music for the 2. Sunday of Advent – Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Magnificat à 3 voix sur la même basse avec symphonie H.73

by ada

In my opinion, there is no way to express some “typically Catholic” emotions more beautifully than French Baroque church music does.* I’ve already stated my undying love both for the French music of those few decades at the turn of 18th century and for the ostinato arias** in general, so let’s get the two genres mixed! Could music get ever better than that? (This is a rhetorical question.)

So for the 2. Sunday of Advent let’s have a real gem of all things French Baroque, one of the ten Magnificats composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (you know, the guy who has written that oh so famous Te Deum everybody knows). It’s based on the four-bars ground of the descending tetrachord of a Passacaille, set in G minor which is, in Charpentier’s own words, a key that’s “Serieux et Magnifique“.***, ****, *****

* sorry people, I’m just simply no fan of either Gregorian music or Renaissance polyphony. Been there, done that and found something else that suits me better. No offense tough.

** everybody loves ostinato arias, even those who aren’t aware of it. Ostinato grounds are the roots of the pop (and sometimes rock and death black heavy metal) of any musical era. Even that of ours, right now.

*** Règles de Composition par Monsieur Charpentier, written around 1690

**** although in 1806 the characteristics of the G minor key are already described by Daniel Schubart as “bad-tempered gnashing of teeth”. Poor key seems to have lost a great deal of its magnificence throughout the years.

***** I’m getting crazy with all these stars and footnotes. Maybe I should stop using them at all.

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