Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893): Souvenir de Florence

0
July 6, 2014

Tchaikovsky Tchaikovsky composed and scored in June and July 1890 his string sextet in D minor, Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70 at Frolovskoye and revised it at Maydanovo between November 1891 and January 1892. It's scored for 2 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos, and has four movements, lasting somewhere in and around 35 minutes in performance:

  1. Allegro con spirito (D minor)
  2. Adagio cantabile e con moto (D major)
  3. Allegro moderato (A minor)
  4. Allegro vivace (D minor)

Its name was given to it by Tchaikovsky following his return in 1890 from a stay in Florence, he seems to have had quite a lot of difficulty with it describing the task in a letter to Modest Tchaikovsky as 'unimaginably difficult', happily for us he persevered. The name it has to be said is a bit misleading, it's a very Russian piece and whenever I hear it – particularly the last two movements which are so Russian in their character as to be downright stereotypical I find myself thinking that while he may have enjoyed himself thoroughly in Florence he didn't bother to bring back any souvenirs.

It's given me so much pleasure over the years that I really wish it were better known, it's a gracious piece of music that starts with a vigorous main theme which contrasts beautifully well with the subsequenty light and airy lyricism. The second movement opens with a slow version of the first movemen't main theme which progresses to a delightful melody supported by a pizzicato accompaniment. Tchaikovsky then springs a musical surprise by abandoning melodicism and chamber music's formality to produce some music that's pure sound-effect, it's wonderful when it's done properly which is by no means as easy as it sounds because it has to be played with the strings playing rapidly on the point of the bow. The third movement – the only movement in A minor is a happy carefree piece with a trio section that never fails to remind me that this is the man who gave us The Nutcracker. The concluding Allegro vivace makes use of what sounds to me like  a folk tune the tune itself isn't much it's a pleasing musical trifle but oh my what Tchaikovsky does with it! He puts it through its paces including a somewhat surprising fugato before bringing down the curtain with a brilliant close. It is as I say a piece that's given me a great deal of pleasure over the years and I have to say that the performance below which was broadcast on June 27th 2014 by the Dutch Public Broadcasting Organization AVRO as part of their live concerts series is one of the best performances of it I've ever heard. Enjoy :-).

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Ndumiso Manana – 26 April 2014

0
July 5, 2014

As I'm sure you know by now I'm a fan of the Drakensberg Boys' Choir I sometimes wonder how the boys progress musically when they leave the school, so I was very pleased indeed when this video of  Ndumiso Manana turned up in my feed.  He was unforgettable aged ten a decade ago — I think you'll agree he's doing very good things with his talent. Enjoy :-).

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Edmund Turges (?1450-????): From stormy windes

0
July 4, 2014

Arthur Tudor 180x250 captioned I can tell you very little about Edmund Turges we don't know where or when he was born – although London around 1450 is a reasonably good guess. We know that he was admitted to the London parish clerks' company of the Fraternity of St Nicholas between 1468 and 1470 and we know that his songs were played at the court of Henry VII. It's almost certain that Turges himself moved in the court's musical circles and was commissioned to write songs for particular occasions such as his part-song From stormy wyndis which was addressed to Arthur, Prince of Wales (b 1486; d 1502), either to mark his betrothal (1497) or marriage (1501) to Catherine of Aragon, or to pray for his safety before setting out on a journey. Of those three possibilities I think that it was most likely the song was composed for his marriage to Catherine of Aragon because the date 1501 has been added as a note to the lowest voice-part by a later hand furthermore it was used Browne for his setting of Stabat iuxta Christi crucem the next year which suggests to me that Browne was capitalising on the familiarity and popularity of the song. Enjoy :-)

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Meta

Pages

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Juditha Triumphans RV644

0
July 3, 2014

Vivaldi wrote Juditha Triumpans or Juditha Triumphans devicta Holofernes barbarie to give its full title in 1716 for the girls of the Ospedele della Pietà. It's the only one of his oratorios to survive and it's a further demonstration that Vivaldi had full confidence not only in the soloists, and the chorus, but also in the orchestra for whom he wrote glorious music that could only be played by a group of talented and dedicated virtuosi. The score includes parts for recorders, oboes, chalumeaux, trumpets, mandolin, theorboes, viola d’amore and splendid writing for solo strings and continuo.

Venice being Venice spectacle, religion, and politics were closely interwined and this oratorio is no exception the "Sacred military oratorio" is an allegory – a very thinly veiled allegory of the contemporary politico-military tensions in the Adriatic that existed at the time it was composed. What Vivaldi was depicting in concentrated and simplified form was the struggle between Venice and her possessions – Juditha, and the Ottoman Empire – Holofernes. This political aspect accounts for its defiant and assertive tone to say nothing of how heavily it's larded with self-justification. His audience lapped it up but I have to admit it's not my favourite amongs his works. it's very uneven, in fact it's rather like the little girl with the little curl, when it's good it's very very good and when it's bad its, well not horrid, but very very wooden. The major weakness is the chorus which is very under-developed and the arias are very uneven few of them reach the heights of musicality of Veni, veni me Sequere fida but in the face of the splendidly colourful and dramatic orchestral accompaniment that never fails to delight and impress perhaps that hardly matters. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Ecce tu pulcher es

0
July 2, 2014

Ecce tu pulcher es is the eight in the series of motets by Palestrina based upon the Song of Songs. Enjoy :-).

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Felice Anerio (±1560-1614): Magnificat quinti toni

0
July 1, 2014

Felice Anerio (the elder of the two brothers) had a very successful musical career starting as  a choirboy at Santa Maria Maggiore and at St Peter's where he studied under Palestrina. He went on to be maestro di capella  at the Spanish Santa Maria di Monserrato and the English College before being appointed composer to the Papal Chapel following Palestrina's death in 1594. He wrote a lot of music for double choir which was so popular in Rome that the production of its resident composers of polychoral music outstripped that of the Venetians. The Magnificat quinti toni is typical of Anerio's output for the Sistine chapel, it's through-composed and based – very loosely based, on the fifth reciting tone which you can hear quoted in the piece. Anerio provides momentum and interest by dividing the verses between the choirs and making them engage in an antiphonal dialogue, he highlights the important words and phrases in the text by having them sung by eight voices and by switching between homophony and polyphony. It's a beautiful piece of music that really deserves to be far better known. Enjoy :-).

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Search the site by typing into the box

Click any of these tags to see a list of postings on that topic

VOCES8: Jubilate Deo

0
June 30, 2014

A lot of hard work goes into preparing for a concert or a recital but it's worth it as you can hear in the video below from VOCES8. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Deus venerunt gentes

0
June 30, 2014

Byrd's five-part (ATTBB) motet was first published in Cantiones sacrae I in 1589. It's a response to the execution of Edmund Campion and his companions in 1581. It's rarely performed now partly because it's the longest of his imitative motets, partly because it's a beast to sing, and partly because (very unusually for Byrd) it doesn't offer much in the way of musical interest. Worth listening to nevertheless if only to hear how he uses double imitation. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Sunday Concert: West Side Story – Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra

0
June 29, 2014

Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story conducted by Gustavo Dudamel performed by the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra

Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672): Uppsala Magnificat SWV 468

0
June 28, 2014

Heinrich Schütz's Latin setting of the Magnificat was one of a number of works discovered in the music collection in Uppsala University's library it's scored for four soloists, two four voice choruses, two violins, three trombones and continuo  and reflects Schütz' studies in Italy. It's clearly influenced by Monteverdi's Magnificat setting in the 1610 Vespers but it's far more continuous and structurally integrated than Monteverdi's piece. It's very "Venetian" with wonderful harmonies and shows Schütz' complete and confident mastery of writing both for brass and polychoral writing. His teacher Giovanni Gabrieli would surely have been proud. You'll find it below performed by the remarkably talented young French ensemble la Chapelle Rhénane. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Herbert Howells (1892–1983): Exultate Deo Sing we merrily unto God our strength

0
June 27, 2014

Howells' anthem Exultate Deo was commissioned in 1974 for the enthronement service of the new Bishop of Lincoln and received its first performance on 18 January 1975 in Lincoln Cathedral during the enthronement ceremony for the Right Reverend Simon Wilton Phipps. The text is from a number of different psalms and it's Howells at his exuberant and celebratory best. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Gloria RV589

0
June 26, 2014

I wrote about Vivaldi's better-known setting of the Gloria RV589 on August 21, 2011 in my posting dealing with the Thomanerchor's superb performance of the piece and if you're not familiar with that performance it's well worth your while listening to (see: Sunday Playlist: Glorious Gloria | Saturday Chorale).

Vival­di pro­bab­ly com­posed his Gloria in D RV589 in 1715 for the girls' choir of the Os­pedale della Pietà a Venetian orphanage for girls. When I wrote about "Laudamus Te" back on July 31st 2011 I com­men­ted that the Vival­di's com­posi­tion "gives us an idea of how skill­ful the young sing­ers at the Os­pedale della Pietà girls orphanage in Venice for whom Vival­di wrote the piece must have been". Vival­di who spent most of his care­er at the Os­pedale and com­posed vast quan­tit­ies of chor­al and in­strument­al music for its char­ges was sur­e­ly well aware of the pride it took in the mus­ical educa­tion the Os­pedale della Pietà gave the girls under its care and the qual­ity of its orchestra and choir.

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Special Pages