Johann Hermann Schein (1586 – 1630): Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam

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May 7, 2015

Thomaskirche Leipzig Ceiling Detail

Together with Schütz and Scheidt both of whom were friends of his, Schein introduced the Italian style to German music and successfully grafted it onto Lutheran church music. Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam (Christ our Lord to Jordan came) which Schein composed for the Feast of the Nativity of St. John and published in Opella Nova in  1618 is a setting of a text by Martin Luther. It's a very Italianate and cleverly written piece of music which makes use of  colourful word painting and in which each phrase is first stated and then decorated using the phrase itself in diminuendo – a difficult trick to pull off successfully but Schein manages it very well indeed. The dialogue between the two voices is very reminiscent of Monteverdi. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Stella quam viderant Magi – Choir of Trinity College Cambridge

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May 6, 2015

The Epiphany text Stella quam viderant Magi  was frequently set by Sixteenth century composers at least twenty of whom including Josquin Desprez and Palestrina set it. Palestrina's setting is sung here by the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge directed by Stephen Darlington during Choral Evensong from Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, 14th January 2015. I've put the text and translation below the video. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Miguel López (1669 – 1723): Salve Regina – Escolania de Montserrat

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May 5, 2015

Miguel López was born in Villarroya de la Sierra, Aragon in 1669 and entered the Escolanía de Montserrat as a choirboy  aged nine. He became a Benedictine novice in 1684 and a full member of the order in 1686. The Benedictines sent him to their monastery of S Martín, Madrid for seven years between 1689 and 1696 where he combined his duties as monastery organist with studying theology at Salamanca. His confrères must have been impressed by his musical skills because he was twice made choirmaster at Montserrat first for six years between 1699 and 1705 and then again for a three year period between  1715 and 1718. On 25 February 1722 he was appointed manager of the house at Alcañiz belonging to Montserrat but died within months of the appointment. He wrote devotional villancicos for church festivals that ranged from solos with continuo to larger combinations as well as liturgical pieces which tend to be somewhat polychoral compositions in which the instrumental piece(s) are one choir amongst many. His setting of the Salve which you can hear below is quite typical of his music it's pleasant and undramatic if somewhat austere in style relying on alternating points of imitation and antiphonal effects to provide musical interest and forward motion. The performance below by the always superb Escolania de Montserrat was given at a conventual Mass on April 1st 2012. enjoy :-).

mfi

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Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Magnificat tertii toni

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May 4, 2015

Orlande de Lassus 180x200 This is the earlier of two settings of the Magnificat that de Lassus is known to have composed, he composed it early in the 1560s and published it in Nuremberg in 1567 . It's an alternatim setting which combines the third mode plainchant Magnificat with four-part polyphonic settings of the verses which themselves are based on the chant. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Sunday Concert: Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on theme of Paganini – Baltic Youth Philharmonic, Valentina Lisitsa Soloist.

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May 3, 2015

Baltic Youth Philharmonic debut at Berlin Philharmonie.
January 22, 2014 .Kristjan Järvi conducting .

Enjoy :-)

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Manoel de Oliveira (1735-1813): Magnificat

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May 2, 2015

The Brazilian composer Manoel de Oliveira was clearly an amazingly versatile composer who composed a considerable number of works in various styles. Manoel (Manuel) Dias de Oliveira was born in 1735 the son of organist Dias Lourenco de Oliveira and a slave, he never left the region of Minas Gerais where he was born. He occupied an important post as organist at the Matriz Santo Antônio de São José do Rei and this coupled with his membership of influential brotherhoods ensured that his music spread widely. His Magnificat which you can hear below is a very operatic piece that calls for talented soloists capable of closely harmonised and expressive singing. It's a new piece to me and I enjoyed listening to it greatly, I hope you will too.

mfi

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Nicolás de Ledesma (1791-1883): Salve Regina

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May 1, 2015

Dome interiorTarazona cathedral Zaragoza

There was great demand for religious music in nineteenth century Spain much of it like this setting of the Salve by the Aragonese composer and organist Nicolás de Ledesma was quite Italianate.

mfi

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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Widerstehe doch der Sünde BWV 54

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April 30, 2015

Bach monogramWiderstehe doch der Sünde (Stand firm against sin) is an early cantata belonging to Bach's time in Weimar it's his earliest surviving cantata for a solo and was first performed on July 15th 1714. The text is by Georg Christian Lehms and is more than somewhat lurid. The structure of the cantata aria → recit → aria gives little indication of how innovative it was. The convention was that movements should begin by clearly establishing their key but in BWV 54 Bach flew in the face of that convention with dissonance which he promptly highlighted with a throbbing rhythm and rising pitches. It's not until the eight bar in that he begins to establish the key of E-Flat major.

The contrast between the dissonance of the opening and the aria could not be more pronounced Bach makes extensive us of many levels of chromatic harmony to portray sin – both its attractiveness and its danger to  the soul. Throughout the first two verses of the cantata Bach makes extraordinary use of musical colour and shading to bring out the dual nature of sin in Lehms' text the glitter of the gold contrasted the with the dank tomb it conceals, the visual attractiveness of Sodom's apples whose spiritual poison is so severe that it's likened to "a sharp sword, that goes through our body and soul".  His setting of the the final verse is no less chromatic than its predecessors if somewhat sparser in tone. It's a musical tour de force which is by no means easy to sing. Nowadays it's sung by adults, either women, or by a counter tenor as in the recording below but in Bach's time it would have been sung by a choirboy. It says a lot for the abilities of those boys that Bach clearly expected that one of their number would be able to sing this challenging piece.

mfi

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George Frideric Handel (1685-1759): Let the Bright Seraphim – Aksel JS Rykkvin (boy soprano) – Magne H Draagen (organ) – April 2015

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April 29, 2015

Treble Aksel Johannes Skramstad Rykkvin performs "Let the Bright Seraphim" (GF Händel) during his concert with leading cathedral organist Magne H Draagen in Nidaros Cathedral on Easter Sunday April 5, 2015.
http://www.ajsrykkvin.no

Aksel sings in Oslo Cathedral Boys´Choir and in the Children’s Chorus of the Norwegian National Opera.
Voice teachers: Helene Haarr / Marianne Willumsen Lewis

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Jean Mouton (±1459–1522): Per lignum Salvi

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April 28, 2015

st quentin labyrinthMouton is mostly remembered today as as Willaert's teacher but his music is well worth listening to in its own right. He started out as a chorister in Nesle but rose to be master of the child choristers at Amiens Cathedral by 1500. He was rescued from provincial obscurity by being taken up by Anne of Brittany  and wound up being patronised by Pope, Leo X who saw to it that Mouton received several lucrative benefices including one at St. Quentin where he is now buried.(I have a fuller biography of him here: Feature: Jean Mouton (before 1459-1522): Factum est silentium in caelo | Saturday Chorale). His five-part Easter motet, is built around a canon in the two inner voices and expresses the exaltation of salvation in a style that is almost rhapsodic. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Stabat Mater — Plainsong — Coro de Cámara Abadía

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April 27, 2015

Stabat Mater Dolorosa performed here as plainsong by the Coro de Cámara Abadía

mfi
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Franz Schubert – Sonata in B-flat major D 960 – Severin von Eckardstein – Live Concert

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April 26, 2015

Severin von Eckardstein's performance of Schubert's  Sonata in B-flat major D  960, and Impromptu opus 90 nr 3,  at the Young Pianist Festival, Amsterdam November 15th 2013. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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