Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676): Laetatus sum

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September 23, 2014

During the 1650s Cavalli  was at the height both of his fame and his creative powers, and had reached his career's apex. This was the decade in which he published no less than fourteen of his thirty-two surviving operas and it was the decade in which he published the Musiche sacre (1656).  The Musiche sacre of 1656 is a collection of music – of musical components, for satisfying the liturgical requirements of a wide range of feast days. Such portmanteau publications were fairly common during the seventeenth century but Cavalli's is a particularly comprehensive example of the genre. His setting of Laetatus sum, Psalm 121 (Psalm 122 in protestant bibles) would have been intended to be sung as the gradual proper on the fourth Sunday of Lent but could also be sung during second Vespers on many of the Feasts devoted to the Blessed Virgin and for both Vespers on most feasts of female saints. It's a lovely piece for alto, tenor, and bass voices with five instruments that's very operatic in conception and structure. As you listen you can hear the somewhat lenghty solo passage being passed from one soloist to another. Each soloist sings one verse over the bass line (it's the same bass line – Cavalli maintains it to provide continuity) giving us what is fact an operatic strophic aria of the type introduced by Monteverdi in his opera Orfeo.  Cavalli added a further operatic touch by including a lively ritornello based upon the alto solo's opening notes.  Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Thomas A. Walmisley (1814–1856): Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis – Kampen Boys Choir – YouTube

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September 22, 2014

Walmisley's early display of musical talent led his organist father to send him to Thomas Attwood for lessons in composition. Aged sixteen he was appointed organist of Croydon Parish Church where he came to the notice of Thomas Miller who sponsored him to the combined organistships of Trinity and St John's Colleges, Cambridge. His progress was  astoundingly rapid Walmisley was appointed to the chair of music, while still an undergraduate aged only 22 years old. In 1838 he took the BA degree and became a full member of Trinity College. He took the MA in 1841 and in 1848 presented himself for the degree of MusD. He was something of a musical pioneer who prophesied that Bach's music would be recognised as the supreme accomplishment of a musical genius long before Bach's music was well-known in England. By all accounts he was a brilliant organist and choir trainer under whose guidance the joint choir of Trinity and St John's became known as one of the best in England.  Together with S.S Wesley he was responsible for undoing the effect of generations of neblect upon the standard of British Cathedral music. Unfortunately he was prone to depression from which he sought relief in wine his death at the relatively young age of forty was probably caused by alcoholism. Much of his music is now lost but that which survives is well worth listening particularly when sung by a talented choir such as the invariably excellent Kampen Boys Choir. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Opening concert Utrecht Early Music Festival, 2014: Collegium 1704 – YouTube

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September 21, 2014

When I think of Collegium 1704 what springs to mind immediately is their wonderful work making Zelenka's music better known. They've got rather more than just one string to their bow however as their performance of music by Fux, Tuma and Zelenka at Utrecht's 2014 Utrecht Early Music Festival opening concert demonstrates. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Alleluia (World Premiere) – Salt Lake Vocal Artists – YouTube

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September 20, 2014

The Salt Lake Vocal Artists give the world premiere performance of "Alleluia" by Jake Runestad live in concert on February 21, 2014 in the Granada Theater, under the direction of Dr. Brady Allred. This concert was part of the Western Division conference of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) in Santa Barbara California at which the Salt Lake Vocal Artists were invited to perform.

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Sebastián de Vivanco (1551-1622): O Rex gloriae

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September 19, 2014

This setting of O Rex gloriae by Vivanco would have been sung as the Antiphon to the Magnificat for Second Vespers at Ascension. It's a double-choir motet and was published in  1610 in Salamanca as part of a collection of his motets. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Nisi Dominus RV803

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September 18, 2014

This recently rediscovered work was described by Michael Talbot in his notes to it as Vivaldi's 'swan song' for the Pietà. It's glorious and as Talbot's description of it certainly can't be bettered by me I reproduce it below. So without further ado enjoy :-).

mfi

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Caput eius aurum optimum

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September 17, 2014

Caput eius aurum optimum (His head is as the finest gold) is the twentieth in the series of motets written to be sung in devotional gatherings of the kind popular in Italy as a result of the religious revival spearheaded by St. Phlip Neri in Rome in the 1560s and 1570s.  Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Edvard Grieg (1843-1907): Cradle Song

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September 16, 2014

Grieg's output and range as a song-writer are simply amazing whether it's the vocalisation of I Folketone, his hymns, or the gentle charm of this lullaby which he set from a text by Ibsen just after the birth of his daughter Alexandra. His music captures the mood of the poem you hear the love and joy in every note. Sadly Alexandra died very shortly after this song was written.

mfi

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Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Stript of their green our groves appear

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September 15, 2014

Purcell Closterman Small

This delightful song consists of a text by Peter Anthony Motteux that was set by Purcell for the first issue of Motteux's Gentleman’s Journal  in 1692. Motteux was clearly pleased with the result and said as much adding that he hoped to have it performed before the Queen. I don't know Whether that hope was brought to fruition or not but I stand in awe of Purcell's achievement at setting the text. It must have been a beast to write the music for – even for a musical genius like Purcell.  Take a look at the first few stanzas and you'll see what I mean. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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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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