is not a household name, but she’s betting that a program of music the late-17th century composer created to celebrate the joys and soothe the sorrows of the British royal family will increase his fortunes among Clevelanders.
Among those joys will be highlights from King Arthur and Dido and Aeneas, examples of the splendid music Purcell wrote for the London theater earlier in his career. When Purcell’s mentor John Blow resigned as organist of Westminster Abbey in 1679, turning the post over to his pupil, Purcell began writing equally dramatic church music. Apollo’s Fire will include his Ode for the Birthday of Queen Mary (a joy), and the Funeral Music for Queen Mary (a sorrow) on the four programs the orchestra and Apollo’s Singers will present from October 6-9.
“People will be stunned at how beautiful and moving this music is,” Sorrell said. “We have wonderful soloists in addition to the chorus.” Those will include sopranos Molly Netter and Molly Quinn, mezzo-soprano Amanda Powell, countertenor Eric Brenner, tenor Karim Sulayman, and baritone Jeffrey Strauss.
At the other end of its anniversary year, from April 27-30 Apollo’s Fire will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and his Violin Concerto with soloist Noah Bendix-Balgley in a program called “Beethoven the Revolutionary.” Sorrell notes that pushing the limits by playing this familiar repertoire on period instruments will be something of a revelation. “The sense of his revolutionary struggle takes on new meaning. People will hear the fifth symphony as they’ve never heard it before.” The festival will also include chamber music by Franz Schubert.
In the middle of its season, Apollo’s Fire will offer programs entitled “Love in Venice” (November 17-20), performances of Handel’s Messiah (December 9-12 and 16), “Virtuoso Bach,” a set of concerts featuring Baroque oboist Debra Nagy (February 16-20), and “Sacred Bach,” a cycle of J.S. Bach’s church cantatas and a Mass under the direction of Julian Wachner, who directs the music at Trinity Church, Wall Street, in New York (March 23-26). Read the entire article at ClevelandClassical.com