Posts Tagged ‘ Baroque choral music ’

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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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Nisi Dominus & Sicut sagittaelis – Roden Boys Choir – YouTube

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September 4, 2014

Something a little different this week from my normal postings in this series dealing with Vivaldi's sacred music. One of the YouTube channels I keep an eye on is treblechoir99 so when I saw that he'd posted these two delightful performances I decided that they were too good not to share. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676): Magnificat A Sei Voci

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August 19, 2014

Cavalli was born in Crema in February 1602 the son of Giovanni Battista Caletti Bruni, who at that time was maestro di cappella in Crema's Cathedral. He had a particularly beautiful voice, so much so that Federigo Cavalli, the chief magistrate of the city and one of Venice's foremost aristocrats took the then fourteen-year old boy with him to Venice promising that not only would he be fed and paid but that Monteverdi himself would be his music teacher (Cavalli changed his name from Bruni to Cavalli in gratitude). His musical career is best described as one of steady progression rather than a meteoric rise, his fame spread and his compositional technique matured, and Cavalli rose steadily through the ranks of the musical profession until he was so well-thought-of that when Monteverdi died it was Cavalli who was hailed as his successor as the most important musical force in The Serene Republic.

He composed this six-part setting of the Magnificat in 1650 to complete the posthumous edition of the Messa a Quattro voci e Salmi published in memory of his mentor, maestro, and friend Claudio Monteverdi.

It's a very good example of what for lack of a better term I'll call post-Monteverdi Venetian. Its structure is highly sectionalised and it's marked by a wonderfully light 'concertato misto' approach. Indeed 'misto' (mixed) describes it precisely, and Cavalli handling of this variation is deft and masterful, there are  solos, duets, trios, embellishments to the vocal line, and some verse taut and tersely written tutti that provide both punctuation and relief.

Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Magnificat RV610a

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July 24, 2014

There are several versions of Vivaldi's Magnificat in G minor the earliest would most likely have been written for the Pietà and dates to some time in or around 1715. Early in the 1720s Vivaldi revisited it reworking the lower voices to make them more suitable for lower voices and adding a pair oboes for whom he expanded 'Sicut locutus est' so that he could take advantage of their novel and pleasing sound in obbligato passages. So much for the instrumental accompaniment what of the disposal of the vocal forces? Well it's specified for two cori, there's some reworking, and Vivaldi's directions on the score specify which of the two cori (or both) should sing what. But to be honest all of that is more a question of Vivaldi trying to show that he was up to date with musical fashion than anything else as the work is distinctly monochoral in its structure and conception. It's an admirlably concise and restrained setting that nevertheless manages to fit a lot of musical drama into very little space. Thus we have the chromaticism of the opening verse followed by a tripartite aria in which each of the three succeeding verses is taken by a different voice this 'aria a tre' is succeeded by the wonderfully poignant  choral handling of 'Et misericordia eius',  which is followed by two choral movements. These are a delight I like how Vivaldi  illustrates the Lord's strength over the bass line ('Fecit potentiam') and the graphic way in which the mighty are put down and the humble are exalted. The soprano duet in which the hungry are 'filled with good things' (Esurientes implevit bonis) is downright charming while the 'Sicut locutus est' terzet which follows on from the brief 'suscepit' is a cheerful and optimistic piece of music – which must have caused a lot of raised eyebrows when it was first heard. Finally the doxology as you might expect opens with a restatement of the work's opening which gives way to a splendidly muscular traditional double fugue. Not easy to sing but a joy to listen to when it's sung well as the excellent Argentinian choir Coral Mirabilia directed by Fernando Polonuer demonstrate below. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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