Bach, the Universe and Everything: Schooled by Randomness

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What is Bach, the Universe & Everything? If this is your first Bach, the Universe & Everything (BUE), welcome! We like to think of the series as a community, similar to the one Bach enjoyed in Leipzig where he produced cantatas at an extraordinary rate, providing innovative music for the weekly services at the church where he worked from 1723 until his death in 1750. At that time, the congregation was as open to science and new ideas as it was united by faith. It is in that spirit that we come together for a thought-provoking cantata and a talk from a leading scientist. There’s been a mistake. The venue has provided the wrong piano. The black notes are sticking, the white notes are out of tune, the pedals don’t work and the instrument itself is just too small.” What do you do? Tim Harford talks about how random obstacles and frustrations can inspire us to be more creative.

A note from our Principal Keyboard, Steven Devine, about today’s programme: The Cantata in this programme, Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen? BWV 81, was written by Bach for his first cycle of Leipzig cantatas, and was first performed on this day in 1724. The remarkable imagery it contains – the first movement has low strings and recorders evoking Jesus sleeping, the third has sweeping string figures representing storms and waves – would probably have been quite divisive to conservative church authorities and it is surely this dramatic writing, straight from the opera-house, that started the antagonism between many of the clergy and Bach that lasted throughout his time in Leipzig. The cantata concludes with the second verse of the chorale ‘Jesy, meine Freude’ and so I have chosen a prelude on that Chorale by the virtually unknown German composer Joseph Christoph Conrad. This composition comes from a publication from c.1770 entitled Vorspiele unterschiedener Art für die Orgel [various preludes for the organ] which appeared in Leipzig. Bach’s orchestra for BWV 81 has two recorders in the first movement and two oboes d’amore in the 5th and final movements. Presumably these would have been played by the same players but as we have the luxury of separate players I took the liberty of contrasting the dark imagery of the cantata with the vibrant virtuosity of Telemann’s wonderful concerto for two recorder and two oboes.


RANDOMNESS Speaker Tim Harford, ‘The Undercover Economist’

Orchestra Steven Devine director, organ Matthew Truscott violin Andrew Roberts violin Annette Isserlis viola Jonathan Manson cello Cecelia Bruggemeyer bass Rachel Beckett recorder Catherine Latham recorder Katharina Spreckelsen oboe Sarah Humphrys oboe Chorus Emily Dickens soprano Daisy Walford soprano David Clegg alto/choir director Bethany Horak-Hallett alto*+ Edward Ross tenor James Way tenor*+ William Gaunt bass Dominic Sedgwick bass*+


Crispin Woodhead


Johann Christoph Conrad Jesu, meine Freude


William Byrd Ave Verum Corpus


Tim Harford Extract from ‘Messy’


J.S. Bach BWV 81 Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen? BWV 81


Tim Harford Schooled by Randomeness


Crispin Woodhead


Georg Philipp Telemann Concerto in B flat for 2 recorders, 2 oboes and violin TWV 54:B2 – 4th Movement (Allegro)

* Soloists + Past and present singers of the Rising Stars of the Enlightenment Scheme.

Thank you to our friends at Kings Place and Oxford Mathematical Institute

Polyphony Ave Verum Corpus by William Byrd (1543-1623) Ave verum corpus, Natum de Maria Virgine: Vere passim immolato In cruce pro homine.

Hail, true body, born of the Virgin Mary: truly you suffer, offered in sacrifice on the cross for man.

Caius latus perforatum Unda fluxit sanguine: Esto nobis praegustatum In mortis examine.

From whose pierced side flowed the bloodL may we have tasted of you when we come to the hour of death.

O dulcis, o pie, o Jesu, Fili Mariae, miserere mei. Amen.

O gentle, loving Jesus, Son of Mary, have mercy on me. Amen.

Reading Extract from Messy by Tim Harford (b.1973)

For some organisations, filing in triplicate may be unavoidable. For most of us, such a system is a colossal waste of time, space and energy. If you need to file physical documents, what about the following beautiful alternative, invented by Japanese economist Yukio Noguchi? Forget about categories. Instead, place each incoming document in a large envelope. Write the envelope’s contents neatly on its edge and line them up on a bookshelf, their contents visible like the spines of books. Now the moment of genius: every time you use an envelope, place it back on the left of the shelf. Over time, recently used documents will shuffle themselves towards the left and never-used documents will accumulate on the right. Archiving is easy: every now and again, you remove the documents on the right. To find any document, simply ask yourself how recently you’ve seen it. It is a filing system that all but organises itself, and it has won many fans. But wait a moment. Isn’t there something strangely familiar about the arrangement? Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman, authors of the exuberant book A Perfect Mess, offer the following suggestion: ‘Turn the row of envelopes so that the envelopes are stacked vertically instead of horizontally, place the stack on your desktop, and get rid of the envelopes.’ After following those instructions, what have you got? Any old pile of papers on a messy desk. Every time you pull a document out, you replace it on the top of the pile. Unused documents gradually settle at the bottom. Of course this arrangement lacks the neat labelling of the Noguchi system, but it offers intuitive physical clues such as the thickness of a document, the shade of the paper, the appearance of dog-ears of Post-it notes. These signals are fallible, but they can be powerful. This is not to argue that a big pile of paper is the best possible filing system. But despite appearances, it’s very far from being a random assortment. A messy desk isn’t nearly as chaotic as it at first seems. There’s a natural tendency towards a very pragmatic system of organisation based simply on the fact that the useful stuff keeps on getting picked up and left on top of the pile. Read by Cecelia Bruggemeyer, Bass


BWV 81 Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen? (Jesus sleeps, what shall I hope for?) J.S. Bach 1685-1750 Arie Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen? Seh ich nicht Mit erblasstem Angesicht Schon des Todes Abgrund offen?

Aria Jesus sleeps, what should be my hope? Do I not see with pallid face death’s abyss already open?

Recitativo Herr! Warum trittest du so ferne? Warum verbirgst du dich zur Zeit der Not, Da alles mir ein kläglich Ende droht? Ach, wird dein Auge nicht durch meine Not beweget So sonsten nie zu schlummern pfleget? Du wiesest ja mit einem Sterne Vordem den neubekehrten Weisen, Den rechten Weg zu reisen. Ach leite mich durch deiner Augen Licht, Weil dieser Weg nichts als Gefahr verspricht.

Recitative Lord! why do you walk so far away? Why do you hide yourself in the time of my distress when everything threatens me with a lamentable end? Ah, is your eye not moved by my distress that at other times is never accustomed to sleep? You showed with a star once to the newly converted wise men the right way to travel. Ah guide me by the light of your eyes since this way promises nothing but danger.

Arie Die schäumenden Wellen von Belials Bächen Verdoppeln die Wut. Ein Christ soll zwar wie Wellen stehn, Wenn Trübsalswinde um ihn gehn, Doch suchet die stürmende Flut Die Kräfte des Glaubens zu schwächen.

Aria The foaming waves of Belial’s streams redouble their rage. A Christian should stand like a rock when the winds of affliction go over it, for the raging flood seeks to weaken faith’s strength.

Arioso Ihr Kleingläubigen, warum seid ihr so furchtsam?

Arioso You people of little faith, why are you so fearful?

Arie Schweig, aufgetürmtes Meer! Verstumme, Sturm und Wind! Dir sei dein Ziel gesetzet, Damit mein auserwähltes Kind Kein Unfall je verletzet.

Aria Be silent, towering sea! Keep quiet , storm and wind ! Let a limit be set for you, so that my chosen child no mischance may harm.

Recitativo Wohl mir, mein Jesus spricht ein Wort, Mein Helfer ist erwacht, So muss der Wellen Sturm, des Unglücks Nacht Und aller Kummer fort.

Recitative How happy I am, my Jesus speaks a word, my helper is awake, and so the waves’ storm, the night’s misfortune and all cares must vanish.

Choral Unter deinen Schirmen Bin ich für den Stürmen Aller Feinde frei. Laß den Satan wittern, Laß den Feind erbittern, Mir steht Jesus bei. Ob es itzt gleich kracht und blitzt, Ob gleich Sünd und Hölle schrecken, Jesus will mich decken. Translation by Francis Browne

Chorale Beneath your protection I am free from storms and all enemies. Let Satan sniff around, let the enemy be exasperated Jesus stands by me. Though there is thunder and lightning, thought sin and hell terrify, Jesus will protect me.

J.S. Bach - Church Cantatas BWV 81


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Biographies Bethany Horak-Hallett British mezzo-soprano Bethany Horak-Hallett read Music at Leeds University and went on to gain a Masters in Music Performance followed by a Masters in Vocal Studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. She currently studies with Sherman Lowe. Bethany is a Rising Star of the Enlightenment, was a finalist in the 2020 Cesti Competition at the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music and recently won Second Prize in the 2021 International Handel Singing Competition. Bethany’s opera engagements have included Kitchen Boy Rusalka for Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester / Robin Ticciati; Woman Katya Kabanova at Glyndebourne; Cupid Venus and Adonis, Venere Il Ballo delle Ingrate and Enchanted Lady in Caccini La Liberazione di Ruggiero at the Brighton Early Music Festival; Cherubino Le Nozze di Figaro with the Merry Opera Company, Dorabella Cosi fan Tutte with London Young Sinfonia, Second Witch Dido & Aeneas at the Milton Abbey International Music Festival, Taa in Lewis Coenen-Rowe Collision at the Grimebourne Festival and Nerone L’Incoronazione di Poppea at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. On the concert platform Bethany has appeared with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment singing Bach cantatas directed by Steven Devine, the St John Passion with Mark Padmore and Elijah with Masaaki Suzuki. She recently made her BBC Proms début with the Monteverdi Choir / Sir John Eliot Gardiner singing Handel Dixit Dominus and appeared with the English Chamber Orchestra / James Sherlock. Bethany recorded Cupid in John Eccles Semele with the Academy of Ancient Music / Julian Perkins. Her recent and future engagements include a tour with Holland Baroque, Bach and Handel with the Academy of Ancient Music and City of London Sinfonia, filming Messiah for the Voces8 Foundation Live from London festival plus Bach Cantatas and Galatea in Handel Aci, Galatea e Polifemo with the OAE in London. James Way James was winner of the 2nd Prize in the 62nd Kathleen Ferrier Awards at Wigmore Hall. He is a former Britten-Pears Young Artist, a laureate of both the Les Arts Florissants ‘Jardin des Voix’ and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s Rising Stars young artist programmes, and was awarded an Independent Opera Voice Fellowship. James was selected to participate in Barbara Hannigan’s inaugural Equilibrium Young Artists Programme. Opera credits include his debuts with Staatsoper Berlin in Purcell King Arthur (AKAMUS and René Jacobs) and with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Jakub Hrůša as the Holy Fool Boris Godunov at the Royal Festival Hall; Lechmere Owen Wingrave for Grange Park Opera, Sellem in a worldwide tour of The Rake’s Progress under the baton of Barbara Hannigan; Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (Tempo) for Opéra national de Montpellier under Thibault Noally; the Young King in George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence at St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre; the Ballad Singer Owen Wingrave for the Aldeburgh and Edinburgh International Festivals c. Mark Wigglesworth and Davy in Roxanna Panufnik’s new opera Silver Birch for Garsington Opera. Future engagements include a return to Berlin Staatsoper and his house debut for Zurich Opera.

Biographies Dominic Sedgwick British baritone Dominic Sedgwick is a graduate of the prestigious Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and is a Rising Star of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons. Highlights of the 2021/22 season include a return to the Royal Opera House as Marullo in a new Oliver Mears production of Rigoletto, the role of Mark-Anthony in the world premiere of Julius Caesar by Giorgio Battistelli’s at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and his company debut with Opéra National de Bordeaux performing Belcore L’Elisir d’amore. Upcoming engagements include further roles for the Royal Opera and debuts for Théâtre Luxembourg, Nevill Holt Opera and Grange Park Opera. Previous recent engagements include his company debut for the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence singing Merlot in a new production of Tristan und Isolde conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, the English Clerk in a critically acclaimed new production of Death in Venice by David McVicar and a livestream performance of Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel/Die Seben Todsünden, both for the Royal Opera. On the concert platform he makes his Canadian debut performing Handel’s Messiah with the National Arts Center Orchestra with Bernard Labadie, with recent concert engagements including Messiah with the OAE and the RLPO, Pilate in Bach’s Matthäus-Passion at the BBC Proms with Arcangelo and Jonathan Cohen, concert arias with the OAE at the Bonn Beethoven Festival, as well as a number of concerts with the OAE featuring Bach Cantatas as part of their Bach, the Universe and Everything series at Kings Place. In the Royal Opera’s 2018/19 season Dominic performed in two Olivier Award winning productions as Novice’s Friend Billy Budd (also covering the title role in Deborah Warner’s production) and Kuligin Katya Kabanova directed by Richard Jones. He also performed as Moralès and Dancaïre Carmen. His cohort of Jette Parker artists were nominated for a 2020 Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Opera’. He made his Royal Opera debut in 2017 as Marullo Rigoletto, with further roles in the 2017/18 season including Second Nazarene Salome, Moralès Carmen and Third Ghost Child Coraline (Mark-Anthony Turnage). He trained at GSMD and continues to study with Robert Dean. He previously read Theology at Clare College, Cambridge.

Biographies Steven Devine Steven Devine enjoys a busy career as a music director and keyboard player working with some of the finest musicians. He made his London conducting debut in 2002 at the Royal Albert Hall and is now a regular performer there - including making his Proms directing debut in August 2007, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Since 2007 Steven has been the harpsichordist with London Baroque in addition to his position as Principal Keyboard Player with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He has recorded over forty discs with other artists and ensembles and made many solo recordings including Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and Goldberg Variations. Steven is Early Keyboard Consultant at both the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and a regular teacher and examiner at many other institutions. Tim Harford Tim is an economist, journalist and broadcaster. He is author of How To Make the World Add Up / The Data Detective, Messy, and the million-selling The Undercover Economist. Tim is a senior columnist at the Financial Times, and the presenter of BBC Radio’s More or Less, How To Vaccinate The World, and Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy, as well as the podcast Cautionary Tales. Tim has spoken at TED, PopTech and the Sydney Opera House. He is an associate member of Nuffield College, Oxford and an honorary fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. Tim was made an OBE for services to improving economic understanding in the New Year honours of 2019. Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Three decades ago, a group of inquisitive London musicians took a long hard look at that curious institution we call the Orchestra, and decided to start again from scratch. They began by throwing out the rulebook. Put a single conductor in charge? No way. Specialise in repertoire of a particular era? Too restricting. Perfect a work and then move on? Too lazy. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was born. Please visit for more information, videos, podcasts and blogs.

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