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Flutist Joshua Romatowski will perform with the Alchemy Trio

Painting of Frederick the Great at Sanssouci performing a flute concerto with Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach at the keyboard
Painting of Frederick the Great at Sanssouci performing a flute concerto with Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach at the keyboard
by Adolph Menzel, from Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

Those who enjoyed the extended flute solo taken by Joshua Romatowski last Friday evening during the performance of George Frideric Handel’s HWV 55 pastoral ode L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato at the American Bach Soloists Festival may enjoy the opportunity to listen to him perform in a more intimate chamber music setting. (Those who missed him should seriously consider this opportunity as a tempting “second chance!”) Romatowski is currently based in Seattle, but he is an alumnus of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. It is therefore not surprising that he decided to remain in the Bay Area following the Festival for further music-making with fellow alumni and colleagues.

At the end of this week, Romatowski will give a recital with the members of the Alchemy Trio: Natalie Carducci on violin, Gretchen Claassen on cello and gamba, and Derek Tam on harpsichord. This will be a relatively brief performance lasting about 45 minutes with no intermission. There will be three selections on the program, one each by Handel, Georg Philipp Telemann, and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. This might be described as a friends-perform-friends concert, since Telemann was personally acquainted with Handel and influenced by his music and was Bach’s godfather (responsible for the “Philipp” in his name).

The pieces to be performed will be as follows:

  1. Handel: This will be the HWV 396 trio sonata in A major that was the first of the seven sonatas published as Opus 5. This collection was published in 1739, after Handel had established his reputation of a composer of Italian-language operas. The sonata follows Arcangelo Corelli’s four-movement architecture of two slow movements each followed by a fast one. The attentive listener should be able to detect the appropriation of thematic material from Alcina and Ariodante, while those not big on opera may recognize the so-called “Chandos” anthems as a source (which Handel also appropriated for one of his oboe concertos).
  2. Telemann: This will be one of the “Paris” quartets, TWV 43:e4 in E minor (the “e” of the catalog listing). The nickname comes from the fact that this set of six quartets was composed while Telemann was living in Paris in 1738. The composition is in six movements and demonstrates that Telemann knew how to appeal to his audience by taking on many of the major characteristics of the French style.
  3. Bach: This will be the Wq 145 trio sonata in D minor. Bach apparently first wrote this in 1731 as a composition exercise for his teacher (his father Sebastian). However, after Bach moved the Sanssouci to enter the service of Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia (later Frederick the Great), this trio sonata went through a major revision. Frederick was an accomplished flutist, and the music was rewritten to satisfy his stylistic preferences. Frederick would have performed this with Bach’s keyboard accompaniment. The keyboard that Bach used may be uncertain, since Frederick was proud to be an “early adopter” of the fortepiano.

This 45-minute concert will take place this coming Friday, July 25, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The venue will be St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, located at 2390 Bush Street, located in the Western Addition between Steiner Street and Pierce Street. The event will be free and open to the general public. Donations will be accepted at the door for the duration of the evening.

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