Vivaldi Vespro per la Sacra Vergine Les Agremens, L G Alarcon

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August 21, 2014

Because good music is like good chocolate sometimes one piece isn't enough. That's why. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Surge, amica mea, speciosa mea

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August 20, 2014

Palestrina's set of motets based upon the song of songs was wildly popular not least because their emotional range was such that depending on how the group singing a particulat motet chose to sing it whether to emphasise the intimate, and sensual side of the motets or as you can hear below to stress their public, sacred and motet-like nature. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676): Magnificat A Sei Voci

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August 19, 2014

Cavalli was born in Crema in February 1602 the son of Giovanni Battista Caletti Bruni, who at that time was maestro di cappella in Crema's Cathedral. He had a particularly beautiful voice, so much so that Federigo Cavalli, the chief magistrate of the city and one of Venice's foremost aristocrats took the then fourteen-year old boy with him to Venice promising that not only would he be fed and paid but that Monteverdi himself would be his music teacher (Cavalli changed his name from Bruni to Cavalli in gratitude). His musical career is best described as one of steady progression rather than a meteoric rise, his fame spread and his compositional technique matured, and Cavalli rose steadily through the ranks of the musical profession until he was so well-thought-of that when Monteverdi died it was Cavalli who was hailed as his successor as the most important musical force in The Serene Republic.

He composed this six-part setting of the Magnificat in 1650 to complete the posthumous edition of the Messa a Quattro voci e Salmi published in memory of his mentor, maestro, and friend Claudio Monteverdi.

It's a very good example of what for lack of a better term I'll call post-Monteverdi Venetian. Its structure is highly sectionalised and it's marked by a wonderfully light 'concertato misto' approach. Indeed 'misto' (mixed) describes it precisely, and Cavalli handling of this variation is deft and masterful, there are  solos, duets, trios, embellishments to the vocal line, and some verse taut and tersely written tutti that provide both punctuation and relief.

Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Gonzalo Martinez de Bizcargui (fl 1490-1538): Salve Regina

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August 18, 2014

Gonzalo Martinez de Bizcargui was born at Azkoitia in the province of Gipuzkoa, in northern Spain's Basque Country, only one of his works - the setting of the Salve that you can hear here is known to have survived. In his time his musical theories were quite influential and he rose from a singer in Burgos Cathedral's capilla to be Bishop's chaplain and subsequently chaplain to the Chapel of the Visitation. He published two treatises:

1. Arte de canto llano y contrapunto e canto de órgano.
2. Intonationes nuevamente corrigidas porel mesmo Gonzalo Martínez de Bizcargui, según uso de los modernos.

His Salve Regina for four voices is preserved in Burgos. It's a transitional piece with its roots in late Spanish late medieval music but looking forward to the dawning renaissance. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Bonus Sunday Earwig: Beatles Medley – Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal – Live, August 16th 2014.

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August 17, 2014

The Beatles as you've never heard them. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Sunday Concert: "Viva Vivaldi!" – Cecilia Bartoli & "Il Giardino Armonico – YouTube

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August 17, 2014

cecilia bartoli 700x316 captioned

Viva Vivaldi! with Cecilia Bartoli

Cecilia Bartoli's all-Vivaldi sell-out concert performances with the Italian period instrument ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, at Paris's Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, brought together the talents of today's most celebrated mezzo-soprano and an outstandingly creative group of musicians. Included are arias from Vivaldi's operas and pasticcios L'Olimpiade, Tito Manlio, Ottone in Villa, Gloria, Juditha Triumphans, Farnace, Bajazet and La Fida Ninfa. The repertoire displays Bartoli's breathtaking virtuosity in arias demanding a phenomenal range of vocal expression.
Cecilia Bartoli (born June 4, 1966 in Rome) is an Italian mezzo-soprano opera singer and recitalist. She is best known for her interpretation of the music of Mozart and Rossini, as well as for her performances of lesser-known Baroque and classical music. She is known for having the versatility to play both soprano and mezzo roles, and is sometimes considered a soprano with a low tessitura. Bartoli's coloratura skill has earned her the title the Queen of Agility." –Wikipedia

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Kearsney College Choir: World Choir Games 2014, Riga

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August 16, 2014

Kearnsey College Choir are another wonderful South African Choir whose fortunes I follow with keen interest, I was delighted when they won gold at this year's World Choir Games in Riga. Delighted but not surprised – they're very good at what they do. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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William Mundy (±1529-1591): Vox Patris caelestis

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August 15, 2014

Mundy composed Vox Patris caelestis (The voice of the heavenly Father) during Queen Mary's reign (1553–1558) we can date it to these five years first because Mundy was too young to have written it during Henry VIII's reign, secondly its text which is a Marian paean based upon the Song of Songs would have been unacceptable both to Edward VI and Elizabeth I as protestant monarchs as would the musical style. It probably wouldn't have been all that acceptable to Mary's fellow Catholic monarchs either, it's musical style is very English and Mundy who clearly liked to compose on a gigantic scale is far more concerned with letting his melodies spread their wings than with textual clarity. His structure is aimed at achieving this melodic breadth. You can hear this in the way the solos build and increase in intensity Mundy wanted it to be spectacular and so it is he took most spectacular voice combination available to him two trebles, two means and two basses and heightens the musical firework again and again until at last we come to conclusive 'Veni, veni, veni: caelesti gloria coronaberis. Amen'. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Beatus vir RV795

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August 14, 2014

vivaldi sketch captioned 150x180You'll sometimes read people making a fuss about the fact that the Ryom Verzeichnis Number for this the third and last of Vivaldi's surviving settings of Psalm 111 (112 in modern translations) is an inversion of RV597 another setting of the Psalm and one to which it is closely related. In fact the inversion is entirely happenstance and the various numerological paroxysms into which these enthusiasts throw themselves are really rather ridiculous. It's one of a group of Psalms that Vivaldi composed for performance at the Pietà on Easter 1739 and is based upon a now lost setting of the Psalm. It's written in a galant style and calls for the alto to sing 'pseudo bass' you can hear this particularly clearly in the terzet 'In memoria aeterna' where the second contralto double the instrumental bass at precisely one octave above. Between that terzet and the writing of the 'Peccator videbit'.  It's a lovely piece of music that features some very innovative part-writing and a fascinating glimpse of an aging Vivaldi's determination to keep his musical style fresh and up-to-date. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Surge, propera, amica mea

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August 13, 2014

While I was researching this posting I came across this performance of Surge, propera, amica mea (Rise up, make haste, my love,) given by the Spanish choir Coro Musicalia at a concert given on May 20th 2012 at the Iglesia de El Salvador, Valladolid. I was impressed and enjoyed it greatly, I hope that you will too.

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Lullaby ‘My sweet little baby’

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August 12, 2014

When he published Psalms, Sonets, and songs of Sadnes and Pietie in 1588 Byrd wrote that he hoped it would 'perswade everyone to learne how to sing' all of the songs in the 1588 book are very distinctive in their concentration on a beautiful sound, on harnessing the expressive power of the human voice. They're all pieces that repay frequent listening or as Byrd put it "a song that is well and artificially made cannot be well perceived nor understood at the first hearing, but the oftener you shall heare it, the better cause of liking you will discover" I've long since lost count of how many times I've listened to this performance of the Winter Lullaby, an early work that shows Byrd's consummate mastery of that most difficult art, writing a good tune. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Herbert Howells (1892–1983): Regina caeli

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August 11, 2014

This is the third four 'Anthems of the Blessed Virgin Mary' that Howells composed for the choir of Westminster Cathedral in 1916. For  some strange reason they were never published during his lifetime and only came to light in 1988 when the manusicript copy was rediscovered. I've not yet managed to hear it sung in Westminster but it's clearly written for that Cathedral's acoustic. It's set for double choir and is overflowing with joy throughout from the opening fanfare to the cliimactic 'resurrexit sicut dixit' to the gentle ending. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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