Posts tagged ‘Passover’

April 4, 2015

music for Holy Saturday – “Jordanis conversus est retrorsum” from Jean-Joseph de Mondonville’s great motet “In exitu Israel”

by ada

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.

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March 25, 2013

music for Holy Monday/Seder Evening – “He smote all the first-born of Egypt” from Georg Friedrich Händel’s Oratorio “Israel in Egypt” HWV 54

by ada

I seem to stick to Big Names this year, for today’s music is written by nobody else than Georg Friedrich Händel, who is considered to be the most important person if it comes to English Baroque music – even if he was actually a German. Well, that’s how things worked in the 18th century – the most important person in the history of French Baroque music; the man who called the famous French style that ruled the music scene of the 18th century, to life; the man who got the idea of synchronizing the bow movements of the violins in the orchestra first; the man who was smart enough to secure the publishing rights in whole France for himself alone, the man who is known as Jean-Baptiste Lully was, in fact, an Italian. So, if it comes to style, nationality plays never that big role we like to imagine.

Händel spent most of his musically active years in England. His music is as English, as it can be – biblical stories set in pompous orchestral style with heavy choir settings and lots of brass and drums. This oratorio, Israel in Egypt, tells the Passover story – and this aria (well, it’s actually no aria, it’s a choir movement) is about the last of the ten plagues. Enjoy the nice Quintfallsequenz starting at 1:35 :o)

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!

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