Following their sell-out Festival debut performance in 2018, Solomon’s Knot return with an evening of Bach cantatas, music which was later incorporated into his well-known and much loved Christmas Oratorio.
Solomon’s Knot have now firmly established themselves as rising stars in the early music world having appeared at Snape Maltings, and the BBC Proms amongst others events.
Determined to communicate the full power of 17th and 18th Century music as directly as possible, the collective Solomon’s Knot was founded in London in 2008. Led by artistic director Jonathan Sells, the group performs without a conductor, the singers by heart, exploring new ways of presenting ancient music to ‘modern’ ears, eyes and minds.
JS Bach ‘Lasst uns sorgen, lasst uns wachen’ BWV 213
JS Bach ‘Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!’ BWV 214
JS Bach ‘Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen’ BWV 215
“Jauchzet, frohlocket!” These words and the opening timpani ‘fanfare’ form the unmistakeable opening of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, for many in German-speaking countries the musical definition of Christmas, equivalent to Handel’s Messiah in Britain. But this iconic music was in fact first composed for a worldly occasion, the birthday of the Queen of Poland, a year before the Christmas Oratorio was put together, in 1733. The rather prosaic original text, “Tönet ihr Pauken, erschallet Trompeten” (Resound ye drums, ring out ye trumpets), explains the idiosyncratic musical opening, and is the beginning of a fascinating discovery of the original context of music we think we know so well. Secular music reused to accompany the story of the nativity? One might wonder how such ‘upcycling’ could possibly work, until one realises that music originally intended for royal birthdays and coronations was simply being reapplied to celebrate the birth of another king, one whose birthday, and the music now associated with it, would continue to be celebrated for decades and centuries to come.
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The Financial Times