Classical Concerts

The Tetzlaffs and Vogt Play Brahms and More

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
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Visitors from Afar

By Brian McCreath   |   Wednesday, April 13, 2016
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Mozart's Requiem, from H+H

Thursday, April 7, 2016
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Handel's Agrippina, from Boston Baroque

Thursday, February 4, 2016
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"A Boy Is Born," from the Tallis Scholars

Friday, December 18, 2015
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In a concert presented by the Boston Early Music Festival, the Tallis Scholars celebrate the season through music by Sheppard, Tallis, and Pärt.


Hear this concert performance from St. Paul Church in Cambridge, Mass., on-demand below.


Tallis Scholars


listen buttonHear the concert on-demand

When you attend a Tallis Scholars concert, it’s a bit like stepping into another world.  As Fiona Maddocks of The Observer said, it’s "as near extraterrestrial as you can get sitting in a concert hall.”

And that’s the feeling listeners had last Saturday night at St. Paul’s Church in Cambridge in a concert presented by the Boston Early Music Festival, with music by Elizabethan composers John Sheppard and Thomas Tallis, and contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. The program was conducted by Peter Phillips, who founded the 10-voice Tallis Scholars in 1973.  

As the ensemble’s name suggests, Tallis and Sheppard are central to the identity of the Tallis Scholars as specialists in 16th century English vocal music. But Pärt? Music of our time may not seem to be the most natural companion to those earlier composers. But it only takes a few seconds of listening to sense that the austere, yet strangely rich sonorities Pärt creates is a reflection of both the ancient and the modern.

And according to Peter Phillips, it’s a sound-world every bit as compelling as that of the Tallis and Sheppard: “Sheppard has a particular atmosphere about him ... it’s not very different from Pärt’s particular atmosphere, and it’s a kind of contemplative, almost rhapsodic, sometimes very dissonant atmosphere that I love. It takes me out of worrying about anything and puts me in a different space ... I just float off.”

As for their namesake composer, the Tallis Scholars performed a mass written for Christmas Day in 1554, when the entire congregation at Winchester Cathedral was buzzing with the news that Queen Mary could possibly be pregnant with a boy who would be heir to the throne of England. So it’s significant that this grand seven-voice mass was based on a plainsong, “Puer natus est nobis” - A Boy is Born.

The “Boy” is the Christ-child – reason enough to celebrate - but perhaps there was another significant “Boy” on the way? In the end, as it turned out, Queen Mary wasn’t pregnant at all. Clearly Tallis was a master not only of his art, but also of composing just the right piece for his moment in history.  

What’s more important now is what we hear in the Christmas Mass, which Peter Phillips describes as “quite a busy piece of music ... so it’s a lot of teeming detail that is fascinating. It’s sort of like a mosaic that’s forming up in front of your eyes and ears.”

To hear this “mosaic,” click on "Hear the concert on-demand" above.


See the complete Boston Early Music Festival concert schedule

(image of the Tallis Scholars by Eric Richmond)

Corelli and Handel with A Far Cry

Friday, December 11, 2015
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The genius of two masters of Baroque instrumental music comes to life through a performance by A Far Cry, in concert at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Hear the concert on-demand below, as well as a preview on The Answered Question.


Hear the concert on-demand



A Far Cry - the name of this orchestra brings to mind something out of the ordinary, off the beaten track, something special. And that's just what A Far Cry delivers. 

Formed in 2007 in Jamaica Plain, A Far Cry is the Chamber Orchestra in Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The group still rehearses in Jamaica Plain, at a storefront they share with a couple of small theater groups.

A Far Cry signIt's an unassuming place, with a little shingle out front - and inside, some of the best music-making in town. Last week the Criers were rehearsing "A Tale of Two Sixes" - a concert of 6 Concerti grossi by Arcangelo Corelli and George Frideric Handel. The concerti come from each of the composers' Opus 6 collections - those are the two sixes in the title.

On most of its programs, A Far Cry creates "outside the box" combinations - a program might include a Handel Concerto Grosso, but it might be combined with something by Stravinsky, or even a newly-commissioned piece.

But for this concert, the Criers are focusing in on string music from early 18th century Europe - concertos by Corelli, the great violinist of Rome, who invented the Concerto Grosso, and Handel, the brilliant young opera composer, the toast of London, who took the Concerto Grosso to new heights of inventiveness.

They met in 1707 or 1708, on Handel's tour of Italy.  Handel studied with Corelli while he was visiting Rome. Handel was an up-and-coming young composer, and Corelli was ready for retirement. But the younger composer must have been dazzled, in the presence of the great violin virtuoso of his generation. 

Handel couldn¹t help but be influenced by Corelli¹s style, and he even arranged his opus numbers so that his collection of concerti grossi would come out as Op. 6, just like those of his famous teacher.

For more information about the Criers 2015-2016 season visit A Far Cry and the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum.

About the Author
Brian McCreath Brian McCreath


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