Sunday Concert: Maria Callas Opera Arias – YouTube

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September 14, 2014

If you've ever wondered what all the fuss was about now's your chance to find out. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Drakensberg Boys Choir – Mozart Requiem – YouTube

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September 13, 2014

I. Introitus: Requiem Aeternam
II. Kyrie eleison

What makes the Drakensberg Boys Choir so unique is the fact that they use boy tenors and bass as opposed to adult males and they sound incredible in this piece.

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Plorans Plorabit

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September 12, 2014

William Byrd captioned 150x220pxByrd's five part (SAATB) setting of verses seventeen and eighteen from Jeremiah 13 was published in the 1605 Gradualia. It's a bit unusual in that unlike most of the content of the 1605 gradualia  it's not a liturgical motet. Further more its text was manifestly chosen as a reference to  the situation of the English Catholic community and their persecution at the hands of an increasingly hostile protestant state. In fact in choosing these particular verses Byrd was going quite a bit further than he'd gone before in warning the monarch and his queen (James I and Anne of Denmark) that their continuing to hold the Lord's flock captive would lead to divine retribution unless they humbled themselves :

Plorans plorabit, et deducet oculus meus lacrimas, quia captus est grex Domini. Dic regi et
dominatrici: Humiliamini, sedete, quoniam descendit de capite vestro corona gloriae vestrae.

Mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away
captive. Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your
principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory.

Jeremiah 13, vv. 17–18

The sense of grief throughout this lament for the condition of his fellow Catholics is palpable it's a flood of grief and anger that sweeps all before it. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Laudate pueri RV600

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September 11, 2014

Vespers was a very important service which accounts for the many settings of the Psalms which were such an important component in its structure.  This particular setting by Vivaldi of Psalm 112  Laudate Pueri is a fairly early work. it's in C minor and is a surprisingly dark-toned piece. It's a lovely multi-movement work for soloist – who would originally have been one of the Pietà's famous orphan musicians. It's not my favourite amongst Vivaldi's religious pieces or even of his settings of this Psalm. I'm not quite sure why, it's not that his highly elaborated setting doesn't work because it does. But somehow it feels quite untidy almost as though Vivaldi was still experimenting to find what worked and what didn't don't let that put you off it is as I say a lovely piece. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Adiuro vos, filiae Hierusalem

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September 10, 2014

This is the nineteenth in the series of twenty-nine motets based upon The Song of Songs intended to be sung on non-liturgical devotional occasions. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Dieterich Buxtehude (±1637-1707): Cantate Domino

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September 9, 2014

Buxtehude Captioned 150x150 Dieterich Buxtehude's setting of the first four verses from Psalm 95 in the Vulgate (Psalm 96 in protestant bilbles) is a motet scored for SSB or SAB with accompaniment – Viola Da Gamba and organ. It's a lovely piece that has strong Italianate influences. Close your eyes and you could easily imagine it to be from Monteverdi's pen. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Sebastián de Vivanco (±1550-1622): Versa est in luctum

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September 8, 2014

Sebastián de Vivanco was one of the leading Spanish composers of his time. He was born in Avila –  the same town as de Victoria, and as you can see from his birth and death dates was de Victoria's contemporary. Stevenson speculates that he studied under the same masters as de Victoria which seems to me to be entirely probable. His career was that of a musical star maestro de capilla at Lérida Cathedral,  maestro de capilla at Segovia Cathedral, maestro de capilla at Avila Cathedral, maestro de capilla at Salamanca Cathedral, Professor of Music at Salamanca University. Nor did his fame die with him his music – including this setting of Versa est in luctum, was still a part of the repertoire more than a century after his death.

Versa est in luctum the text of which is taken from the Book of Job Chapter 30 Verse 31 is a motet intended to be sung at the end of a Missa pro Defunctis, a Requiem mass. Why was such a motet necessary particularly as the text of Versa est in luctum was not part of the traditional Spanish liturgy?

The answer lies in Spanish liturgical practices.  In de Vivanco's time Spanish usage was that a sermon was normally preached before the last rites were administered to the deceased and that in between these two events which were called 'The Oration' and 'The Absolution' a motet was sung. The purpose of such music, of all religious music, was not only Ad Majoram Dei Gloriam but also to heighten and intensify the emotions being felt by the congregation. The text of Versa est in luctum is certainly entirely suited to this purpose and even a moderately well educated Spaniard of the time would have found its references to musical mourning and weeping together with its pleas to God for mercy not only appropriate but a stimulus to reflection. Vivanco's meditative and plangent setting matches the text and its purpose perfectly  it's also somewhat unusual from a composer more often thought of in connection with his villancicos.

mfi

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Sunday Concert: American Boychoir Experience concert at Princeton Center for Arts & Education 2012 – YouTube

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September 7, 2014

The American Boychoir Experience is a programme in which boys from eight to twelve years old who might be interested in singing choral music with the choir get to experience one week in the life of an American Boychoir student without the academic classes. The week is a fully professional experience in choral training that includes music theory classes and a public performance as well as a Tour Bus event and some fun and games. The video is a little bit jerky but the singing definitely isn't. The American Boychoir are a stunningly good choir. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): The Battell – Philip Jones Brass Ensemble – YouTube

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September 6, 2014

Found it! Thank you YouTube I've been looking for this for a quite a while – Byrd's "Battell" transcribed and absolutely stunning. It's played here by the renowned and now alas long since defunct Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. There's an absolutely superb article by Sally Mosher on the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship site which is well worth reading and which you'll find here William Byrd’s “Battle” and the Earl of Oxford. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Leo Delibes (1836–1891): Messe Brève (Missa Brevis) – Escolania del Escorial

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September 5, 2014

Most people when they think of Delibes think either his operas - Lakme with it's renowned flower duet and bell song being the most famous, and perhaps also his choruses, and well ... ... ... that's it. But in fact that's not it, or not entirely it, he also wrote some religious music including this setting of the Mass. It's beautiful and as a piece of music its quality speaks for itself. In fact I've never understood why recordings of it are so hard to get.

You can hear the influence of Delibes' love of music for the theatre in the dramatic and lively Kyrie and Gloria but it's his Sanctus which is downright angelic, the hushed and serene O Salutaris, and the reverential Agnus Dei which really make this Mass special. It's a lovely piece that lives up to its name - it really is short around fifteen minutes with lovely flowing lines and a gentle lyricism that's fairly easily attainable by most choirs. All of this makes it a fairly popular part of the choral repertoire - there are some very nice performances here on YouTube, but for some strange reason there are very few recordings of the Mass in its entirety available commercially. Enjoy :-).
mfi

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Nisi Dominus & Sicut sagittaelis – Roden Boys Choir – YouTube

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September 4, 2014

Something a little different this week from my normal postings in this series dealing with Vivaldi's sacred music. One of the YouTube channels I keep an eye on is treblechoir99 so when I saw that he'd posted these two delightful performances I decided that they were too good not to share. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Surgam et circuibo civitatem

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September 3, 2014

Surgam et circuibo civitatem (I will arise and go about the city) is the eighteenth in the series of motets based upon The Song of Solomon that he wrote in 1583 and received its first of many publications the next year in Rome. Palsestrina assembled the biblical texts and set them for performance by the devotional groups that flourished at that time under the influence of the Oratorian movement of St Philip Neri. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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