Performance Thursday, October 20, 2011 | 7:30 PM

The English Concert

Zankel Hall
Over 300 years after it was written, Purcell’s music resonates as among the best ever written on the British Isles. In this performance, The English Concert brings the composer’s dramatic semi-operas King Arthur and The Fairy Queen to the fore in Zankel Hall.


  • The English Concert
    Harry Bicket, Director, Harpsichord, and Organ
  • Andreas Scholl, Countertenor


  • BIBER Sonata a 6
  • PURCELL "Sweeter than Roses" from Pausanias
  • PURCELL "Music for a While"
  • PURCELL "An Evening Hymn"
  • PURCELL Scenes from King Arthur
  • MUFFAT Passacaglia from Sonata No. 5
  • PURCELL Scenes from The Fairy Queen


  • The English Concert

    The English Concert is among the finest chamber orchestras in the world, with an unsurpassed reputation for inspiring performances of Baroque and Classical music in the concert hall and on CD. Based in London (where the orchestra presents an annual season of performances), The English Concert tours extensively around the world. In 2007, Harry Bicket became the orchestra's artistic director in succession to Andrew Manze and the ensemble's founder, Trevor Pinnock. Recent and future solo collaborators with The English Concert include singers David Daniels, Ian Bostridge, and Alice Coote; and instrumentalists Fabio Biondi, Kristian Bezuidenhout, and Maurice Steger. The ensemble also works with guest director-harpsichordists, including Laurence Cummings, Kenneth Weiss, and Mahan Esfahani. Future plans feature Handel operas-in-concert in the United States and Europe, and operas by Gluck with the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. The English Concert's many recordings include notable prize-winners, most recently As Steals the Morn …, featuring Mark Padmore, which received a BBC Music Magazine Award, and Bach cantatas with Elizabeth Watts and Harry Bicket, which was chosen as CD of the Month by Gramophone magazine. Future releases include recordings with Danielle de Niese and Lucy Crowe.

    Harry Bicket

    Internationally renowned as an opera and concert conductor of distinction, Harry Bicket is especially noted for his interpretation of Baroque and Classical repertoire. His 2011-2012 season includes opera productions for
    the Metropolitan Opera (Rodelinda), Lyric Opera of Chicago (Rinaldo), and Opéra National de Bordeaux (Alcina), as well as extensive concert and touring projects with The English Concert, featuring soloists such as Ian Bostridge, Andreas Scholl, and Vesselina Kasarova.

    Highlights of recent seasons include guest conducting with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, as well as critically acclaimed opera productions for the Lyric Opera of Chicago (Hercules), Minnesota Opera (Orfeo), Canadian Opera Company (Orfeo and Idomeneo), Barcelona's Gran Teatre de Liceu (L'arbore di Diana), Theater an der Wien (Iphigénie en Tauride), and The Atlanta Opera (Orfeo). Mr. Bicket has toured extensively with The English Concert (including performances in Spain, the Middle East, Austria, Germany, the US, and at the BBC Proms) and has returned to his native Liverpool to conduct the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (including in the world premiere of Ken Hesketh's oratorio Like the Sea, Like Time). He has appeared as guest conductor with the San Francisco Symphony, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Houston Symphony, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

    Mr. Bicket has appeared at major US festivals such as Glimmerglass, Spoleto, Aspen, and Santa Fe. His discography includes releases with Ian Bostridge, David Daniels, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Sarah Connolly, Rosemary Joshua, and Elizabeth Watts with The English Concert.

    More Info

  • Andreas Scholl

    This season, Andreas Scholl makes his operatic debut at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, singing the title role in Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser's new production of Giulio Cesare opposite Cecilia Bartoli. He also returns to the Metropolitan Opera for Rodelinda with Renée Fleming and tours North America with The English Concert. The 2011-2012 season also sees Mr. Scholl release an album of Bach cantatas with Kammerorchester Basel for Decca, and a tour of Europe and the UK.

    A committed recital artist, Mr. Scholl performs in the world's leading concert halls and festivals. His concert performances have included appearances with the Berliner Philharmoniker, New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Dresdner Philharmonie, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Freiburger Barockorchester, Münchner Philharmoniker, and at the 2005 Last Night of the Proms as the first countertenor ever to have been invited.

    Mr. Scholl's operatic roles include Bertarido (Rodelinda) at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the Metropolitan Opera; Arsace (Partenope) at the Royal Danish Opera; and the title role in Giulio Cesare at the Royal Danish Opera, Opéra de Lausanne, and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.

    Mr. Scholl has released a series of extraordinary solo recordings, the most recent being O Solitude-an all-Purcell album with Accademia Bizantina on the Decca label.

    More Info


Purcell King Arthur or The British Worthy "Air"
The English Concert; Trevor Pinnock, Conductor
Deutsche Grammophon

At a Glance

In the late 17th century, European music was dominated by two nations: Italy, birthplace of the Baroque (and of musical forms such as the sonata, concerto, opera, cantata, and oratorio), and France, whose culture reflected the taste and policies of King Louis XIV (and involved the invention and propagation of distinctly French forms of music, musical theater, and dance). Although neither Italian nor French music are heard tonight, their influence pervades the program. At the same time, the distinctive qualities of German and English music shine forth in unique and wonderful syntheses of various national styles. Thus, although many pieces on tonight’s program bear Italian titles—sonata, passacaglia, symphony, (from sinfonia)—or French titles—chaconne, air (from aria), overture (from ouverture)—or more subtly reflect the influence of either the Italian cantata, opera, or concerto grosso or the French court ballet, a listener of the time would never have judged them to be Italian or French.

Moreover, there is one technique, originating in the Italian Renaissance but spreading everywhere that unifies tonight’s program and is represented in all three composers’ music: variations over a repeating bass melody and/or its implied harmonies. We find it in the central section of the Biber sonata, it is the basis of Muffat’s grand passacaglia, and Purcell employs it variously in “Dido’s Lament,” “An Evening Hymn,” the independent song “O solitude, my sweetest choice,” and the theatrical incantation song “Music for a While,” as well as in two grand chaconnes.
Program Notes