Posts tagged ‘liturgy’

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.

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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 20, 2014

music for Easter Sunday – Michel Corrette: Laudate Dominum de coelis

by ada

For Easter Sunday let’s have something fun: the motet Laudate Dominum de coelis  by Michel Corrette, the Telemann of France. He, just like Telemann, also played every existing instrument you can think of, including hurdy-gurdy. Being as altruistic as he was, he wanted to share his knowledge with everyone so he just kept on writing practical treatises (I’ve read only the one for the flute, but there are so many more). As for the music he composed, most of it can be described with the sole word: cute. All those glittery harpsichord pieces and delightful Noëls, really, pure cuteness. If we would all listen to more Baroque hurdy-gurdy music like this, we could make the world a funnier better place to live in.

The second movement might sound quaintly familiar which – would I not be so exhausted* – would bring me to the fascinating topic of copyright laws in the 18th century Europe and down the rabbit hole of the conflict of French and Italian music tastes during the 17th century, beginning with Giovanni Battista Lolli***, the most French (Frenchest?! Seriously, my English just keeps on getting worse with every word I type) composer of all times and trendsetter for generations of musicians who were – unlike him – indeed, French. He, btw, was also the one who monopolised the 17th century French music market through securing for himself the right to compose and produce operas, thereby financially ruining lots of his fellow colleagues. A smart businessman, he was.

* I spent the night with watching old series of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I went to bed at 4 am. Now I feel like I slayed vampires all night. Or, more precisely, like I were a slain vampire myself**

** I’m totally aware of the fact that this is not the way one is supposed to spend the night of the Resurrection. But I have my excuses, like 1) my family doesn’t celebrate Easter (we still will organize an Easter egg hunting for M&M though, because well, they are children and children deserve to have fun) 2) I’ve had my head and soul full of ICU lately and just crave some meaningless recreation time before starting in a new hospital on Tuesday 3) I’m reliving my teens.

*** you may have heard of him as Jean-Baptiste Lully, the man who lived for and died of French music (literally)

PS.: Surrexit Christus hodie by Esterházy Pál for 2012 and a proper Easter Sunday cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach for 2013: Der Himmel lacht, die Erde jubilieret.

PS 2.: Happy Easter and Happy Passover!

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 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.

December 25, 2013

music for Christmas Day – Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Noëls pour les instruments, H. 351 & 354

by ada

French Christmas songs, in sweet, 17th century Théâtre-Français style.

December 25, 2013

music for Christmas Eve – Jakub Jan Ryba: Česká mše vánoční – Hej, mistře!

by ada

The first movement of the traditional (and very famous) Czech pastoral mass of Jakub Šimon Jan Ryba. With cute animations; because we are talking Baby Jesus here. In a proper Central European manner.

December 1, 2013

music for the 1st Sunday of Advent – Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland”, BWV 62

by ada

The great success (ha! ha! two whole page views per day!) of the Holy Week Series inspired me to expand my musicology writer career to another part of the liturgical year: Advent and Christmas. You’re welcome.

Before the depression I had a thing for no-name German composers that didn’t really make it into the musical canon, like Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer or Cajetan Anton Adlgasser. Well, it’s over.* I’m all “all we need is Bach” nowadays. So for now, Johann Sebastian Bach it is, the cantata he’s composed for the first day of Advent in 1724; on the German translation of the ancient Ambrosian hymn Veni Redemptor Gentium.

* My interest in early music also seems to vanish very quickly. I hope, I will recover someday. Having spent 8 years of my life with something I can’t even enjoy anymore would be sort of tragic.

April 1, 2013

music for Easter Monday – Aria “Süß und rein muß der Christen Passah seyn” from the Easter Cantata “Weg mit Sodoms gift’gen Früchten”, TWV1:1534 by Georg Philipp Telemann

by ada

Telemann wrote a whole cycle of cantatas for the liturgical year and published them in a two-bands collection, under the title Der Harmonische Gottesdienst. I chose this aria from the cantata written for Easter Sunday in 1725 for my last post of the Easter series, because I think Telemann was a genius and I like how this short piece of music shows the purity of the new life after the feast of the Resurrection.

P.S.: I don’t really like the singer’s voice, but well, nothing is perfect on Earth. I’ve already learnt to accept the need of making compromises in life.

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.

April 7, 2012

365/98

by ada

This year Seder evening fell on Good Friday, so for today I decided to look for some music that fits for both Passover and Easter purposes while being baroque. This means a very small circle of pieces to choose from. Before the liturgical reform of Salomon Sulzer in the 19th century, the amount of Jewish sacral compositions is insignificant. The music of Salomone Rossi, the one and only 17th century composer of Jewish origin, who wrote music for the liturgy, is more renaissance than baroque. The next composer who has anything to do with synagogal music, is Avraham Cáceres from the late 18th century, but I couldn’t find any single liturgical piece of his on YouTube. And than there are some non-Jewish people, like Carlo Grossi or Louis Saladin,  who were hired by synagogues to write music for prayers (like Franz Schubert by Salomon Sulzer, a hundred years later) but this didn’t happen too often.

Salomone Rossi l’Ebreo lived in the early 17th century, and wrote some really nice instrumental trio sonatas and some vocal music in the style of prima prattica. His set of motets, Shirim l’asher Shlomo, the Songs of Solomon contains mainly psalms and a few prayers. Although I cherish his cheerful and cute trio sonatas, typical for their genre and for the style of the transition period between renaissance and baroque in Italy, his motets and church music are just too much of stile antiqua for me. I’m rather uncomfortable with sheer renaissance polyphony. So I decided to rule him out and chose the cantatas Boi Beshalom and Kol HaNeshama, written by Cristiano Giuseppe Lidarti, an Austro-Italian baroque composer of non-Jewish origin, instead. He composed these pieces for the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam around 1770. Despite of the late date, the character of the pieces is almost entirely baroque. It seems, Lidarti was rather old-fashioned in his compositional manners, which is a big luck for me :o)

While it’s not exactly Passover music and singing Alleluia at 10am on Easter Saturday is also a bit early for the Catholic liturgy, it’s the best musical compromise I’m able to come up with. Happy Passover and happy Easter!

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).

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