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markfromireland

Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Rejoice in the Lord alway ‘The bell anthem’

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May 24, 2013

Henry Purcell Purcell's setting of Philippians 4: 4-7 (Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice …) is one of the most popular of his anthems. It acquired it's title of 'The bell anthem' very early on and dates from sometime between 1682 and 1685. I love its signature pealing of bells which is everywhere in its stunning opening Prelude. You can hear the bells pealing both in the bass part and in the intertwined upper parts where Purcell juxtaposes their joy to bittersweet effect with some typically Purcellian harmonies. This Prelude also has some wonderful writing for strings which is given further depth by the descending scales of the theorbos.

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The Music of Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) Part II: Cecilia Bartoli – Mission – Les musiques d’Agostino Steffani à Versailles – YouTube

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May 23, 2013
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series The Music of Agostino Steffani

I said yesterday of  Agostino Steffani's music that it was easy to see 'why his contemporaries held his music in such esteem' – his religious music is very beautiful and so is his opera music. Much of his music has been pioneered for modern audiences by Cecilia Bartoli and we're fortunate that vdzwyer  has published the Arte video production of her singing solo arias and four duets from his operas. The scene is set at Versailles and the singing is as glorious as the surroundings. Bartoli put a lot of effort into researching Steffani's music – and it shows in her superb technique and profound feeling for the texts she's singing, much of what she sings has never been recorded before. The accompaniment by I Barocchisti conducted by Diego Fasolis is superb and as for the duets in which she is joined by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, well what can I say other than that 'my cup runneth over'? It's a wonderful introduction to this neglected master and his masterpieces and indeed to the entire genre of baroque opera. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

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The Music of Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) Part I: Stabat Mater – YouTube

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May 22, 2013
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series The Music of Agostino Steffani

Agostino Steffani (1654-1728)Clergyman, diplomat, musician, composer, Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) had an extraordinary life. His music is largely forgotten today but during his life it was very well thought by the public and by his fellow composers including his friend Handel.  He was born in 1654 at Castelfranco in the Province of Treviso and started his musical life as a choirboy in St Mark's Basilica , Venice, when he was 12 the beauty of his voice attracted the attention of Count Tattenbach who brought him to Munich to sing and receive musical education at the Court of  Prince Ferdinand Maria the Elector of Bavaria including one year of tuition in Rome at the Elector's expense , his skill, intelligence, and diligence meant that he soon was being granted appointments starting with the position of court musician, rising to chamber musician, and then director of the court's music and court organist. He remained at the Electoral court for  twenty-one years. He left Munich in 1688 for a post at the Court of the Elector of Hannover where he befriended and showed great kindness to Handel and was befriended by Leibniz . Ten years later in 1698 he was invited to take up residence at at the court of Johann Wilhelm II the  Elector Palatine, at Düsseldorf. His diplomatic career dates from at least 1680 when he was ordained as priest and appointed as protonotarius apostolicus by Pope Innocent XI for whom he successfully undertook several diplomatic missions who made him a Bishop and "Vicario Apostolico delle Missioni Settentrionali," a post that involved considerable diplomatic work at various North German courts. There was a downside to this promotion which was that as a senior diplomat and personal episcopal representative of the Pope it would have been a severe breach of etiquette for Steffani to publish operas under his own name a restriction that he got around by publishing them under the name of his secretary Gregorio Piva. In 1695 he published a pamphlet, 'Sui Principii della Musica' discussing how music is grounded on nature and science.

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Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625): If ye be risen again with Christ

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May 21, 2013

Orlando Gibbons'  'If ye be risen again with Christ' is a verse anthem in other words it's an anthem that consists of solos or duets for one or more voices, usually from the start of the work as here, interspersed with short choral passages that augment the solos. I've always enjoyed listening to this particular anthem and when the soloists are  two trebles as talented  as the boys singing here it is a soaringly beautiful piece of music. Enjoy :-).

marfkromireland

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Drakensberg Boys’ Choir (April 2013): Some Nights ~ Shosholoza — YouTube

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May 20, 2013

Why yes I did suddenly reorganise the posting calendar when I saw that a new Drakensberg Boys' Choir video had made its way on to YouTube.  They're one of my three all-time favourite choirs so anything new from them is quite an event as far as I'm concerned. Video and lyrics are both below the fold. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :-)

markfromireland

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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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