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The 3 B's in Performance

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Andrew Schultze, bass-baritone, is well known as an interpreter of the standard opera/oratorio repertoire and as a specialist in the performance of early music.  His operatic cast of characters includes villains, heroes, and buffoons and concert works spanning from the medieval Carmina Burana to Orff’s 20th century masterwork. His performances have been broadcast on television and radio in Europe and in the United States. Schultze was the founder of Ars Musica Chicago and a longtime member of the Austrian early music ensembles the Clemencic Consort and Affetti Musicali, and Italy’s Complesso Sergio Vartolo.  He has recorded for Nonesuch (Bach’s B MINOR MASS with the Bach Ensemble conducted by Joshua Rifkin), Fonit Cetra (the baroque opera L’ORFEO by Antonio Sartorio), Orion and for Belgian, French, and Italian labels.  Mr. Schultze has presented masterclasses and participated in workshops and conferences for The Society for Seventeenth Century Music, the Innsbrucker Musikpaedagogik-Institut, Vienna Baroque Ensemble, University of Pittsburgh, Roosevelt University, and Jianghan University in Wuhan, China. He recently spoke about Vocal Performance Practice at the BAROQUE MUSIC INSTITUTE at Schloss Zell an der Pram in Austria, at Indiana University, the University of Iowa, The National Association of Teachers of SINGING Regional Conference in Dubuque, Iowa, the INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION OF TEACHERS OF SINGING in Vienna, Austria, and at the 2023 MUSIC AND THE FIGURATIVE ARTS IN THE BAROQUE ERA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE in Barcelona, Spain. In November 2024 he will present a paper at the EARLY MODERN ROME CONFERENCE 5:  14-16 NOVEMBER 2024 in Rome, Italy, entitled SINGING “A LA ROMANA”: Vocal Performance Practices in 1630s Rome.

Critically acclaimed as “a passionate pianist and scholar,” Svetlana Belsky is a highly regarded performer, noted for her remarkable rapport with audiences and stylistic versatility. Her recent albums, Into Darkness: Piano Music of 1910-1920 (Sheridan Music Studio, 2021) and Ferruccio Busoni: The Late Works (Ravello, 2019) were selected by Spotify for its Best New Releases list, and received rave reviews from Fanfare, American Record Guide, Whole Note Magazine, and others, and has been heard on radio stations around the world.

Dr. Belsky won the 2019 American Prize in Piano Performance for her earlier recording of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, which American Record Guide described as “an extraordinary performance” and “astounding”. In commemoration of Women’s History Month 2019, Dr. Belsky was awarded the Outstanding Woman Award for Excellence in Music and Theater Arts from the Clerk of Cook County District Court.

Dr. Belsky has toured in Europe, East Asia, Canada and throughout the United States. Her performance credits include Carnegie Recital Hall, Kiev Philharmonic Hall, Dame Myra Hess Series, live recitals on Chicago’s WFMT and New York’s WQXR, and guest appearances with symphony and chamber orchestras.

Belsky is considered an authority on the music, writings and pedagogical legacy of Ferruccio Busoni. Her Doctoral Thesis - an annotated translation of Busoni as Pianist by the Russian musicologist Grigori Kogan, was published by the University of Rochester Press in January 2010, and was nominated for the prestigious Claude V. Palisca Award by the American Musicological Society. According to one reviewer, Belsky “has some claim to call herself Ms. Bach-Busoni”.

song texts
Program notes3Bs

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)


Bach’s COFFEE CANTATA was composed around 1736 for a performance at Zimmermann’s Coffee House in Leipzig.  The protagonists in the drama are Herr Schlendrian (Mister Stick-in-the-Mud) no doubt Bach himself, and his sassy daughter “Little Lizzie” (which was the pet name of his 10 year old daughter Elizabeth).  The libretto is by Christian Friedrich Henrici 1700–1764) who also supplied the texts to numerous sacred and secular cantatas by Bach as well as for his SAINT MATTHEW PASSION.  In this “scene”, Mister Stick-in-the-Mud complains that children are nothing but trouble and that Lizzie never does what she is told.

The Italian Concerto, BWV 971

After transcribing  over a dozen of Concerti Grossi by Vivaldi, Marcello, Telemann and other masters, for the keyboard, Bach set out to perfect the form (where large and small groups of instruments compete or collaborate) by writing one of his own.  The Italian Concerto is one of very few of Bach's works in which he includes dynamic markings -- but, of course, these only indicate the harpsichord manual required for each section.  We pianists must find our own ways to portray the large vs. the small instrument group in the energetic and virtuosic outer movements.  The most remarkable movement is the middle one, in which a gorgeous melody is sung or played by a solo instrument accompanied by 3 string players.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Here are four contrasting songs by Beethoven. The first, GOD’S GLORY is a sacred song published in 1803 based on Psalm 19: “The Heavens are telling the Glory of God and the firmament proclaims His handiwork”.  It will be followed by his 1818 setting of a familiar Irish Patriotic song melody to an unfamiliar text.  Next is a song in Italian whose text was set to music by more composers than any other song text! Beethoven’s setting being but one of 63, all published in 1808. A translation: “Let me lie in an unmarked grave so that you, my ungrateful one, will not be able to shed your poisonous tears on my resting place.” I will conclude with a more up-tempo work: The comical 1810 “SONG OF THE FLEA” from Goethe’s FAUST is sung by Mephistopheles, who tells us of a King who made a Flea his Prime Minister. This prevented the Lords and Ladies of his Court from scratching for fear of crushing the flea! Fortunately, we regular folk can scratch our itches anytime we please.

The 6 Ecossaices WoO 83 are a collection of very short dances connected by a refrain.  They are typical of the jaunty, rhythmic ecossaise style, with constant contrasts, accents, and a feeling of giddy joy.  

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Here are three songs by Johannes Brahms. The first AT THE AGE OF FORTY is a rumination about becoming older to a text by Friedrich Rückert. The second, JUST LIKE A MELODY, describes how a melody blossoms just like the flowers bloom. Its words give it meaning and bring tears to our eyes. The poem is by Klaus Groth (1819- 1899).  The last song is Brahms’s most familiar tune: GOOD EVENING, GOOD NIGHT. A Christmas Song, it is better known as Brahms’s LULLABYE. The first strophe of this “Cradle Song” is from a traditional Folk Song, the second is by the poet Georg Scherer (1824–1909).”

The 3 Intermezzi of  Opus 117  were described by Brahms as "the lullabies of my grief".  The first is prefaced in the score by two lines from an anonymous Scottish ballad, "Lady Anne Bothwell's Lament", translated to German by Johann Gottfried Herder:

Schlaf sanft mein Kind, schlaf sanft und schön!
Mich dauert’s sehr, dich weinen sehn.

Baloo, my babe, lie still and sleep;
It grieves me sore to see thee weep

The miniatures are among the most beautiful of Brahms' works.

We conclude with an excerpt from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony,  the Recitative and ODE TO JOY in which the soloist complains of the music which has come before and promises to sing something more joyous! He sings An Ode to Joy which will bring friendship and brotherhood to all who hear it!




Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)




ARIA:  Hat man nicht mit seinen Kindern Hunderttausend Hudelei!  Was ich immer alle Tage  Meiner Tochter Liesgen sage,  Gehet ohne Frucht vorbei.  Hat man nicht mit seinen Kindern Hunderttausend Hudelei!

RECITATIVE: Du böses Kind, du loses Mädchen, Ach! wenn erlang ich meinen Zweck: Tu mir den Coffee weg!

ARIA:  Mädchen, die von harten Sinnen,  Sind nicht leichte zu gewinnen. Doch trifft man den rechten Ort, O! so kömmt man glücklich fort. Mädchen, die von harten Sinnen….

ARIA: Children are nothing but trouble!  Every day, whatever I tell my daughter Lizzie to do, bears no fruit. Children are nothing but trouble!

RECITATIVE: You naughty child, you nasty girl!  Ah, when will you obey my command and stop drinking coffee?

ARIA: Stubborn little girls are not easy to deal with, however, when one takes the right path, everything is certain to turn out right!  Stubborn little girls are not easy to deal with…

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

DIE EHRE GOTTES AUS DER NATUR…Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1715 - 1769)               

Die Himmel rühmen des Ewigen Ehre;   Ihr Schall pflanzt seinen Namen fort. Ihn rühmt der Erdkreis, ihn preisen die Meere;  Vernimm, o Mensch, ihr göttlich Wort! Wer trägt der Himmel unzählbare Sterne?   Wer führt die Sonn aus ihrem Zelt?  Sie kommt und leuchtet und lacht uns von ferne   Und läuft den Weg gleich als ein Held.

THE GLORY OF GOD IN NATURE: The heavens extol the glory of the Eternal God; Its sound spreads wide His name. The earth and the seas praise Him; Hear, O man, God’s divine word! Who fills the sky with countless stars? Who leads the sun on its course? The sun rises and shines and laughs at us from a distance and moves on His way like a hero. 


Then Soldier come, fill up my glass for we think not of tomorrow, be ours today and we’ll resign all the rest to the fools of sorrow. Thou brother soldier fill my glass and drink to love and glory. For friend- ship, honor, all are thine, thy country, and thy duty.

IN QUESTA TOMBA OSCURA.…Giuseppe Carpani (1752 - 1825)

In questa tomba oscura lasciami riposar; quando vivevo, ingrata,    dovevi a me pensar. Lascia che l'ombre ignude godansi pace almen e  non bagnar mie ceneri  d'inutile velen.

IN THIS DARK TOMB let me rest; when I was alive, ungrateful one, you had to think of me. Allow the naked ghosts enjoy their peace and do not bathe my ashes with your useless, poisonous tears.

FLOHLIED aus Goethe’s FAUST….Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)     

Es war einmal ein König, der hatt' einen großen Floh, den liebt' er gar nicht wenig, Als wie seinen eig'nen Sohn.  Da rief er seinen Schneider, der Schneider kam heran; "Da, miß dem Junker Kleider Und miß ihm Hosen an!" In Sammet und in Seide war er nun angetan, hatte Bänder auf dem Kleide, hatt' auch ein Kreuz daran, Und war sogleich Minister, Und hatt einen großen Stern. Da wurden seine Geschwister Bei Hof auch große Herrn. Und Herrn und Frau'n am Hofe, Die waren sehr geplagt, Die Königin und die Zofe gestochen und genagt, Und durften sie nicht knicken, Und weg sie jucken nicht. Wir knicken und ersticken doch gleich, wenn einer sticht! Ja, wir knicken und ersticken doch gleich wenn einer sticht, wenn einer sticht.

There once was a King who had a gigantic flea whom he loved as if he were his own son. He called for his tailor and when he arrived, he ordered him to dress the flea in aristocratic clothes and to put a pair of pants on him. In velvet and silk he was dressed, he wore ribbons on his coat and a cross on his chest, he was appointed a Minister of State and given a large star. His relatives also became important courtiers. The men and women at court however, were quite tormented, the Queen and her retinue were bitten and bothered and were not allowed to scratch or to shoo them away! However, we can scratch and shoo them away whenever they bite. Yes, we can scratch them whenever they bite!

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

MIT VIERZIG JAHREN….Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866) 

Mit vierzig Jahren ist der Berg erstiegen, Wir stehen still und schaun zurück; Dort sehen wir der Kindheit stilles liegen Und dort der Jugend lautes Glück. Noch einmal schau, und dann gekräftigt weiter Erhebe deinen Wanderstab! Hindehnt ein Bergesrücken sich ein breiter,  Und hier nicht, drüben gehts hinab. Nicht athmend aufwärts brauchst du mehr zu steigen, Die Ebene zieht von selbst dich fort; Dann wird sies ich mit dir unmerklich neigen, Und eh' du's denkst, bist du im Port.

At the age forty we reach the mountain top, we stand in silence and look back. There we see childhood's  joys and the strident energy of our youth. Take one more look and then, strengthened, Take up your walking staff! A broad mountain ridge stretches far away, And the descent lies not here but the other side. You no longer need to gasp your way upwards, the plain draws you on of its own accord; imperceptibly, then, it will descend with you, And before you know it, you will be in port.

WIE MELODIEN ZIEHT ES MIR….Klaus Groth (1819-1899)

Wie Melodien zieht es mir leise durch den Sinn, Wie Frühlingsblumen blüht es und schwebt wie Duft dahin. Doch kommt das Wort und faßt es und führt es vor das Aug’, Wie Nebelgrau erblaßt es und schwindet wie ein Hauch. Und dennoch ruht im Reime Verborgen wohl ein Duft, den mild aus stillem Keime Ein feuchtes Auge ruft.

Just like a melody can imperceptibly flow through my mind,  just like the scent of spring flowers,  it can float away. Yet,  the word holds on to it and brings it before the eye. Like a gray mist it disappears like a puff of breath. And yet, hidden in the rhyme, there remains an aroma, which brings a tear to the eye.


Guten Abend, gut’ Nacht, mit Rosen bedacht, mit Näglein besteckt  schlupf’ unter die Deck’. Morgen früh, wenn Gott will, Wirst du wieder geweckt. Guten Abend, gut’ Nacht, von Englein bewacht! Die zeigen im Traum dir Christkindleins Baum: Schlaf’ nun selig und süß, Schau im Traum’s Paradies.

Good evening, Good night, covered by roses and decorated with carnations you will slide under your blanket, Tomorrow morning, God willing, you will wake up again. Good evening, Good night. God willing, you will wake up again in the morning.  May angels watch over you as you dream about the Christmas Tree.

AN DIE FREUDE….Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805)

 O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!  Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen und freudenvollere. Freude! Freude!  Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken,  Himmlische, dein Heiligthum!  Deine Zauber binden wieder Was die Mode streng geteilt; Alle Menschen werden Brüder, Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Oh friends, not these sounds! Rather let us sing more agreeable and joyful notes. Joy, wonderful scintillation from the Gods, daughter of Elysium. We enter, inebriated by your fire, as heavenly ones into your Holy Place. Your magic binds together what custom has harshly set apart. All people will become brothers under the protection of your gentle wings.


"truly special"

Hearing the “Coffee Cantata” with piano takes a moment or two to get used to; but Belsky’s playing is so convincing it is only a moment. She plays with great style (one is aching to hear her Italian Concerto by the end ...). Schultze has a fine, strong voice and lives the text, with fine diction. Highly enjoyable.

Belsky is allowed to fly solo in the well-known Italian Concerto. Her right-hand articulation in the first movement is a joy, and there is a palpable sense of referring to orchestral techniques here (and rightly so). Ornamentation is tight, left-hand scales are perfectly even.  It is the central movement, an “aria” for solo keyboard, that is truly special, though. The elaborate, seemingly endless melody sings high above perfectly articulated left hand eighth-notes. The finale is an example of superb pianism, listen to the left-hand accuracy, how each note speaks beautifully against the sprightly staccato of the right. 

"absolutely spellbinding performance"

In Questa Tomba Oscura (WoO 133). This last is an absolutely spellbinding performance, Schultze and Belsky in complete accord and playing with complete, immersive concentration. From the tomb to a flea: the “Flohlied” (Song of the Flea) from Goethe’s Faust, itself from the set of six Gesänge, op. 75. Belsky is teasing in her little turns prior to Schultze’s entrance: and how he tells a story. This is absolutely delightful.  The six Ecossaises for solo piano  emerge in one of the finest performances. A set of six short dances connected by a refrain, Belsky projects a feeling of extrovert joy throughout, sometimes adding a pleasingly teasing element to her playing. 

"Brahms playing of great wisdom"

 “Wie Melodien zieht es mir” (form the set of five Lieder, op. 105). Belsky’s contribution is phenomenal in its resonance with Brahms’ harmonic core; Schultze sings the line beautifully, but the ear is often led back to the piano’s beauty. “Wiegenlied”; that cradle song, the one everyone knows., a simply lovely leave-taking, each phrase lovingly caressed by Schultze, underpinned by Belsky’s ever-intelligent playing. Finally for the main body of the disc, though, Brahms’ lovely op. 117 set of three Intermezzi, offered here in myriad autumnal hues by Belsky. Voice-leading, so important in late Brahms, is impeccably rendered; in tandem with this is the subtle use of the sustaining pedal. The atmosphere must remain; but so must clarity. Belsky walks this tightrope superbly. The drooping descents of the second take on huge poignancy here, the melody singing above, perfectly sustained, the chordal section nicely resonant. The final Andante (each intermezzo is a different “shade” of Andante), with its ominous octaves, seems a glimpse into the unknown. Belsky offers Brahms playing of great wisdom.

Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine

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