Posts Tagged ‘ Baroque choral music ’

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): In turbato mare irato RV627

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October 2, 2014

This is one of four pieces of Vivaldi's sacred music sent to the court at Dresden it's a very old fashioned piece that uses the old baroque operatic metaphor of ships buffeted by stormy seas, looking for shelter in this case with the aid of the 'Star of The Sea' – the  stella maris, one the Virgin Mary's titles of honour.  It's a surprisingly difficult piece to perform well – it needs a soprano soloist with presence and control, but it also needs the various parts of accompaniment to come through clearly without swamping either each other or the soloist. Happily for us in the performance you'll find below Dominique Labelle and the Voices of Music manage to achieve precisely this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did – their notes are well worth reading too.

mfi

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Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672): Surrexit pastor bonus, SWV469

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September 26, 2014

When Schütz was appointed Kapellmeister at the court in Dresden in 1617 he set to work composing music to be performed at all the civic and religious occasions of the court. One of the pieces he composed was this SATB Easter motet 'Surrexit pastor bonus' (The Good Shepherd is risen) the text of which is a responsory for the second day of Easter. It's a cheerful and optimistic piece that bubbles over with joy. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Laudate pueri RV602

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September 25, 2014

This is Vivaldi composing music on a grand scale for performance during Vespers at the Pietà. Each verse is a separate movement which is linked to the others by the device of treating a verse – in this case the second one, as a refrain. In some ways I find it a strange work full of contrasts. There's the bright and almost naive second verse which sets overall tone for the piece. But against that we have the deep melancholy of 'Excelsus super omnes' which is the musical and emotional heart of the work and which uses the form of a siciliana to express desperation instead of the rustic vigour one might expect from a siciliana. The fourth and fifth verses are strophed, that is Vivaldi paraphrases but without repeating his setting of the fourth verse in the fifth. These are followed by the dramatic sixth movement 'Suscitans a terra …' in which the two soprano soloists vie with each other to describe the scene. The final part of the Psalm itself 'Ut collocet eum …' is a simple rustic dance of the type Vivaldi made much use of in the first decade of the eighteenth century. Once the Psalm ends we have the doxology, at the time this was composed it was traditional to introduce a somewhat showy solo Vivaldi obeys the tradition but evidently determined to go one step better makes the solo a double solo consisting of the second soprano and the heretofore silent oboe. The singer's voice and the intstrument's music combine and intertwine almost as though we were listening to a chamber duet, Vivaldi ends this 'duet' with a cadenza towards the end of the final ritornello which he clearly wrote with the intention of showing off what the oboe was capable of. He ends the doxology in traditional style by quoting the music of the first movement. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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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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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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