Arts & Entertainment

Valentine's Day Recital Features NJ Symphony Strings Duo

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Violinist and NJ Symphony Orchestra Associate Concertmaster Brennan Sweet will perform in a Bach to Handel Recital at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Westfield. Credits: Courtesy Brennan Sweet
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Jonathan Spitz, principal cellist with the NJ Symphony Orchestra, will perform in tandem with violinist Brennan Sweet. Credits: Courtesy Jonathan Spitz
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WESTFIELD, NJ - Music lovers looking for a special way to celebrate Valentine's Day can spend it at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Westfield when The Friends of Music presents a Valentine’s Day Bach to Handel program, beginning at 4 p.m. 

Baroque composers Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederic Handel are featured on this Sunday afternoon. The recital is performed in tandem by violinist Brennan Sweet, associate concertmaster of The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and Jonathan Spitz, NJSO’s celebrated principal cellist.  

Violinist Sweet will perform Bach’s Partita III in E Major for solo violin (BWV 1006), composed in 1720 in six movements: Preludio, Loure, Menuets (I and II), Bourrée and Gigue. This piece typically celebrates the various dances and dance tempos popular in the early 18th Century/late Baroque period. For example, the lyrical Loure, (gigue lente), a slow French Baroque dance, is followed by the more lively Gavotte en Rondeau which, says Sweet, “should set toes tapping.” 

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Cellist Spitz will perform Bach’s Cello Suite II in D minor for solo cello (BWV 1008) (1717-23), composed, likewise, in a symmetrically conceived cycle of Preludio followed by five Baroque dance-type variations.  Unlike Bach’s Partita III, this Suite did not become widely known and popular until 1936-39, when cellist Pablo Casals became the first to record it, at Abbey Road Studios in London. Spitz is praised for his interpretation of this dramatic, deeply soulful work. 

Sweet and Spitz will cap the February 14 Recital with a vivacious, inspirational duet -- The Passacaglia from Handel’s Suite in G minor (HWV 432), arranged for violin and cello by Johan Halvorsen. Described as a theme-based “series of thrilling variations in a tour de force of musical invention,” this work is nicknamed “The Impossible,alluding to the difficulty of creating full, four-part harmony with only two instruments. Notes St. Paul’s Music Director Charles M. Banks, “It will culminate what promises to be a wonderful afternoon of music of the highest caliber performed by two consummate guest artists!”  

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is located at 414 E. Broad Street (near Euclid Ave.) in Westfield.  Tickets at the door are $20.  Students and parking are free.  Following the recital, attendees are invited to meet and greet Sweet and Spitz at a reception in the Cloister.  For more information, contact Director Banks at 908-451-5082, or e-mail cbnj123@verizon.net

 

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