Posts tagged ‘Lent’

April 3, 2015

music for Maundy Thursday – “Eia Mater” from Antonio Vivaldi’s “Stabat Mater” RV 621

by ada

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.

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April 2, 2015

music for Holy Wednesday – Niccolò Jommelli: Jerusalem convertere

by ada

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

music for Holy Tuesday – Johann Gottlieb Janitsch: Sonata da Camera in G minor

by ada

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

by ada

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.

March 29, 2015

music for Palm Sunday – Aria “Mich vom Stricken meiner Sünden” from Reinhard Keiser’s Brockes Passion

by ada

Another year of the Holy Week Series, already the fourth since my life turned upside down. Four years of not being a musician anymore. How time flies. And while, on a daily basis, I’m already quite comfortable with the fact that I’ll never be a flutist anymore, this is that special time of the year when I really feel pity for myself and can’t stop having those “what if” and “could have been” thoughts. It’s all pointless, of course, because depression isn’t a matter of choice. And while I haven’t touched my instruments in four years, I still have a lot to say about how 18th century music is the best, so let’s talk passion music (instead of mental health woes, haha). Because, according to Baroque Palm Sunday traditions, that’s what one is supposed to listen to on this day.

Of course, no Lent can pass without me mentioning the Brockes Passion, so Brockes Passion it is, the very first version ever, written by the Hamburg composer Reinhard Keiser who, if we believe Johann Mattheson, was “the greatest opera composer of the world”. He was also a lover of good vines (especially Tokay), which, at times, made him behave “more like a cavalier than a musician” (again, if we believe Mattheson, which I personally have no reason not to do.)

Keiser was the first composer to set Barthold Heinrich Brockes’ (a prominent Hamburg politician) libretto Der für die Sünde der Welt gemarterte und sterbende Jesus aus den vier Evangelisten… in gebundener Rede vorgestellt to music in 1712. It was performed in the same year at one of the weekly concerts organised by Brockes at his home to a neat little audience of “over 500 persons” (apparently, Brockes had rather comfortable living conditions, haha). The première was a big success and the libretto became very popular among other German-speaking composers over the next few years. Händel, Telemann, Fasch and even Johann Sebastian Bach wrote their own versions. Here are my takes on some of them from the previous years: Johann Friedrich Fasch, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Georg Philipp Telemann, and some more Telemann (of course it can always be some more Telemann).

 

April 19, 2014

music for Holy Saturday – “Schlaf wohl, ihr seligen Gebeine” from Georg Philipp Telemann’s funeral cantata “Du aber Daniel, gehe hin” (TWV 4:17)

by ada

Georg Philipp Telemann, who is one of my favourite composers, was a fascinating character, a Renaissance man of the Baroque era, a self-made musician who mastered about every instrument he composed for and who, at the age of 80, was still mentally active enough to create a tuning system based on logarithmic principles. He was also friends with Johann Sebastian Bach, godfather to his second son, Carl Philipp Emanuel and pen pals with Georg Friedrich Händel.

He composed his funeral cantata, betitled Du aber Daniel, gehe hin as his first wife died in childbirth after only 15 months of marriage. The lyrics of its closing choir movement Schlaf wohl, ihr seligen Gebeine (Sleep well, you sacred bones) is based loosely on the text of the Brockes-Passion (which I feel the need to mention every day lately, but well, it’s quite difficult not to be aware of its significance if speaking of Baroque Passion music).

PS.: The last two years’ posts were a Miserere of Zelenka (of course! Zelenka!) and two Jewish liturgical pieces written for the Amsterdam Synagogue by Cristiano Giuseppe Lidarti. I’m planning to do a series on Baroque synagogal music soon in case I ever manage to finish the Salzburg Series during my lifetime, which at this point seems rather unlikely, haha.

April 18, 2014

music for Good Friday – Lamentu di Ghjesu

by ada

For today’s music let’s go back to the ancient Corsican tradition of performing the Passion story during the procession of Good Friday: Lamentu di Ghjesu, based upon the folia theme, which is probably the oldest known ostinato ground (a harmonical line played repeatedly while the player/singer improvises a melody upon it). I could write pages about its origin and use through the centuries* without making you understand what it actually is, so let’s make it really simple instead:

  1. You have a few bars long harmony line that goes on and on and on, always in the same way
  2. Try to sing the main music theme of Vangelis1492 upon it
  3. Does it fit?
    a) Yes, it does – congratulations, you have a folia!
    b) No, it does not
      • it must be some other ostinato line
      • sorry, you probably didn’t sing it properly, try it again

Christina Pluhar‘s band L’Arpeggiata has been lately accused in early music circles** with “popularizing” early music, but I’m not sure if this expression really fits what they do, and even if it does, I don’t mind it at all. Because, actually, that’s exactly what this music needs: to made be known and loved by as many people as just possible. And, a fact that most of these devoted and oh so critical early music players tend to forget: this kind of music was intended to be performed mostly by common people. Just for pleasure. With no higher purpose than to serve everyday life events and/or to entertain. It should be taken for what it is: popular music at its best. 

PS: While last year’s Good Friday music was the great classic Es ist vollbracht from the Johannespassion, the year before I posted another, very beautiful Corsican passion song on another ancient ostinato line: Maria (sopra la Carpinese).

* I’ve actually done this for one of my music theory courses at the university

** not that I’ve had anything to do with early music circles since my depression other than writing vague, very unprofessional music posts twice a year, haha

April 18, 2014

music for Maundy Thursday – Johann Friedrich Fasch: “Mich vom Stricke meiner Sünden” (Passio Jesu Christi, FWV F:1)

by ada

For Maundy Thursday (is there any part of the world where it is still Thursday?) let’s have another version of the Brockes-Passion, composed by another Bach-contemporary and former Sängerknabe of the famous Thomasschule of Leipzig, Johann Friedrich Fasch. Although they have not met at Leipzig (having been at the same age, Fasch just finished his study years ten years before Bach arrived to begin his teaching career at a position that was originally intended for Fasch); their sons, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Karl Friedrich Christian Fasch were friends and even roommates when both employed at the Potsdam court of Friedrich the Great. Their job was to play continuo for the king, a flute player and amateur composer himself, whose teacher was Johann Joachim Quantz, the author of the the bible of all traverso players of all times (myself included), Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen, which is an endless source of information on the performance practice of the first half of the 18th century. 

Back to Papa Fasch – although he composed numerous cantatas and some other vocal works, this is his only oratorio. The opening movement is a nice choral in a polyphonic setting, the violins doubled with oboes, which is a great plus in my eyes. The voice of the Baroque oboe is one of the (very few) things that make life bearable.  

Two years ago I posted Pater dimitte illis from the oratorio Agonia di Cristo (Le Ultime Sette Parole) by Niccolò Jommelli with some stunning obligato bassoon part. Last year’s music for Maundy Thursday was Jesus in Gethsemane by Francesco Antonio Rosetti, which unfortunately seems to have disappeared off the face of the Earth YouTube since then. That’s what happens to good music in our days. I am so sad.   

April 16, 2014

music for Holy Wednesday – Jan Dismas Zelenka: Lamentatio I pro Hebdomana sancta, ZWV 53

by ada

According to my own tradition I’m supposed to post something French today. Two years ago I wrote about the most beautiful Tenebrae music of all times, Troisième Leçon de Ténèbres pour deux voix composed by the 18th century royal harpsichord teacher François Couperin. Last year it was Leçon de Mercredi by another royal harpsichord teacher, Michel Delalande. I can’t make up my heart to leave my eternal love and longterm imaginary boyfriend, Jan Dismas Zelenka completely out of this year’s series though, so for Holy Wednesday let’s listen to one of his beautiful lamentations, Lamentatio I pro Habdomana sancta, based upon Prophet Jeremiah’s laments. While it’s definitely not French music, it fits the Tenebrae-tradition perfectly. 

April 16, 2014

music for Holy Tuesday – Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel: Brockes-Passion

by ada

I again feel overwhelmed by the amount of beautiful music composed for this special time of the year – I wish I could listen to the Bach-Passions all the time and call it done without missing out on everything that led to them: the smaller composers and their small steps on the way to Bach’s perfection. Fortunately I have a thing for small composers and their imperfect music that makes me happy without making me hate myself (which is the case if I listen to too much Bach at a time, haha). So for Holy Tuesday let’s have a so-called “small composer”, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Bach’s contemporary who, before ending up as a Kapellmeister at the court of Gotha, travelled through Europe serving in cities like Rome, Prague and Wrocław, made friends with names like Vivaldi, Fasch and Bononcini and gained a reputation in the eyes of his peers as high as Johann Sebastian Bach himself. He even made it into Johann Mattheson‘s Grundlage einer Ehren-Pforte*, a collection of contemporary musicians’ biographies. One of his compositions (Bist du bei mir) is included in the collection of small exercise pieces Bach edited together for his son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and that was later passed on to his second wife, Anna Magdalena Bach. Unfortunately only a small amount of Stölzel’s work survived his successor Jiří Antonín Benda‘s  ruthless selection process, who considered the majority of them simply as “useless junk”. 

After Barthold Heinrich Brockes published his libretto Der für die Sünde der Welt gemarterte und sterbende Jesus in 1712, it became quickly a thing of fashion to set it to music. People like Händel, Telemann, Fasch and even Bach (in his Johannespassion) all made their versions of it and so did Stölzel in 1725. His Brockes-Passion has a stunning first and an airy, sweet last movement and some (quite uninteresting but very German Baroque) filling in between. Since it is one of all the twelve of his surviving works, it is really worth listening to.

* Well, he actually submitted himself, because he had a sense of business. But hey, that’s how the world of music works, even today. All you need is the ability to promote yourself in a shameless way and make as much superficial friendships as possible for future use. Being talented and/or a good musician is only an added plus, not the least mandatory.  

PS: in 2012 I posted something Early Italian: the Stabat Mater of Giovanni Felice Sances. In 2013 it was another version of the Brockes-Passion, that of Georg Philipp Telemann

April 14, 2014

music for Holy Monday – aria “Sventurati miei sospiri” from Giovanni Battista Ferrandini’s cantata “Il pianto di Maria”

by ada

The genre of “The Virgin’s Lament”, the passion story told from the perspective of Mary, originates from around the 5th century and has its roots in the Byzantine rite built on that particular teaching of the Council of Ephesus in 431 which declares Mary not only as the mother of Christ but also as the mother of God. It appears in various literary forms and musical settings throughout the centuries, but its purpose is always the same: to express the suffering of a mother who has to watch his son being unjustly killed. 

The aria Sventurati miei sospiri is part of the cantata Il pianto di Maria (Cantata sacra da cantarsi dinanzi al Santo Sepolcro) which, for a very long time was attributed to Georg Friedrich Händel but was actually composed by Giovanni Battista Ferrandini, an 18th century Italian composer. I really would love to share the intimate details of his life here but unfortunately the only sensational thing ever happened to him was having the 15-year-old Mozart play at his house while on one of his Wunderkind-tours in 1771.

Last year’s music for Holy Monday was the choir movement He smote all the first-born of Egypt from Georg Friedrich Händel‘s oratorio Israel in Egypt.

April 14, 2014

music for Palm Sunday – 1. Choral from Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (BWV 1)

by ada

The time has come again for the Holy Week Series, for the third year in a row. I’m sure you all are as happy as I am to witness my musicology writer career blossoming, haha. I am kind of late with Palm Sunday music though since we’re already deep into Holy Monday, but life has been pretty busy lately and left me no time for this blog.

I had a weird Palm Sunday, so I decided to post a similarly weird music, because I am vindictive.

The only cantata Johann Sebastian Bach ever composed for Palm Sunday is the cantata Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (BWV 182) which I have already posted last year. At the times Bach served in Leipzig, the practice of tempus clausum (closed time), which means that during the weeks of Lent and Advent no festivities and also no music at the liturgy other than Passion plays are allowed, was kept quite strictly. The only exception was the ceremony of Annunciation which, in the year 1725, fell exactly on Palm Sunday. This, and the fact that the text (written by Philipp Nicolai in 1597, btw) also mentions Jesus as the Son of David, makes this cantata perfectly eligible for Palm Sunday in my eyes; even if it has nothing to do with Lent at all. I am a free spirit, if it comes to interpreting music written for liturgical purposes. I can sell you the Christmas Oratorio as a perfect fit for Easter Monday, so watch out.

March 30, 2013

music for Holy Saturday – Jan Dismas Zelenka: Miserere in с, ZWV 57

by ada

For Holy Saturday (or Great Saturday as we call it in Hungary) is a music that was never intended to be part of the Easter liturgy: the first movement of Jan Dismas Zelenka‘s Miserere, my favourite Miserere of all times. Zelenka is the man I’m seriously planning to marry ever since I’ve first heard his music (that tells a lot about how stormy my love life lately is) (well, at least it isn’t an imaginary affair, because he definitely did exist) (some three hundred years ago, ehem). He was also highly valued by Johann Sebastian Bach who even asked him for some professional advice on composing. And that means something, I dare say. So it’s not just some girly crush – Zelenka was really that cool.

P.S.: Last year’s post about the cantatas Boi Beshalom and Kol HaNeshama by Cristiano Giuseppe Lidarti.

March 29, 2013

music for Good Friday – Aria “Es ist vollbracht” from Passio Secundum Johannem, BWV 245 by Johann Sebastian Bach

by ada

Today’s music ist the aria Es ist vollbracht from the St. John’s Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach. It doesn’t need any comments.

P.S.: Find last year’s Good Friday post, Maria (sopra la Carpinese) here.

March 28, 2013

music for Maundy Thursday – Francesco Antonio Rosetti: Jesus in Gethsemane

by ada

Today’s music is the oratorio Jesus in Gethsemane by Francesco Antonio Rosetti, also called Franz Anton Rösler, a Classical era composer of Bohemian origin who was found worth of mentioning beside names as Mozart and Haydn by Charles Burney, the famous English travelling music historian of the late 18th century. Rosetti’s life bears a slight resemblance with that of Mozart: they both were successful (yes, Mozart was successful during his lifetime, everything else you hear is nothing but urban legend), didn’t have the less feeling for money and died young.

I intended to post his other oratorio, Der sterbende Jesus, which was a big hit in Rosetti’s days, but, well, it seems that YouTube is not the place where one goes for historical performance practice research. I should better look for videos with titles like “Adorable 6 Year Old playing Jingle Bells on the recorder while belly dancing in a living room in Oklahoma city” if I need some sense of achievement.

P.S.: You can listen to last year’s Maundy Thursday post, Agonia di Cristo (Le Ultime Sette Parole) from Niccolò Jommelli, here.

P.S.2.: Just a reminder: whether Jommelli’s nor Rosetti’s music fits my own category of high Baroque. Maundy Thursday makes me crave Classical harmonies.

March 27, 2013

music for Holy Wednesday – Michel-Richard Delalande: IIIe Leçon du Mercredi Saint, S. 118

by ada

Last year I posted the world’s most beautiful Tenebrae musicTroisième Leçon de Ténèbres pour deux voix from the harpsichord teacher and court composer of Louis XIV, François Couperin. It’s a piece that’s really difficult to outbid. Fortunately French Baroque church music is overloaded with great compositions (so much that it makes me feel overwhelmed and troubled, actually). Originally I wanted to write about Michel Lambert, the composer of countless airs de cour, who wrote the first Leçons de ténèbres ever, as soon as 1662, but unfortunately YouTube is totally ignorant of the unique importance of his work so I just randomly picked one from another royal harpsichord teacher, Michel-Richard Delalande, who is famous for winning a composers’ competition that’s judge was XIV Louis, only and alone. Let’s speak about the role of totalitarian regimes in the evolution of music, haha.

March 26, 2013

music for Holy Tuesday – Georg Philipp Telemann: Brockes Passion TWV 5:1

by ada

I have to admit, to pick out only one piece a day from all the beauty that was composed for the Holy Week  is very difficult indeed, even if I restrict myself to those approximately 60 years we call “high Baroque”. I was never good at making decisions and it rapidly got worse with the depression – it’s a pain every time, actually. Mostly I just let things pass and I go with what remains, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. So after a day of hesitation I gave in and chose another famous composer. This time it’s Georg Philipp Telemann, a musician whom I really admire. I wrote about him earlier, so I don’t do it now – writing about music makes me nervous right now, and it’s nothing I was really prepared for. Hope this mood will pass till tomorrow, because Holy Wednesday is French Lamentation Day, and I would  regret if I missed it because of some stupid depression issues.

So for today is an excerpt from Telemann’s Brockes Passion, named after the librettist Barthold Heinrich Brockes. It’s the virtuoso recorder part that made me post it.

P.S.: You can find last year’s music for Holy Tuesday, Stabat Mater from Giovanni Felice Sances, here.

March 24, 2013

music for Palm Sunday – Johann Sebastian Bach: Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (Cantata BWV 182)

by ada

During the Holy Week I will do a music post every day just like I did last year; let’s call it tradition. I will stay strictly Baroque, because that’s where I feel comfortable even if I didn’t touch my instruments since the outbreak of my depression, and that means already one and a half years without playing. I sometimes wonder if I ever will get back to my real life of libraries and awesome music. It seems so far away now.

For Palm Sunday let’s have the king of everything Baroque, Johann Sebastian Bach. He wrote this Cantata almost exactly 300 years ago and it is still more beautiful than most of the music others managed to create during those past 300 years.

March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

by ada

St. Andrä church

St. Andrä church

St. Andrä church

plant in Mirabell

Mirabellgarten

mushrooms in Mirabellgarten

daffodils

great tit

strawberries

laundry

Burano butterfly

April 6, 2012

365/97

by ada

I could barely resist the idea of posting Es ist vollbracht from Johannespassion for Good Friday, because, well, quality is quality, and if baroque passion music then Bach über allem, but then I decided to show something entirely different: a traditional Corsican passion upon a tarantella ground from the 17th century, with some jazzy cornetto improvisation. This is an amazing genre, the 17th century Spanish and Italian variations upon a few bars long  harmonic structure. It is sort of the pop and rock of the Baroque. Some variations became really popular and well-known during the past centuries, like the famous folia or the bergamasca, and some harmonic lines never did it, like the ruggiero, but all of them are really cool and I do love this  improvisational and spontaneous art of making music. Arpeggiata performs it just perfectly.

So today’s music is Maria (sopra la Carpinese).

April 5, 2012

365/96

by ada

Today’s music is the first movement of the oratorio Agonia di Cristo (Le Ultime Sette Parole), based on the seven last words of Christ, written by Niccolò Jommelli, one of the most prominent composers of the Italian galant opera. Its style is a bit too late for fitting in the category of baroque passion music, but oh, do I love the obligato bassoon part!

April 4, 2012

365/95

by ada

Well, I guess, today’s music sort of fails to match my own criteria, because no one would dare to call the French composer François Couperin, court organist, composer and harpsichord teacher of the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, a musician of small importance. He wrote a number of virtuoso and charming harpsichord pieces and some other amazing instrumental and vocal music, and his harpsichord tutorial, L’art de toucher le clavecin, published in 1716,  is really worth reading. This very piece of his, Troisième Leçon de Ténèbres pour deux voix, originally written for the Wednesday evening liturgy before Maundy Thursday, was even featured in the movie Tous les matins du monde, with Gérard Depardieu starring in the role of the old Marin Marais. Composing Leçons de ténèbres (Lectures of the Darkness) upon the text of the Lamentations of Jeremiah for the late night services of the three holy days before Easter was a huge trend in the late 17th – mid 18th century French music, and it resulted some really moving compositions. This version of Couperin is one of the most beautiful pieces of baroque vocal music I know (and well, I do know a bit about baroque music, hm).

April 3, 2012

365/94

by ada

For every day of the Holy Week I decided to share a piece of music, written originally for this time of the year, mostly for the church  services. It is very difficult for me to choose from the huge amount of beautiful things that came to existence during the past few hundred years – even if I stick to the period I’m most familiar with, the late 17th and early 18th centuries, it means still too much of goodness to leave out. So I’ll try to avoid the very famous hits, like the Bach-Passions, and present some works of smaller composers or pieces less known.

Today’s music is Stabat Mater from Giovanni Felice Sances, an Italian baroque composer of the 17th century, who was among the first composers to write his melodies upon the so-called lament bass, an (often chromatically) descending tetrachord. In the presentation of Arpeggiata and Philippe Jaroussky, who, in my opinion, is one of the most talented early music performers nowadays.

April 1, 2012

365/92

by ada

Happy Palm Sunday or, as we call it in Hungary, Flower Sunday.

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