Posts Tagged ‘ Baroque choral music ’

J. S. Bach (1685–1750): Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu Dir BWV 246/40a (De profundis)

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April 12, 2014

Of the five passions mentioned by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Friedrich Agricola in Johann Sebastian Bach’s obituary notice of 1754 only two have survived the one based on the Gospel According to St. John and the one based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew. There was also a passion based on the Gospel According to St. Mark but only the text of that particular passion has come down to us. So what of the other two? They seem to have vanished without trace but an important point to remember is that the passions Bach presented in Leipzig weren't necessarily always composed by him. He also presented the works of other composers such Reinhard Keiser it's entirely possible that the St. Luke Passion that he presented to the congregation in 1730 and then in 1745 was another composer's work. We also know that the St. Luke Passion published in the 1895  edition of Bach's complete works and listed as BWV 246 is very unlikely to have been composed by Bach. In 1971 writing in the Bach-Jahrbuch the late Yoshitake Kobayashi wrote about an autograph copy by Bach in which he had taken the two-voice setting sung by Peter in the St. Luke passion to the words of the sixth verse of the chorale and refashioned the chorale melody to make it conform to the expanded form in use in his parish. This expansion is the basis of the expanded this chorale setting  you can hear below scored for tenor and five strings, including two violas. A curiosity? Certainly, but one that will amply repay the very small amount of time it takes to listen to.

markfromireland

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Domine ad adiuvandum RV593

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April 10, 2014

This is one of the most perfect pieces of music that Vivaldi ever wrote.  The text is half a verse from Psalm 69 (70) as a response to the versicle with which Vespers begins 'Deus in adjutorium meum intende'. It's one of a group of large-scale double choir works that Vivaldi wrote during the 1720s. It's a brilliantly antiphonal piece of music in which Vivaldi exploits the antiphonal potential of setting a double choir against the orchestra to the hilt. The second movement, an ecstatic Gloria in E minor is followed by a doxology in which the choirs unite in a fugue that have several subjects and counter-subjects. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Salve regina RV616

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April 3, 2014

vivaldi150x150vignetteIn some ways this setting of the Salve is very similar to Vivaldi’s G minor setting (RV618). Both settings are for an alto soloist, Vivaldi divided his strings between two cori and made use of woodwind obbligato instruments in each, and both have a a six-movement structure. So much for the similarities – the differences are quite as important. The most important of these differences is that the vocal part in this setting is both higher and far more flamboyant than that of the G minor setting.

It dates from sometime around 1730 and given that Vivaldi refers to  'la cantante' in the instructions he must have composed for performance in the Ospedale della Pietà although quite why he would have done so at a time when Giovanni Porta was the Pietà's  maestro di coro is something of a mystery.

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): In exitu Israel RV604

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March 27, 2014

This Psalm (113 in the Vulgate and 114 combined with 115 in Protestant bibles) has alway been something of a nightmare for composers. Even if you forget all about the two verses of the doxology you're still left with the problem of how to maintain musical momentum and interest through twenty-seven verses. Vivaldi's setting dates from 1739 which means it's one of a group of psalms he wrote for Easter Sunday at the Pietà in 1739. It's a pleasant piece in which he does actually manage to keep things going nice by dint of varying the patterns of the violin accompaniment, changing the key in which the psalm is sung, and varying the vocal texture as far as possible  within the bounds of the homophonic vocal structure he employed. He also makes use of a responsorial style in which the soprano soloists are answered by the full choir.  Despite all these it's a very simple piece – in fact its simplicity is a large part of its charm. It's sung below by 'Vivaldi's Women' the British all-woman ensemble dedicated to performing Vivaldi's music as he himself would have expected to hear it. (I wrote about this group on October 23, 2011 and if you haven't already seen the fascinating documentary about their work I urge you strongly to do so – you can see it here: Sunday Playlist: Vivaldi and the women of the Pieta – Vivaldi’s Women | Saturday Chorale).

markfromireland

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Confitebor tibi, Domine, RV596

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March 20, 2014

This three-voice setting of a Psalm 111 (110 in the Vulgate) must be one of Vivaldi's greatest musical achievements.  It's relatively late and has no connection to the Pietà   – he probably composed it sometime around 1732. It's a great example of Vivaldi's use of counterpoint characterised by élan and vitality. You'll find it below together with its text, a translation and performer information. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Forthcoming Posts

  • Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625): ‘Drop, drop, slow tears’
  • 6th Sunday of Lent 2014: Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross Op 51

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