Malcolm Proud is Emeritus Organist at St. Canice’s Cathedral Kilkenny. He has performed on many historic organs including the 15th century instrument at Valère-Sion in Switzerland, the 1565 Antegnati in Mantua, the 1610 Compenius at Frederiksborg in Denmark and the 1766 Riepp at Ottobeuren near Munich. He has given organ recitals in Boston and Virginia (USA). His CD of Bach’s Clavierübung III, recorded on the Metzler organ at Stein am Rhein in Switzerland, was released in 2008. In 2010 he played all of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos with Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s English Baroque Soloists at the London Proms and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival. He is harpsichordist with the Irish Baroque Orchestra and has worked with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music, European Union Baroque Orchestra and Akademie für alte Musik Berlin. His ensemble Camerata Kilkenny has performed in Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Latvia, Estonia, France, Germany and Finland. A CD of Bach arias and Swedish folk hymns with soprano Maria Keohane for Maya Recordings was released in 2019. In November 2018 he curated a series of concerts at the NCH to mark the 350th anniversary of François Couperin’s birth.
Irish mezzo-soprano Sharon Carty is a singer who has firmly established a reputation as a respected interpreter of both early and contemporary works, alongside maintaining a busy schedule in mainstream opera and concert repertoire. She is an alumna of the RIAM Dublin, MDW Vienna, and Oper Frankfurt Young Artist Programme, and is currently an Artistic Partner to Irish National Opera as well as a Creative Associate on the Irish Arts Council pilot “Creative Schools” scheme. Most recently, she was announced as “Maynooth Campus Associate Artist” for NUI Maynooth and the Pontifical University Maynooth for 2020/2021.
Regularly praised for her musicality and intelligence, her integrity as an artist and the warmth, clarity and agility of her voice, her opera repertoire includes many of the important lyric and coloratura mezzo-soprano roles, such as Hänsel, Dido, Ruggiero, Dorabella, Cherubino, Ariodante, Orfeo and Sesto. On the concert platform her repertoire spans most of the major sacred concert works, including all the principal works by J. S .Bach as well as Messiah, Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor and a broad song repertoire in addition to numerous chamber music works. She is also a dedicated song recitalist, most recently appearing in performances with pianists Finghin Collins, Jonathan Ware and Graham Johnson.
Career highlights to date include her London, Amsterdam and New York opera debuts with The Second Violinist at the Barbican Theatre, the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Park Avenue Armory, her Wexford Festival Opera debut as Lucy Talbot in the European première of William Bolcom’s Dinner at Eight, the title role in Irish National Opera’s critically-acclaimed Orfeo ed Euridice and her debut at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, where she premiered a new opera, Proserpine by Silvia Colasanti, to critical acclaim.
A regular collaborator with orchestras across Europe, her discography includes La Traviata on Naxos DVD with the NDR Radiophilharmonie alongside Thomas Hampson and Marina Rebeka as well as The Mountebanks (Gilbert/Cellier) on CD with the BBC Concert Orchestra. Her most recent CD, a disc of Schubert songs with pianist Jonathan Ware, was released in May 2020.
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Eleven Chorale Preludes Op. 122
Mein Jesu, der du mich zum Lustspiel ewiglich (Jesu, my delight for ever)
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (Adorn thyself, my soul)
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele, BWV 654
Herzliebster Jesu, was has du verbrochen? (Dearest Jesu, what was your crime?)
O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen (Blessed are ye faithful souls)
O Gott, du frommer Gott (O God, thou faithful God)
Herzlich tut mich erfreuen (My heart rejoices)
Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (A rose has sprung up)
Herzlich tut mich verlangen nach einem sel’gen End (I desire a joyful end) BWV 727
Herzlich tut mich verlangen
Herzlich tut mich verlangen
O Welt, ich muß dich lassen (O World, I must leave you)
O Welt, ich muß dich lassen
After Brahms’ death in April 1897, the manuscript of eleven preludes based on Lutheran chorales was found on his desk. Ever since the final illness of his revered friend Clara Schumann a year before, Brahms’ thoughts had turned towards his own mortality; he must have known that he too was nearing the end as he was suffering from liver cancer, the same illness that had killed his father. During the couple of months leading up to Clara’s death Brahms had composed his Four Serious Songs op. 121, settings of biblical texts. Brahms now turned to the organ for his final compositions, an instrument for which he had written nothing since early in his career.
It seems that the first seven of the chorale preludes had been prepared for publication before Brahms died. In the fair copy made for the publication the order of the pieces was changed and the composer made some corrections. I have decided to play the pieces in the original sequence, that found in the manuscript - with one exception. The sixth prelude in the manuscript is a setting of ‘O Welt, ich muß dich lassen’. I will play it second last so that it comes immediately before the other prelude based on this chorale. I have interposed two chorale preludes by Johann Sebastian Bach which serve to contrast the two composers’ approaches to setting the same melodies. Bach’s prelude on ‘Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele’, with its elegant, sarabande rhythm, was much admired by both Robert Schumann and Mendelssohn. Besides, the influence of Bach can be discerned in several of Brahms’ preludes: for example the fugal texture of ‘Mein Jesu, der du mich zum Lustspiel ewiglich’ and the sighing motives used so often by Bach to express lamentation, heard in Brahms’ first setting of ‘O Welt, ich muß dich lassen’.
Sharon Carty will sing the first verse of each chorale before its corresponding prelude.