Monthly Archives: August 2011

New Series “Sunday Playlist” Starts Today

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August 7, 2011

I'm pleased to announce the start of the Sunday Playlist series of postings. Every Sunday you'll find a playlist of videos that I or others think you'll enjoy. Sometimes they'll be music – not always choral music either, sometimes they'll be documentaries, or cover versions, or sound tracks, or fan videos …  What the playlists in the "Sunday Playlist" will have in common is that they'll feature videos made by and for people who love music in all its forms as much as you and I do. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

‪Agnus Dei: J.M. van Bronkhorst‬

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August 6, 2011

screenshot first performance van bankhorst agnus dei 350x175

This modern Agnus Dei was composed by Jean-Marie van Bronkhorst Choir Director of Cascade High School in Turner, Oregon, it's performed here by the Cascade Concert Choir and Oregon State Chamber Orchestra conducted by Marlan Carlson at St. Mary's cathedral in Mount Angel, Oregon. It's a very polished performance of a wonderful piece of music that shows what young singers can do:

I would've written this exactly the same if it were written for the Cambridge Singers or the Robert Shaw Chorale. My students love the piece, and when that intrinsic quality is part of the learning process, the sky is the limit. But it's true, I had their voices in mind, especially the girl who sings a discant like an angel in the end. I literally had her voice in my head when writing it.

Jean-Marie van Bronkhorst*

The video, the text of Agnus Dei and a translation of Agnus Dei into English are all below the fold. Whenever experts tell me that high school students can't sing to professional standard I direct them to thoroughly professional performances such as this. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

‪Tourdion‬: Petits Chanteurs de Sainte Croix de Neuilly

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August 5, 2011

Tourdion was a medieval dance, it fell out of favour but survived as a drinking song popularised by Pierre Attaignant who published it shortly before his death in 1552. (It remains popular to this day I've heard  a rock version of at a concert in Béziers sung  by the group "Sangria Gratuite"). This video is of Tourdion being sung by the Petits Chanteurs de Sainte-Croix de Neuilly  singing "Tourdion". Lyrics below the video. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Escolania de Montserrat : J.S. Bach Duet Cantata BWV 4

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August 5, 2011

"Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt" is my favourite verse in one of my favourite cantatas, no matter how often I listen to it it tends to stay with me for hours after I've finished listening to it.

David Pla & Llorenc Niclos - Duet -Cantata  BWV4

BWV4 is one of Bach's earliest cantatas. He wrote it for Easter of either 1707 or 1708 taking the words of Martin Luther's seven verse Easter song "Christ lag in Todesbanden" ("Christ lay in the bonds of death") as his text. In a subsequent posting I'll be writing about the entire cantata but for this one I want to concentrate on two performances of the duet "Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt" ("Death could capture no one") by David Pla (Soprano) and Llorenç Niclòs (Contralto) of the Escolania de Montserrat.

Bach's setting of Luther's second verse is a darkly atmospheric duet between a soprano and an alto (or contralto) based upon a variant of the chorale's "Hallelujah". Bach finds the musical matches to the imagery of Luther's text by using ascending and descending scales but the low notes predominate. Moreover he chops the stanza in half so that soprano starts the first half and the contralto the second, he takes this further so that the two voices not only stay close to another but that the soprano sometimes is singing below the alto, the voices cross in other words. I've heard it said that his intent was for the voices to be so close that it isn't possible to tell one voice from the other, but I'm not so sure of that, I think he wanted them to follow and cross but for there to be enough differentiation for the listener to follow two distinct lines.

Pla and Niclòs manage this feat admirably, their voices echo each other and then come together in a way I find deeply moving. I like their pace as well it's slow enough to convey a feeling of immensity and of awe. I've listened to these two recordings again and again and am moved each time by their beauty. Lyrics and English translation are below the playlist. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Marc Henric: Agnus Dei : Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Marc

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August 4, 2011

chazal001The young French composer Marc Henric is the son of Jean Henric the President of the Choral Federation "Pueri Cantorès". With so much choral music in his background it's hardly surprising that he should turn his hand to choral composition. This is his setting of "Agnus Dei" — it's a thing of beauty. Remarkable to think that Henric is only in his twenties. For this posting I've put two recordings of his "Agnus Dei" into a playlist which you'll find below the fold.

The first is the most recent and is from the Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Marc's concert at Seoul Arts Center on May 13th, 2011. The soloist for this performance was David Chazal. Chazal's solos in this demanding piece of music are really very good, he has a nice intonation with good diction and good control. Henric's score requires the soloist to cover quite a range and Chazal manages to do this without sounding excessively forced. It's a good performance and one that he, Nicolas Porte, and the choir can all be proud of. At the end of the video there's vigorous applause from the audience who clearly knew they'd just heard some very good singing.

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Forthcoming Posts

  • Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625): ‘Drop, drop, slow tears’
  • 6th Sunday of Lent 2014: Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross Op 51

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