Chicago Baroque Ensemble

What sets these Chicago Baroque Ensemble concerts apart from the usual holiday fare is a refreshing disregard for familiarity and timeliness. On the weekend after the New Year, the uncommonly erudite, meticulously musical period-instrument collective will present a survey of mostly German, early Baroque pieces with a focus on Lutheran chorales. Often paraphrasing biblical text and derived from tunes by Martin Luther and his contemporaries, these songs with their contrapuntal splendors invite congregational participation. The CBE offers three specimens, two rare and one a classic. Christian Geist’s “Wieschön Leuchtet der Morgenstern,” with generous stretches of instrumental embellishments, celebrates the marriage between Jesus and the church; Johann Philipp Krieger’s “Träufelt ihr Himmel von Oben” is a devout Christmas cantata that ends in a bout of exhilaration. And Bach’s “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” famously transports the listener into the realm of spiritual ecstasy. Soprano Christine Brandes, a regular on the local early-music scene, has just the radiant, supple voice to convey this sort of religious rapture. Playing the solo trumpet passages in the Bach is Robert Rieder, who’ll use a replica of a 17th-century trumpet whose sound is more brilliant and sweeter than later “improvements.” Rieder, one of a handful of specialists on the notoriously difficult instrument, is showcased in a couple of festive sonatas (including one by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, one of German Baroque’s leading lights). The core of the CBE–violinists Christopher Verrette and Jeri-Lou Zike, violist Susan Rozendaal, viola da gambist John Mark Rozendaal, bassist Jerry Fuller, and harpsichordist Stephen Alltop–will also perform several pastorales. Next Sunday, January 5, 4 PM, Michigan Shores Club, 911 N. Michigan, Wilmette. Monday, January 6, 6 PM, Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson. 773-274-2528.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by William Burlington.