May 21, 2015
May 20, 2015
May 19, 2015
May 18, 2015
May 17, 2015
May 16, 2015
May 15, 2015
1. The last of Easter chocolate.
2. Random hearts.
Spring summer weather…
spring summer clouds.
5. Art on walls…
6. …and on jam jar lids.
7. Cat posters.
9. …and roses that don’t lose their colour.
10. The inside of this tea box.
11. These missing two volumes I found at a flea market to Volume 2 that I’ve already had.
12. Visiting the Taizé prayer semi-regularly again (I wish they’d let go of the accordeon, though).
May 14, 2015
May 12, 2015
May 1, 2015
April 30, 2015
April 27, 2015
Oh, well. It took me very little time to break my New Year’s resolution of never falling months behind with posting. Seriously, I don’t even remember anymore what I did in March, but fortunately I can look it up (now I know why I keep this blog: it has the function of my non-existent memory skills, haha).
So, according to this blog, in March I:
…contemplated 14th century minnesänger life,
…admired old clocks and watches:
…was waiting for spring for what it felt like another hundred-and-sixty-six years…
…until it finally arrived:
…discovered new parts of Vienna:
…spent an afternoon in St Pölten:
…and an another one in Klosterneuburg,
…where I visited the orchid exhibition…
…and saw some beautiful flowers arranged in rather questionable ways:
…met the Easter Bunny (-ies. All of them)…
…who brought some giant Easter Eggs with them:
Einstein was there too:
At the end of the month I had my spring holiday which I spent at home in Budapest…
…and The Cat:
April 26, 2015
Now, with May just around the corner, I suddenly feel like it’s time to recall what I read almost two months ago, haha:
Erle Stanley Gardner: Perry Mason und der Tote im Rollstuhl – because I want Della Street’s life
Gabriel García Márquez: Von der Liebe und anderen Dämonen – because, once upon a time, I
had brains used to enjoy Real Literature
Paul J. Frost: Elcserélt elmék – because, birthday book, featuring dogs
Antonia Fraser: Die Nonne – because a murder mystery amongst Catholic nuns is the best bedtime story
Erlend Loe: Ich bring mich um die Ecke – because I loved Doppler and wasn’t left disappointed by this book either
April 25, 2015
April 23, 2015
April 23, 2015
April 14, 2015
April 13, 2015
April 13, 2015
April 12, 2015
April 9, 2015
April 7, 2015
April 6, 2015
music for Easter Monday – Aria “Seele, deine Spezereien” from Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Oratorium Festo Paschali”, BWV 249
For my last music post of this Lent/Easter period let’s listen to one of the Great Traverso Moments of the Bach cantatas: Seele, deine Spezereien from the Easter Oratorio. The first version of it was performed almost exactly 290 years ago, on 1725 April 1. And, although I tend to find that Johann Adolf Scheibe‘s criticism of Bach’s “allzugrosse Kunst” actually has some truth in it, this music is still much more beautiful than anything else written during the past 290 years.
April 5, 2015
François Couperin (le Grand! – indeed he was great), court musician, composer and harpsichord teacher of the Sun King, Louis XIV, composed this Easter motet around 1700. It was most likely performed by his cousin, Marguerite-Louise Couperin, a soprano singer of the Chapelle Royale. Happy Easter!
April 4, 2015
music for Holy Saturday – “Jordanis conversus est retrorsum” from Jean-Joseph de Mondonville’s great motet “In exitu Israel”
Passover-themed music for today: Psalm 114, part of the prayer that is recited during the Seder meal, set to music by Jean-Joseph de Mondonville, the favourite composer* of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, also known as Madame Pompadour, the maitresse of Louis XV.
The great motet In exitu Israel was composed in 1753 and is the only piece by Mondonville I’ve ever played. My favourite movement is the third, when the river Jordan turns back: Jordanis conversus est retrorsum. Happy Passover!
* No wonder. Mondonville was rather sexy**
** He was also happily married to the best sight-reader musician of Paris, the harpsichord player Anne-Jeanne Boucon***
*** I apparently have a thing for long-deceased, married men, haha.
April 4, 2015
Die Kreuzigung (The Crucifixion) from the famous and unique collection Die Rosenkranzsonaten (The Rosary/Mystery Sonatas) composed by Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, one of the greatest violin virtuoso of the 17th century, for the Salzburg archbishop Maximilian Gandolph Graf von Kuenburg, around 1675.
I’m somewhat overwhelmed by the thought of speaking about this piece – more by its historical background than by its religious symbolism though. How could I explain 17th century Catholic customs, scordatura tuning, meantone temperament, stylus fantasticus and Biber’s role in the evolution of Baroque music in Austria in one short blog post? In English, which is only my third language? Totally hopeless. So let’s forget about facts and numbers and historical sources and listen to this sonata instead. It’s beautiful.
April 3, 2015
For all the stunning church music Antonio Vivaldi composed, he has never gotten to writing a proper passion oratorio. Fortunately, he did compose a Stabat Mater in 1721, the seventh movement of which we can now listen to. Performed by Philippe Jaroussky, because after 8 years of studying the long gone aesthetics of past societies, I only enjoy my soprano arias if sung by males.
April 2, 2015
I wanted to post a typical French Baroque lamentation today but couldn’t set my mind on one particular piece – so I decided to choose something entirely different in style: an aria from Niccolò Jommelli‘s oratorio “Le Lamentazioni del profeta Geremia per il Mercoledi Santo“. I find it fascinating how this piece, written only one year after Johann Sebastian Bach‘s death, is so definitely not-Baroque anymore.
By the way, Jommelli, just like a lot of other composers of his era, had a life I’d swap my own for at any moment, but it’s 2.30 am and I just don’t have the energy to tell more about it right now. So let’s just listen to his (rather cheerful) adaptation of Prophet Jeremiah’s call to repentance.
April 1, 2015
Instruments only for today’s music – one of the quartets that are so typical for the work of Johann Gottlieb Janitsch, the viola da gamba player of the Berlin court of the German emperor Friedrich II (der Große). Its third movement, an Adagio ma non troppo, is an adaptation of the old church hymn O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden. Originally written by Arnulf of Leuven in the 13th century as part of the religious poem Salve mundi salutare/Rhythmica oratio, translated to German by Paul Gerhardt in 1656, adapted to the melody of the love song Mein G’müt ist mir verwirret that appeared first in Hans Leo Haßler‘s 1601 collection Lustgarten neuer teutscher Gesäng, by Johann Crüger already in 1640, but only published in 1656, in the sixth edition of his collection of Protestant church hymns Praxis pietatis melica, and still being a source of inspiration for Janitsch (and co.) somewhere around the middle of the 18th century – this hymn definitively has what we should call a fruitful career.
Although on this recording the melody instruments are the oboe, the violin and the viola, it was originally composed for two violas and the traverso. The latter most likely was played by Friedrich II himself, as he is known to have been an amateur but very enthusiastic and talented flute player (and a lover of music, literature and arts in general. And also a lover of potatoes, but that’s another story). My favourite travelling music historian, Charles Burney has witnessed him playing and, as reported in his Continental Travels 1770-1772, was “much pleased and even surprised” with the King’s musical production. He found it important to mention though, that the capacity of His Royal Lungs has noticeably declined with age and “he was obliged to take his breath, contrary to rule, before the passages were finished”. Poor Friedrich.
March 30, 2015
music for Holy Monday – Aria “Sileant Zephyri” from Antonio Vivaldi’s motet “Filiae maestae Jerusalem” RV 638
According to Antonio Vivaldi, this is how nature mourns the death of Christ – the second movement of one of the two motets he composed as introductions for his now lost Miserere.