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Fartein Valen (1887–1952): Psalm 121

2
June 4, 2015
Trolltunga in Hardaland, West Norway. Valen believed that Nature's beauty and the splendour of the mountains are a reflection of God.

Trolltunga in Hardaland, West Norway. Valen believed that Nature's beauty and the splendour of the mountains are a reflection of God.

The son of a missionary Valen was born in  Stavanger in 1887, he received his first musical education in between 1907 and 1909 in Kristiania (Oslo) under Elling and then at the Berlin Conservatory (1909–1911) under Bruch.  He returned to Norway in 1916 settling in Valevåg in his native Hardaland. He moved to Oslo in 1924 working part-time in the university library and doing some teaching. Despite acquiring a reputuation as a superb teacher and being awarded an annual grant for life by Norway's National Assembly he felt uncomfortable in the city and returned to the country. I'm mostly interested in his choral music but his large-scale instrumental music from this period including four symphonies a violin concerto and a piano concerto are well worth seeking out by those with an interest in modern music.

His setting of Psalm 121 which you can hear below reflects his increasingly successful attempts to explore tonal harmony and to express  his belief that nature's marvels and beauty reflect God's power that "holds its protecting hand over the doubting soul of the pilgrim". Enjoy :-).

mfi

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

Wednesday Earwig: Circle of Life/Baba Yethu – Drakensberg Boys Choir

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June 3, 2015

It's been a while since we've had an earwig from the Drakies. Enjoy :-).
mfi Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Constitues eos principes

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June 2, 2015

Constitues eos principes (You will make them princes) is one of three pieces of music that Byrd composed specifically for the feast of saints Peter and Paul, he published it in the 1607 Gradualia. It's a six-part setting, confident and modern and full of energy in which the anguish we associate with the Cantiones is conspicuous by its absence. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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

Francisco de Peñalosa (±1470-1528): Ave verum corpus

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June 1, 2015

Francisco de Peñalosa is one those composers associated with the rise of Spain, with Ferdinand and Isabella and their royal chapels, and with the great cathedral choirs such as those of Toledo and Seville. Whenever I think of this period in Iberian history my thoughts turn to Juan de Anchieta, Pedro de Escobar, Juan del Encina and Francisco de Peñalosa. He was born some time around 1470 near Madrid and served in Ferdinand V of Aragon's chapel. He rose to be appointed maestro de capilla to Ferdinand's grandson in 1511 and was granted a benefice of Seville Cathedral. He's known to have been in Seville in 1516 after Ferdinand’s death, and to have lived in Rome from 1517 until 1525 when he returned to Seville where he remained until his death. His contemporaries greatly admired his music with Cristóbal de Villalón comparing him to Josquin which when one considers that some motets now known to be by him were at one time believed to be by Josquin is less unreasonable than it sounds. Certainly his music was influenced by Josquin and by the Flemish composers who worked for the Spanish monarchy. His Eucharistic motet Ave verum corpus is somewhat old-fashioned in it's style being entirely composed in plain chordal blocks, old fashioned perhaps but nevertheless beautiful. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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

Josquin Des Prez (±1450 1521): Missa Pange Lingua

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May 31, 2015

Josquin Signature 180x143 Josquin's Mass setting Missa Pange Lingua is based upon the melody of Pange Lingua, Aquinas's adaptation of Venantius Fortunatus' hymn for Corpus Christi. It's a remarkable piece of music, composed when Josquin was at the height of his power. It's both a cantus firmus Mass and a paraphrase setting, cantus firmus because Josquin uses the Pange Lingua chant as the basis for each movement and paraphrase because he uses Pange Lingua's melody in each of the Mass' sections.

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

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