Posts tagged ‘Passion (music)’

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).

 

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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 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

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 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.

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!

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