Houston Early Music’s 2006-07 season opens Friday, September 29 with a return visit by New York-based ARTEK. The ensemble will perform a program of German baroque chamber music: sonatas by Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Philipp Krieger in the seventeenth-century "stylus fantasticus", a sacred Latin motet of astonishing brilliance by Krieger, and sonatas displaying the early eighteenth-century integration of French, Italian and German styles by Philipp Heinrich Erlebach and the incomparable Johann Sebastian Bach. The performance will be at Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice Blvd at 8:00 pm.
The tradition of evening concerts for the middle class in seventeenth and eighteenth century Germany, Abendmusik, began as organ recitals but soon became concerts held in churches of an assortment of vocal and instrumental music – much like the history of ARTEK, which began as a series of organ concerts called "The Art of the Early Keyboard" but quickly evolved into ensemble concerts under the organization's acronymn, ARTEK. Our program presents an assortment of sonatas and cantatas utilizing the instrumental trio combination of violin, viola da gamba and basso continuo, a combination favored by German composers like Buxtehude, Krieger, and Erlebach, all represented on the program. A cantata by Krieger, who was considered one of the outstanding vocal composers of late seventeenth-century, gives us a window into a rarely-heard repertoire outside of Bach and Buxtehude. Two beautiful cantata arias and the Sonata in D major by J.S. Bach complete the program. Written for viola da gamba and harpsichord, the Sonata is here transformed into a sonata for violin, viola da gamba, and basso continuo (but still with a few good licks for the keyboard!) – echoing Bach's own re-vamping of the sonata in G major, which exists both in a trio sonata form and a sonata for obbligato viola da gamba and harpsichord. Accounts of Abendmusik concerts from the period indicate that unruly conduct by the audience during the music was a major problem. We trust that the audience will forgo this part of authentic performance practice!
Founded by harpsichordist/organist Gwendolyn Toth in 1986, ARTEK has gained a reputation for exciting, dramatic performances of baroque music. In addition to the its highly acclaimed performances in New York City, the ensemble has toured widely in North America and Europe including appearances at the Regensburg Tage Alter Musik festival and Boston Early Music Festival, Utrecht Early Music Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Ms. Toth will be joined for the Houston performance by violinist Robert Mealy, gambist Lisa Terry, theorbist Daniel Swenberg and soprano Jessica Tranzillo. A solo organ work has been added for this performance to take advantage of the Bach organ at Christ the King Lutheran Church.
Concert ticket prices are $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors and $10 for students (with student ID). Free admission for children under 15. Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling 713-432-1744. For more information visit www.HoustonEarlyMusic.org.
To learn more about the ensemble visit www.artekearlymusic.org
"All the performances held a listener rapt with their spirit, conviction,
and intelligence." The New York Times
Recordings by artists featured by Houston Early Music are available at
These activities are made possible in part by a grant from the City of Houston through the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County