Bach in an appropriate setting
April 13, 2010
By way of disclaimer, I must confess that I have a strong personal bias in favor of Jonathan Salzedo. This is primarily because he describes his Albany Consort as "a place where we can test ideas, avoid the perils of perfectionism, grow musically, have a good time, and not worry too much about whether we can ever be financially viable!" This is so close to how I would describe my own Rehearsal Studio blog that I have to confess that I wish I had written it myself. The other reason is that his approach to performing the music of Johann Sebastian Bach awakens my personal memories of the film, Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach, which, for its time (and possibly still for today), offers one of the best hypotheses of how Bach practiced music when he was on his own time at home. This has less to do with Bach's performance practices and is merely a matter of the setting that the film establishes, which provides us with a new perspective for thinking about how we listen to the music.

...The members of the Albany Consort communicate so well with each other that, even on the altar of Old St. Mary's, this spirit of domestic intimacy came across effectively....

Give us this day our cuppa joe
March 24, 2009 4:19 PM SF Classical Music Examiner Stephen Smoliar

The Albany Consort celebrated the 324th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach (three days late but not even a pfennig short) as today's Noontime Concerts™ event at Old St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco. The feature of the offering was the BWV secular cantata "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht" (once freely translated by a poet friend of mine as "All right, you guys, shut up;  and listen to me!"), known more familiarly as the "Coffee Cantata." The plot (yes, there is one) by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici) concerns an overly-assertive ("Er brummt ja wie ein Zeidelbär"/"he's growling like a honey bear") father, Herr Schlendrian, who cannot abide by his daughter Liegen's coffee fix:

...True to the spirit of the music, soprano Christa Pfeiffer brought her coffee mug (alas, not of period design) as a prop, making the whole offering an opportunity to experience Bach at his most humorous...  Director Jonathan Salzedo conducted from the harpsichord keyboard from which he served as soloist... This made for about an hour of relatively unfamiliar but delightful Bach, which seemed like an excellent way to celebrate his birthday.