Tempesta di Mare opens new year with ‘Cruel Amaryllis’

by Michael Caruso
Posted 1/18/24

Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, will open the second half of its season with one of its grandest productions.

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Tempesta di Mare opens new year with ‘Cruel Amaryllis’


Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, will open the second half of its 2023-24 concert season with one of the grandest productions in its history. “Cruel Amaryllis, Madrigal Settings for Two Tenors of Lyrics by Guarini, Marino and Rinuccini” will be performed Friday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave.

The ensemble will include tenors James Reese and Jacob Perry, arch-flutist Kevin Payne, theorboist Richard Stone (co-founder/co-director of Tempesta), guitarist/theorboist Paul Morton, and narrator Martin Morell.

The program is divided into four sections: two featuring music by Ottavio Rinuccini, and one apiece of scores by Battista Guarini and Giambattista Marino. The repertoire boasts both vocal and instrumental music composed during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Stone explained that “most of the music does not exist in modern editions and had to be transcribed from the old prints. Although I have no doubt some of these have been performed, it is possible that others will have their first modern hearings on this program.”

For more information call 215-755-8776 or visit

Bach’s Orchestral Suites

Philadelphia’s “other” chamber orchestra specializing in the baroque and classical repertoire, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, will open the new year with two performances of the four Orchestral Suites of Johann Sebastian Bach Friday, Jan. 19, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 21, at 2:30 p.m., in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater.

Guest conducting the ensemble from the harpsichord will be one of the world’s leading organists, Jeffrey Brillhart, the longtime director of music and arts at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. Brillhart recently completed an acclaimed tenure as artistic director of Singing City Choir.

Although the Suites, called “Ouvertures” by Bach himself, have been given consecutive BWV numbers (1066-69), they were not composed in one sitting, as were the six “Brandenburg Concertos.” Their composition was spread out between the years 1724 and 1731. However, like the “Brandenburg Concertos,” they represent Bach’s genius as a composer of instrumental music being every bit as supreme as it is in sacred choral music for the Protestant church.

Like his keyboard suites and partitas, the four Orchestral Suites in C major, B minor, D major and D major, open with an Overture which is then followed by a series of dances and airs.

For more information call 215-545-1739 or visit

All-Mozart Concert

The Philadelphia Orchestra launched the second half of its 2023-24 season of concerts with an all-Mozart program that was performed Jan. 5, 6 & 7 in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. The concert featured acclaimed violin virtuoso Gil Shaham as both conductor and soloist in the Violin Concertos No. 2 in D major, K. 211, and No. 5 in A major, K. 219, plus the Adagio in E major, K. 261, and the Rondo in C major, K. 373, both for solo violin and orchestra.

In a nod to the performance practices of the 18th century, a reduced ensemble of mostly string instruments was seated on the stage of Verizon Hall and Shaham both conducted his instrumental colleagues and soloed in front of them. It wasn’t until well into the 19th century that orchestras were led in concert by a separate conductor who wasn’t playing an instrument themselves.

I first heard Shaham as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra back in the days when the ensemble proffered a full season of six weeks of concerts at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Fairmount Park, then later playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto under the baton of the Philadelphians’ beloved maestro from 1992-2002, Wolfgang Sawallisch.

Since those days of yore, he has lost none of his technical virtuosity but has, indeed, added a profound sense of expressivity and an engaging (rather than pedantic) sense of stylistic integrity to his playing. Through effortless dazzlement, lyrical phrasing, and a flawless feeling for balance with the ensemble as a whole, Shaham led the fabulous Philadelphians in stellar readings of all three scores.

And how beautifully those Philadelphians played music from the very foundation of the classical music symphonic repertoire. Would that we heard them do so more frequently. Despite their reduced numbers, they filled the hall with glorious sounds of transcendent beauty.

I attended the Sunday, Jan. 7, matinee and was delighted to see that Verizon Hall was packed. Future Sunday matinees include Jan. 28, featuring Brahms’ masterpiece, “A German Requiem;” Feb. 4, featuring concertmaster David Kim as soloist in Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons;” and March 17, featuring Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.”

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