Howard Harold Hanson (1896 – 1981): Symphony No.1 in E-minor, Op.22 “Nordic”

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October 19, 2014

Howard Hanson's music was very popular with American audiences perhaps because he wrote in such an unabashedly romantic style he was quite strongly influence by Sibelius but he himself also said that both Palestrina and Bach were also amongst his musical heroes whom he strove to emulate. His symphonies are wonderful the first of these the "Nordic" Symphony  dates from his time in Rome studying under Ottorino Respighi, whose  influence on Hanson's music can be heard here.  The fact that it's an early work shouldn't put you off it's well worth your while and serves as a good introduction to Hanson's symphonies. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Annual Holiday 2014

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October 5, 2014

After more than thirteen hundred posts it's time for a short break so I am taking a two weeks holiday from writing here. The next posting on Saturday Chorale will be published on Sunday October 19th 2014.

I look forward to seeing you then.

mfi

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Drakensberg Boys Choir: Amavolovolo (Joint Performance) – 27 August 2014

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October 4, 2014

The boys of the Drakensberg Boys Choir, together with the Kärntner Landesjugendchor and the proTON Vokalensemble performing Amavolovolo live in concert on Wednesday 27 August 2014. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Christopher Hogwood (10 September 1941 – 24 September 2014)

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October 3, 2014

With the death of Christopher Hogwood, conductor, musicologist, keyboard player and founder of the Academy of Ancient Music, aged 73 one of this era's musical giants has passed away. It's almost impossible to overstate how influential he was as a champion and exponent of early-music. He was the presiding genius of the Academy of Ancient Music which he founded in 1973 and oversaw its rise as of the premier orchestras of our age. He fulfilled his dream of creating a professional and dedicated group of musicians who would be at the forefront of the period-instrument movement. While most people thought of him as a conductor and while it's very easy to find recordings of him conducting the AAM his role as a lecturer and researcher is less well known. Fortunately for us he recorded several series of lectures for Gresham COllege and these are available both on YouTube and from Gresham College free of charge. My own very small tribute to him is to direct you these lectures and to ask that you pray for his soul.

mfi

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): In turbato mare irato RV627

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October 2, 2014

This is one of four pieces of Vivaldi's sacred music sent to the court at Dresden it's a very old fashioned piece that uses the old baroque operatic metaphor of ships buffeted by stormy seas, looking for shelter in this case with the aid of the 'Star of The Sea' – the  stella maris, one the Virgin Mary's titles of honour.  It's a surprisingly difficult piece to perform well – it needs a soprano soloist with presence and control, but it also needs the various parts of accompaniment to come through clearly without swamping either each other or the soloist. Happily for us in the performance you'll find below Dominique Labelle and the Voices of Music manage to achieve precisely this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did – their notes are well worth reading too.

mfi

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Pulchra es amica mea

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October 1, 2014

Pulchra es amica mea (Thou art beautiful, O my love) is the twenty-second in the series  of twenty-nine motets based upon Song of Songs published by Palestrina to meet the demand for music to be sung at the meetings of the many religious groups, orders, and sodalities springing upduring the religious revival then taking place in Italy . Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Walter Lambe (±1450 – ±1500): Nesciens Mater

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September 30, 2014

The clearest possible indication of how important Lambe was considerered to be by his contemporaries lies in the fact that so many of his compositions were collected in the Eton Choirbook. His five part (SATTB) setting of the Marian antiphon Nesciens Mater uses the chant as its cantus firmus but surrounds it with what Harry Christophers describes as 'an incandescent tracery of voices, echoing if you like the Perpendicular architecture of Henry VI’s Eton'.  It's a lovely piece of work that gives me pleasure every time I hear it. It's some of the most beautiful polyphony I know of, I particularly admire the cadences at the end. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa (±1561–1613): Ave dulcissima Maria

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September 29, 2014

In 1603 Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa published two collections of motets under the title of 'Sacrae Cantiones'. The first volume or Sacrarum cantionum quinque vocibus Liber primus to give it its full title consists of 19 motets for 5 voices of which Ave dulcissima Maria is the ninth. It's a very balanced and beautiful piece of music with some wonderful chromatic harmonies. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Sunday Concert: Mozart Symphony No 36, Brahms Symphony No 2 – Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Carlos Kleiber

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September 28, 2014

Carlos Kleiber conducting the the Vienna Philharmonic in a concert dating (I believe) to  October 7th 1991 October 6th 1991. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847): Lieder Ohne Worte I, Op. 19 – 1. № In E

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September 27, 2014

Mendelssohn's flowing and lyrical 'Lieder Ohne Worte'  (Songs without words) are a neglected delight that I often turn to for musical relaxation. I'll be posting a few more of them over the next few weeks but here's the first one to get us started. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672): Surrexit pastor bonus, SWV469

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September 26, 2014

When Schütz was appointed Kapellmeister at the court in Dresden in 1617 he set to work composing music to be performed at all the civic and religious occasions of the court. One of the pieces he composed was this SATB Easter motet 'Surrexit pastor bonus' (The Good Shepherd is risen) the text of which is a responsory for the second day of Easter. It's a cheerful and optimistic piece that bubbles over with joy. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Laudate pueri RV602

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September 25, 2014

This is Vivaldi composing music on a grand scale for performance during Vespers at the Pietà. Each verse is a separate movement which is linked to the others by the device of treating a verse – in this case the second one, as a refrain. In some ways I find it a strange work full of contrasts. There's the bright and almost naive second verse which sets overall tone for the piece. But against that we have the deep melancholy of 'Excelsus super omnes' which is the musical and emotional heart of the work and which uses the form of a siciliana to express desperation instead of the rustic vigour one might expect from a siciliana. The fourth and fifth verses are strophed, that is Vivaldi paraphrases but without repeating his setting of the fourth verse in the fifth. These are followed by the dramatic sixth movement 'Suscitans a terra …' in which the two soprano soloists vie with each other to describe the scene. The final part of the Psalm itself 'Ut collocet eum …' is a simple rustic dance of the type Vivaldi made much use of in the first decade of the eighteenth century. Once the Psalm ends we have the doxology, at the time this was composed it was traditional to introduce a somewhat showy solo Vivaldi obeys the tradition but evidently determined to go one step better makes the solo a double solo consisting of the second soprano and the heretofore silent oboe. The singer's voice and the intstrument's music combine and intertwine almost as though we were listening to a chamber duet, Vivaldi ends this 'duet' with a cadenza towards the end of the final ritornello which he clearly wrote with the intention of showing off what the oboe was capable of. He ends the doxology in traditional style by quoting the music of the first movement. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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