Blog Archives

markfromireland

Percy Grainger (1882 – 1961): Danny Deever

0
November 17, 2014

Percy Grainger 1903Danny Deever is one of Kipling's Barrack-Room Ballads and was published in 1892 in the First Series. Kipling's work was wildly popular at the time and Grainger whose love of poetry had been encouraged and fostered by his mother was a Kipling enthusiast. Between 1903 and 1904 Grainger was in the grip of inspiration and set several texts to music including Kipling's rather stark and grim depiction of a soldier being executed by hanging for murdering one of his comrades by shooting him as he lay sleeping.

Grainger's setting, which like all his settings of Kipling's poems he dedicated to his mother, follows the structure of Kipling's poem precisely. It's a set of dialogues between a group of young soldiers ("Files-on-Parade") and their sergeant as they watch the execution. Grim thought the text and the occasion it depicts was Grainger turns it into an almost jaunty piece of music. He loved ballads, especially ballads such as this which make heavy use of repetition because they gave him the opportunity of using one of his favourite techniques of varying the instrumental accompaniment to increase the intensity as the narrative proceeds. For Danny Deever the form he chose was that of a march a sort of "Marche Macabre" which he adorned with dissonant chromatic harmonies and cross accents to better highlight the darkness and irony of the occasion. When I first heard it I couldn't help but wonder how Grainger's mother felt at having such a piece of music dedicated to her but years later having read a biography of Grainger I decided she probably enjoyed it, she was from what I can make out well and truly weird. Don't let that put you off this is a fine piece of music that repays the time spent listening.

mfi

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

Feature: Josquin Des Prez (±1450 – 1521): Missa Ave Maris Stella

0
November 16, 2014

Josquin's Missa Ave maris stella is a relatively early that must have been composed sometime between 1495 and 1505 when it appeared as the opening work in the second book of Josquin's Masses published by Ottaviano Petrucci the Venetian master printer and publisher. It's a cantus firmus work in other words Josquin used the melody of another piece of  music as the musical foundation for this setting of the Mass. As the name Missa Ave maris stella might lead you to expect the cantus firmus Josquin used was the Dorian mode Marian hymn of that name and which I include as the starting track in the recording below.

This hymn which was appointed to be sung at First Vespers on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary was very popular and very greatly loved. Even as Gregorian chant there are six settings of it that I know of and there could well have been more there's also a very well-known setting by Dufay. Not being one to  pass up an opportunity Josquin's setting makes heavy use of it as a cantus firmus. You can hear it throughout the Mass both as a structural voice subject to embellishment or as the foundation for some highly developed imitation. It's a really stunning setting in which Josquin somehow manages to combine some quite severe contrapuntal writing with intensely declamatory treatment of the text and numinous euphony. It's a compositional tour de force in which Josquin clearly set out to show what he could do and I find it very difficult to pick out one highlight over another so I'll confine myself to mentioning just a few points.

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

Josquin Des Prez (±1450-1521): O virgo virginium

0
November 15, 2014

I've written about the great 'O' antiphons frequently, or to be more precise I've written about seven of them. These are the seven antiphons that are sung in the week before Christmas starting with 'O Sapientia' and concluding ón December 23rd with 'O Emmanuel'  most people think that these seven antiphons – the 'Great Antiphons' as they are often referred to are the only antiphons for this time, but  this is wrong in fact there are other antiphons which are proper to this week as the list below which I take from Guéranger shows:

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

Franz Schubert: "Die Forelle" – boy soprano David Cizner 9 years old

0
November 14, 2014

Cizner Forelle ThumbI've been following David Cizner's career for a while. He's a very talented singer in this performance recorded when he was all of nine years old he sings "Die Forelle". He takes it a bit faster than I'd normally like but in this case I don't think it detracts – very precise and clear diction too. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Quam pulchri sunt gressus tui

0
November 13, 2014

Quam pulchri sunt gressus tui is the twenty fifty in the series of motets based upon the Song of Songs first published by Palestrina in 1584. The eroticism of the text – the Song of Songs is after all love poetry of a desert people,  no doubt helped account for its popularity with the public. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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

Archives

Special Pages