The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in February will perform in Wellington and Auckland two of the best-loved pieces of baroque music ever written.
The concert Water Music, at Wellington’s Cathedral of St Paul and Auckland’s St Matthew-in-the-City, features Georg Philipp Telemann’s Water Music and George Frideric Handel’s Water Music. The pieces, written six years apart, are considered two of the finest works of the baroque period, 1600-1750.
Water Music is the first of the NZSO’s 2019 Baroque Series of concerts, directed by the Orchestra’s Concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppänen. Further concerts in the year will also feature works by baroque masters Vivaldi, Fux and Corelli in Wellington, Auckland and Hamilton. Water Music will also be performed in Invercargill in September.
The Baroque Series follows the NZSO’s sold-out baroque concert Back to Bach at the Cathedral of St Paul in 2018.
“Baroque music is classical music at its purest and most transparent, while still including all the elements of human emotion,” says Leppänen.
As we perform without a conductor, we rely upon and react to one another making the performance experience intense and inclusive.
Numerous baroque works were first performed in churches and for the Baroque Series the NZSO has secured the Cathedral of St Paul, St-Matthew-in-the-City and Hamilton’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Where we perform baroque music is very important. The venues for 2019 were chosen for their intimate settings, atmosphere and acoustics - Leppänen.
Leppänen says Telemann’s Water Music, which premiered in 1723, is an inventive orchestral suite written to celebrate the centennial of the Hamburg Admiralty. "You can feel the ocean’s movements, mythological deities sleeping, in love, joking, angry and, then, finally, the happy sailors at the Hamburg port. It celebrates the importance of the sea, the port, and how both provided prosperity and livelihood for the city."
Handel’s Water Music was written to be performed on water. Commissioned by King George I for a royal jaunt on the River Thames in 1717, Handel conducted 50 musicians on a barge. The King loved the piece so much, the musicians played it several times in the first evening. It has become one of Handel’s best-known pieces.
Baroque Series: Water Music
Vesa-Matti Leppänen Director/Violin
Telemann Water Music, TWV 55:C3
Handel Water Music, HWV 348-350
WELLINGTON | Cathedral of St Paul| Friday, 1 February| 6.30pm
AUCKLAND | St-Matthew-in-the-City| Thursday, 14 February| 7.30pm
INVERCARGILL | Civic Theatre| Thursday, 12 September| 7.30pm