Music Notes The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3.html Tue, 24 Jan 2017 01:39:46 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Largo Al Factotum from The Barber of Seville http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/20995-largo-al-factotum-from-the-barber-of-seville.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/20995-largo-al-factotum-from-the-barber-of-seville.html Largo Al Factotum from The Barber of Seville

Young Count Almaviva is in love with Rosina, ward of the cantankerous Dr. Bartolo. With the help of some local musicians, he serenades her outside her balcony window (“Ecco ridente”), but she does not appear. Despairing, he dismisses the band. Just as they disperse, he hears someone approaching and hides. It is Figaro, barber and factotum extraordinaire, who will take on any job as long as he is well paid (“Largo al factotum”). Having recognized Figaro, Almaviva emerges from hiding and lays out his problem. The Count is in luck, for Figaro is frequently employed in Bartolo’s house as barber, wigmaker, surgeon, pharmacist, herbalist, veterinarian—in short, as jack-of-all-trades.

Largo Al Factotum

Rossini was composing an opera based on the first play of Beaumarchais famous trilogy of plays: Le Barbier de Séville, Le Marriage de Figaro, and La Mère Coupable. Twenty years earlier, Mozart had composed his opera The Marriage of Figaro, and comparisons between ‘Barber’ and ‘Figaro’ continue to this day. Furthermore, there was an earlier “Barbiere de Siviglia”,composed by Giovanni Paisello in 1776.

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Beaumarchais - Le Barbier de Séville, 1776

 

Like many great composers, Gioachino Rossini demonstrated musical genius at a young age. His first opera was produced when he was only 18. His first big hit was “Tancredi” in 1813 when he was 21, followed by ‘Barber’ at age 23. Quite possibly that “The Barber of Seville” was the fastest opera ever written. It is said that Rossini composed ‘Barber’ in 13 days. In any case, as it was commissioned by Duke Cesarini, the impresario of the Teatro Argentina, on December 26, 1815, it had to have been written between that day and its première on February 5, 1816, only 40 days later.

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Young Gioachino Rossini

 

Everybody know Rossini’s aria. Figaro is one of the most widely recognized opera characters and his aria “ Largo al factotum” has, no doubt, been the aria used most in cartoons. For some people, their one and only opera reference may come from this aria!

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Largo al factotum, score

 

Factotum - an employee who does all kinds of work. Figaro, in’Largo al factotum del città’ (Make way for the factotum of the city), explains his ability to do everything for everybody in the opera, if not in the entire city of Seville.

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Tito Gobbi - Largo al factotum

 

Typically, Figaro sings this aria alone onstage at the first entrance of the title character; the repeated "Figaro"s before the final patter section. Due to the constant singing of triplets in 6/8 meter at an allegro vivace tempo, the piece is often noted as one of the most difficult baritone arias to perform. This, along with the tongue-twisting nature of some of the lines, insisting on Italian superlatives (always ending in "-issimo"), have made it a pièce de résistance in which a skilled baritone has the chance to highlight all of his qualities.

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Mario del Monaco - Largo al factotum

 

“The Barber of Seville” is almost 200 years old but is perpetually young. “Largo al factotum” is so familiar that it’s hard to imagine how new and different from anything before it must have seemed to audiences in the second decade of the 19th century.

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Gioachino Rossini

 

Largo al factotum (Italian)


Largo al factotum della città.
Presto a bottega che l'alba è già.
Ah, che bel vivere, che bel piacere
per un barbiere di qualità! di qualità!
	
Ah, bravo Figaro!
Bravo, bravissimo!
Fortunatissimo per verità!

Pronto a far tutto,
la notte e il giorno
sempre d'intorno in giro sta.
Miglior cuccagna per un barbiere,
vita più nobile, no, non si da.
	
Rasori e pettini
lancette e forbici,
al mio comando
tutto qui sta.
V'è la risorsa,
poi, del mestiere
colla donnetta... col cavaliere...
	
Tutti mi chiedono, tutti mi vogliono,
donne, ragazzi, vecchi, fanciulle:
Qua la parrucca... Presto la barba...
Qua la sanguigna...
Presto il biglietto...
Qua la parrucca, presto la barba,
Presto il biglietto, ehi!
	
Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!, ecc.
Ahimè, che furia!
Ahimè, che folla!
Uno alla volta, per carità!
Ehi, Figaro! Son qua.
Figaro qua, Figaro là,
Figaro su, Figaro giù.
	
Pronto prontissimo son come il fulmine:
sono il factotum della città.
Ah, bravo Figaro! Bravo, bravissimo;
a te fortuna non mancherà.

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Placido Domingo - Largo al factotum

 

Largo al factotum (English translation)


Make way for the factotum of the city,
Hurrying to his shop for it's already dawn.
Ah, what a fine life, what fine pleasure
For a barber of quality!

Ah, bravo Figaro!
Bravo, bravissimo!
Most fortunate indeed!

Ready to do everything
Night and day,
Always on the move.
A cushier fate for a barber,
A more noble life, is not to be had.

Razors and combs,
Lancets and scissors,
At my command
Everything's there.
Here are the tools
Of my trade
With the ladies...with the gentlemen...

Everyone asks for me, everyone wants me,
Ladies, young lads, old men, young girls:
Here is the wig... The beard is ready...
Here are the leeches...
The note is ready...
Here is the wig, the beard is ready,
The note is ready, hey!

Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!, etc.
Dear me, what frenzy!
Dear me, what a crowd!
One at a time, for pity's sake!
Hey, Figaro! I'm here.
Figaro here, Figaro there,
Figaro up, Figaro down.

Swifter and swifter, I'm like a thunderbolt:
I'm the factotum of the city.
Ah, bravo Figaro! Bravo, bravissimo,
You'll never lack for luck!

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Gioachino Rossini

 

 

Largo Al Factotum from The Barber of Seville (Andre Rieu)

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:42:20 +0000
The Grand Sonata – Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B Minor http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/20598-the-grand-sonata--liszts-piano-sonata-in-b-minor.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/20598-the-grand-sonata--liszts-piano-sonata-in-b-minor.html The Grand Sonata – Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B Minor

What we can never deny is that Liszt and Chopin were the two that totally changed the piano technique, and we would not be wrong to say that not such an important advancement in piano technique has been made since what they did. Starting from the technique of using a coin on the wrist and then developing their études (either by Chopin or Liszt), it seems one of the big gaps ever jumped in the history of art.

 

The Liszt Sonata in B Minor. The name causes pianists to tremble, perhaps even fall off their piano benches. Liszt's powerful masterpiece is difficult to understand, and even more devilishly difficult to play. The roughly 30 minute piece is one of Franz Liszt's greatest achievements. It really sums up Liszt as a composer: forceful, unforgiving storms of sound, wild cadenzas and soul-stirring melodies.

 

Liszt - Piano Sonata in B Minor

It is likely that Liszt derived the idea of thematic transformation as a unifying process from Schubert’s “Wanderer Fantasy,” a work which he himself transcribed for piano and orchestra in 1851. Schubert’s themes run through all four movements of the fantasy in varied forms. The four movements are played without a break, and outline a symmetrical key scheme— C, E, A flat, C. This kind of formal plan held a strong attraction for Liszt, and many of the works of his Weimar period follow this model, besides the Piano Sonata in B Minor also the first piano concerto is another example.

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Franz Liszt

 

The sonata in B minor is possibly the best exponent of Liszt´s mastery in piano and in composition. Indeed a pinnacle, a monument, in the history of piano and of music in general, not only for his improvements in the technique but also for the revolutionary conception of the piece itself. The big scales, chords and succession of octaves must not be seen as a mere adornment since they not only give stress but give together a sensation of orchestral sound in the piano. Apart form the mere piano technique, the composer followed the path of changing the sonata form, a path formerly opened by Beethoven, to turn it into one big movement, as in his symphonic poems.

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Schubert-Liszt – Wanderer Fantasy (Brendel)

 

But in reality the whole work is tightly constructed from the music of the sonata's introduction. From that introduction he develops, first, three striking and powerful themes, then a passage sounding like a religious chorale. The final main section not only demands the utmost in piano technique to deal with its prestissimo tempo, but also employs elements of all the themes which have been spun out of the opening. Ultimately, in an eloquent concluding Andante, Liszt returns to the earliest versions of the main musical material and recedes into silence. Full of Romantic fire and spontaneity as the sonata may be, it also fits, depending on how one listens to it, into either the pattern of a single sonata-allegro-form movement (with exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda), or the four-movement structure of a traditional sonata (opening movement, slow movement, scherzo, and finale). Thus this work remains an enduring masterpiece even in the estimation of those listeners who tend to find Liszt's music overblown. In the Sonata in B minor, Liszt, the great radical, connected himself convincingly with the sonata tradition.

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Franz Liszt

 

The sonata was published in the spring of 1854 and dedicated to Robert Schumann. Liszt meant this as a reciprocal gesture to Schumann in response to his being the dedicatee of the latter’s Fantasy in C major (1839), a work that Liszt described as sublime. However, Schumann never knew of the B Minor Sonata’s existence since by the time a copy of the newly published work arrived at the Schumann’s home in May, 1854, Schumann was already at the asylum at Endenich.

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Clara and Robert Schumann

 

Clara Schumann, venerated as the leading woman pianist of the time, despised it, writing in her diary that "it is a blind noise.... It really is too awful." Unfortunately, Clara’s opinion was not atypical. During this period, and especially in this part of Germany, Liszt was often treated to an unkind dismissal by the musical society. When the work received its première performance, in Berlin, on January 22, 1857, nearly four years after its composition, it provoked a minor scandal among the conservative critics, from which it recovered with difficulty. Rarely did such great music get off to a less promising start.

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Franz Liszt

 

In 1855 Liszt's pupil Karl Klindworth gave Richard Wagner a private recital in London. The next day, Wagner wrote to the composer, "Dearest Franz, You were with me, the sonata is beautiful beyond compare; great, sweet, deep and noble, sublime as you are yourself."

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Richard Wagner

 

For the next two years, Liszt's brilliant pupil Hans Bülow prepared the technically arduous composition under Liszt's guidance. Bülow would give the world premiere on Jan. 27, 1857, in Berlin. It was a unique evening, also being the first public hearing of Bülow's friend Carl Bechstein's first concert grand. The piano received accolades from the audience, but the critics crushed the sonata. How, they asked, could Liszt show such disrespect for the time-honored multimovement classical sonata? One critic called it "an invitation to hissing and stamping."

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Carl Bechstein

 

In 1880, 23 years after its premiere, London would officially hear it, and Saint-Saëns performed it in Paris the same year. Bülow unveiled it in Vienna in 1881, where it was still controversial. The dreaded critic of Wagner and Liszt, Eduard Hanslick, cried in print, "whoever has heard that, and finds it beautiful, is beyond help." Yet by the turn of the century it was receiving frequent performances in Europe. During the 1920s Rachmaninoff played it often.

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Hans Bülow

 

Vladimir Horowitz created a sensation with the sonata at his 1928 Carnegie hall debut. When, four years later, Horowitz made his now legendary recording of the B Minor Sonata, pianists world-wide made haste to learn it. The piece subsequently became an indispensable part of the repertoires of Argerich, Barenboim, Brendel, Gilels, Pollini and many others, all of whom have recorded it.

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Vladimir Horowitz - Carnegie Hall 1928, poster

 

Franz Liszt once said, "My sole ambition as a composer is to hurl my javelin into the infinite space of the future." Indeed, though as both performer and composer he was one of the potent forces of Romanticism, Liszt's impact on modernism—on composers such as Ravel, Scriabin and Schönberg—was considerable. Ferruccio Busoni proclaimed, "We are all descended from him radically."

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Liszt – Sonata in B Minor. Vladimir Horowitz 1932

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Tue, 01 Nov 2016 15:07:22 +0000
Leos Janacek’s String Quartet No. 1, "Kreutzer Sonata" http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/20189-leos-janaceks-string-quartet-no-1-qkreutzer-sonataq-.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/20189-leos-janaceks-string-quartet-no-1-qkreutzer-sonataq-.html Leos Janacek’s String Quartet No. 1, "Kreutzer Sonata"

What links Tolstoy, Beethoven, a virtuoso violinist and a young, married Czech woman? The inspiration for the elderly Janacek's string quartets. Beethoven's heroic sonata for violin and piano, Tolstoy's dark and disturbing novella, and Leos Janacek's intensely descriptive and often frenetic first string quartet are all linked by the same name: the Kreutzer Sonata. Rodolphe Kreutzer, a French violin virtuoso who ignored Beethoven's dedication and never performed the original sonata (apparently declaring it unplayable), is known today for a book of useful violin studies, but primarily for these three great works that bear his name, and whose value he could have barely imagined.

Leos Janacek - String Quartet No. 1, ‘Kreutzer Sonata’

In Tolstoy's 1889 novella, a woman who is trapped in a loveless marriage plays Beethoven's sonata with a dashing violinist, and seems carried away by the music's passion. Her husband, plagued by jealous fantasies, cuts short a business trip and comes home unexpectedly, well after midnight. He finds her together with the violinist in the dining room, fully clothed but involved in an intimate conversation. Convinced she has betrayed him, he kills her in a fit of jealous rage. Since Tolstoy narrates this tale through the husband's obsessive and bitter point of view, we never know for sure what has happened between the unnamed wife and her sonata partner.

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Leo Tolstoy

 

Janacek's string quartets were borne from his love for Kamila Stösslova. In 1917, the 63 year old composer fell in love with a 25 year old woman. Though the infatuation was one-sided, and he was well aware of it, she became his inspiring Muse. They lived in different cities and were both married, but carried on written correspondence.

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Leos Janacek

 

“As obsessed as he was with Kamila, Janacek was obsessed with short musical ideas that could convey maximum emotional impact in the fewest possible notes" says commentator Rob Kapilow.

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Kamila Stösslova, portrait

 

The First String Quartet, composed swiftly in autumn 1923, uses Leo Tolstoy's short story “The Kreutzer Sonata” as its primary source material. "I was imagining a poor woman, tormented and run down, just like the one the Russian writer Tolstoy describes in his Kreutzer Sonata", Janacek confided in one of his letters to Kamila. Janacek was attracted by the novella's dramatic urgency and emotional extremes, and he succeeded in rendering its narrative arc in a compelling series of musical events.

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Rodolphe Kreutzer

 

Leos Janacek’s String Quartet No. 1, "Kreutzer Sonata", was written in a very short space of time, between 13 and 28 October 1923, at a time of great creative concentration. The work was revised by the composer in the autograph from 30 October to 7 November 1923.

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Janacek with wife

 

The work as a whole seems to be constructed by the juxtaposition of melodic and rhythmic fragments. The melancholy first movement, with its opening rising motif, sets the tone of the work. The narrator is recounting to us a tale told to him by a stranger on a train. The second movement scherzo, a rather grim one at that, is again composed of fragments; a polka-like theme, a tremolo passage played sul ponticello (at the bridge), and a motif somewhat related to the theme from Beethoven that will be featured in the following movement. The third movement actually quotes the second, slow theme from the first movement of Beethoven’s work, first heard in measure 8. Its distortion and obsessive repetition suggest that we are hearing it through the ears of the jealous husband. In the fourth movement, we hear a reprise of the rising motif from the first movement in the low strings, as well as a theme played by the first violin marked "like in tears". In this movement the drama is brought to its terrible end.

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Janacek with Kamila Stosslova

 

Janacek once wrote: "I maintain that a pure musical note means nothing unless it is pinned down in life, blood and locale; otherwise, it is a worthless toy." Reading through Janacek's letters, Rob Kapilow says there are hints that the composer was aware of his own fictionalized love affair. Yet the fiction must have been incredibly real, driving him to compose piece after piece."Maybe in the areas of inspiration, the distinction between fiction and reality is unimportant," Kapilow says. "In any case, we should all be as lucky and creative with our fictions as Janacek was with his."

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Leos Janacek

 

The work was premiered by the Bohemian Quartet at a concert in Prague on Oct. 17, 1924. It then received a performance at the International Society for Contemporary Music Festival in Venice in 1925, followed two years later by its U.S. premiere in New York.

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The Kreutzer Sonata

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Sun, 14 Aug 2016 11:03:59 +0000
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047 http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/19797-bach-brandenburg-concerto-no-2-in-f-major-bwv-1047.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/19797-bach-brandenburg-concerto-no-2-in-f-major-bwv-1047.html Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047

Everyone who knows the Second Brandenburg Concerto thinks: 'Oh great, a Baroque trumpet concerto!' Hence: Baroque trumpet, physical power, high tones, sound – and everything else is secondary. But that's just what it is not: Bach wrote a concerto for four different but equal instruments: trumpet, recorder, oboe, violin. The art was to create a dialogue among these four instruments, and this is obviously only posible when the trumpet plays as softly as the recorder and the recorder as loud as the trumpet. (Nikolaus Harnoncourt)

Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047

Although they are often discussed, recorded, and published as a collection, the six concertos encompassing the so-called Brandenburg Concertos were not written all at once, nor for the same ensemble. Scholars suspect that Nos. 1, 3, and 6 may have been written much earlier than the others, perhaps dating from Bach's Weimar period (1708-1717), while 2, 4, and 5 most likely came from Cöthen. Bach later put the six concertos together and dedicated them to the Margrave of Brandenburg Christian Ludwig, hoping to get a new job out of it. (He did not.) In fact, the only commonality among the six is the use of a three-movement, fast-slow-fast design; this indicates that the Brandenburg Concerti were based on Italian concerto format. Beyond that, they have nothing in common, and, in fact, among the six, there is as much variety as you can find in any six works by Bach.

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Margrave Christian Ludwig

 

Because King Frederick William I of Prussia was not a significant patron of the arts, Christian Ludwig seems to have lacked the musicians in his Berlin ensemble to perform the concertos. The full score was left unused in the Margrave's library until his death in 1734, when it was sold for 24 groschen of silver. The autograph manuscript of the concertos was only rediscovered in the archives of Brandenburg by Siegfried Wilhelm Dehn in 1849; the concertos were first published in the following year.

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Siegfried Wilhelm Dehn

 

The Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 may have been one of the last to be written, and it certainly seems like a special-occasion piece. It's a concerto featuring four prominent instruments -- trumpet, recorder (flute), oboe, and violin -- against a foundation of strings and continuo. The writing is virtuosic and brilliant; the high trumpet part, in particular, brings many fine players to grief.

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Brandenburg Concerto No.2, sheet

 

This is an example of a common orchestral genre of the Baroque known as the concerto grosso. (The same is true for Brandenburg Concerto No. 5). A concerto grosso utilizes two ensembles, one large and one small. The large one is called the ripieno or tutti; this includes the orchestra. A group of soloists comprise the smaller group, entitled the concertino (meaning little concerto group). The number of soloists and instruments used was entirely up to the composer to decide.

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Freiburg Barockorchester plays Brandenburg Concerto No. 2

 

The trumpet part is very virtuosic, written to employ a style of playing known as clarino playing, in which the trumpeter played in the highest range of the instrument, and used quickly-changing lip pressure to change the pitch of the instrument. Nikolaus Harnoncourt (famous conductor) says: "The trumpet which we use is a natural trumpet, i.e. there are no technical means such as valves and keys. The player has to do everything on his own. How was it played in Bach's time? I think that there were exceptional talents on specific instruments back then just as today. And we know that there was a phenomenal trumpet player in Bach's day who could play everything an octave higher. Bach must have had such a trumpet player at his disposal, since the level of difficulty of this piece is unusual for its time."

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Piccolo Trumpet

 

Parts:
1.    [no tempo indication] (usually performed at Allegro)
2.    Andante
3.    Allegro assai

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Orchestra Mozart plays Brandenburg Concerto No. 2

 

The trumpet part is still considered one of the most difficult in the entire repertoire, and was originally written for a clarino (natural trumpet) specialist. The clarino does not play in the second movement, as is common practice in baroque era concerti. This is due to its construction, which allows it to play only in major keys. Because concerti often move to a minor key in the second movement, concerti that include the instrument in their first movement and are from the period before the valved trumpet was commonly used usually exclude the trumpet from the second movement.

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Clarino

 

Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 provides an excellent example of Bach's use of a ritornello. Bach was an unofficial student of the composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), whose works he copied by hand (the best way to get copies of music in those days) and sometimes restored. One of the hallmarks of Vivaldi's style is his use of orchestral ritornellos, not just in his concertos (as in the concerto Spring from The Four Seasons), but sometimes in his sacred music (as in the first movement of his famous Gloria). Vivaldi typically began his concertos with a full statement of the orchestral ritornello (sometimes even two full statements), then in between solo passages, he would bring the ritornello back again, though often each subsequent appearance was a bit shorter than the previous. Bach probably got the idea of using a ritornello from studying Vivaldi, and even in this piece, you'll see that some ritornello statements are indeed shorter than the first.

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Johann Sebastian Bach

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Mon, 30 May 2016 17:20:57 +0000
Handel – Allelujah (from Messiah) http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/19457-handel-allelujah-from-messiah.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/19457-handel-allelujah-from-messiah.html Handel – Allelujah (from Messiah)

 

 

 

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,

King of kings, and Lord of lords,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Sun, 27 Mar 2016 08:29:43 +0000
Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/19387-szymanowskis-stabat-mater.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/19387-szymanowskis-stabat-mater.html Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater

Although Szymanowski is best-known for his orchestral and chamber music, his contribution to vocal music was far from negligible. He wrote collected songs and several stage-works, notably his opera “King Roger”, while both the Third Symphony and the ballet “Harnasie” (Mountain Robbers) include a tenor solo and chorus. Towards the end of his life, he composed choral music on sacred topics, the two short cantatas “Veni Creator” and “Litany to the Virgin Mary.” Undoubtedly, however, his vocal-instrumental masterpiece is the Stabat Mater. Despite its modest size and forces, it is one of his most expressive and resonant works and is one of the glories of twentieth-century sacred music.

Karol Szymanowski – Stabat Mater

Szymanowski described his “Stabat Mater” as a ‘Peasant Requiem'. In fact, unlike the works Karol Szymanowski composed during the first two decades of the 20th century, his “Stabat Mater” could only have been written in a country with Slavic culture. Drawing on his musical roots and mother tongue, he wrote a transparent score for soloists, mixed choir and orchestra. It is all fascinatingly simple. The melodies consist of minor and major seconds and thirds and the pace of most movements is slow; only the second movement has a rhythm and melody that seem to pre-empt Orff’s Carmina Burana. It is a unique masterpiece of oratorio.

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Karol Szymanowski

 

“Stabat Mater” was commissioned by the Warsaw patron of the arts, Dr Bronislaw Krystall. The piece was meant as a requiem dedicated to the memory of Krystall's prematurely deceased wife. However, the death of Szymanowski's niece Alusia made the composer decide to change the contract, and compose a Stabat Mater instead of a Requiem. Under the circumstances, the theme of the suffering and grief of the Mother of the crucified Jesus was closer to the composer's heart. The work was completed in 1926 and, in accordance with the contract, was dedicated "To the memory of Izabela Krystallowa".

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Bronislaw Krystall

 

The text Szymanowski used was Jozef Jankowski's Polish translation, ‘Stala matka bolejaca’, of the famous Mediaeval sequence 'Stabat Mater dolorosa', but outside Poland the work is sometimes performed with the original Latin lyrics. Although the 13th-century text is inherently dramatic, Janowski's translation is especially raw. Kornel Michałowski indicates the composer's initial attraction to the Polish translation was a result of its "unusually primitive, almost 'folk-like' simplicity and naivety."

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Jozef Jankowski

 

In the “Stabat Mater for soloists, choir and orchestra opus 53,” the composer created a Polish atmosphere by marrying popular elements with modern harmonic and tonal means’ but without ‘citing’ the music of the mountains, found in Zakopane which he made his permanent home in 1930, suffering from tuberculosis. Coinciding with his composition of Stabat Mater, was Szymanowski's study of early music – encompassing "pre-Palestrinian" and Palestrinian periods, as well as a study of old-Polish religious music. Devices used indicating this influence include: parallel movement between voices, modal pitch organization, and strongly patterned rhythms such as ostinati. Also incorporated into the work are melodic elements of two Polish Hymns: "Swiety Boze" [Holy God] and Gorzkie zale [Bitter Sorrows].

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Szymanowski - Stabat Mater, autograf

 

The world premiere of Stabat Mater took place without the composer being present, as he was ill and staying at an Austrian sanatorium, on 11 January 1929 at the Warsaw Philharmonic, with soloists Stanisława Korwin-Szymanowska (the composer's sister), Halina Leska and Eugeniusz Mossakowski, conducted by Grzegorz Fitelberg. Many critics hailed the piece as Szymanowski's greatest work. The composer himself spoke of Stabat Mater as a work in which the expression of his creativity had fully crystallized.

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Stabat Mater Dolorosa

 

Tadeusz Zieliński wrote in his work 'Szymanowski. Liryka i ekstaza' / 'Szymanowski. Lyricism and Ecstasy':

„Stabat Mater occupies an important and special place in Szymanowski's output due to its great artistry achieved by a rather ruthless selection of means of expression. The music's huge emotional power reveals itself without any exuberant gesturing, spectacular sound arrangement, or mounting sophisticated chords. The deep, excruciating emotion seeks a direct outlet through simplicity - melody, harmony, texture, often even rhythmic pulse - and concentration. Striving for such an ideal, Szymanowski opted for archaization; work on the composition was preceded by his research into Renaissance music, especially Polish music. There is a clear trace of this in the work's harmonic language, in a fondness for triads (put together outside the classical convention), thirds alone and empty fifths, although archaic sound is mixed with contemporary, fresh combinations of sounds. An unusual economy of musical means and avoidance of flashy elements are prominent at first glance in the very modest picture of the score. However, and this needs emphasizing strongly, the external, sometimes ascetic austerity of the musical shape and means of expression combine beautifully with the internal warmth and delicate tenderness of the expressed content. It is probably this special, intriguing combination of apparent opposites - austere form and tender expression - that moves listeners easily, and means that audiences receive 'Stabat Mater' much more warmly than any other work by Szymanowski.”

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Karol Szymanowski

 

Jozef Janowski’s Polish translation of the famous Marian hymn Stabat Mater Dolorosa.


1. Stała Matka bolejąca 			(Stabat mater dolorosa)
2. I któż widział tak cierpiącą 		(Quis est homo qui non fleret)
3. O Matko Źródło Wszechmiłości 		(O, Eia, Mater, fons amoris)
4. Spraw niech płaczę z Tobą razem 		(Fac me tecum pie flere)
5. Panno słodka racz mozołem 			(Virgo virginum praeclara)
6. Chrystus niech mi będzie grodem 		(Christe, cum sit hinc exire)

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Stabat Mater Dolorosa

 

Szymanowski – Stabat Mater polish lyrics


1
Stala Matka bolejąca,
Kolo krzyża łzy lejąca,
Gdy na krzyżu wisiał Syn.
A jaj duszę potyraną
Rozpłakaną, poszarpaną
Miecz przeszywał ludzkich win.
O, jak smutna, jak podcięta
Była Matka Boża święta,
Cicha w załamaniu rąk!
O, jak drżala I truchlała,
I bolała,gdy patrzała
Na synowskich tyle mąk.
2
I któż, widząc tak cierpiącą,
Łzą nie zaćmi się gorącą,
Nie drgnie, taki czując nóż?
I kto serca nie ubroczy,
Widząc, jak do krzyża oczy
Wzbiła, z bólu drętwa już.
Za ludzkiego rodu winy
Jak katowan był jedyny,
Męki każdy niołsa dział.
I widziała, jak rodzony
Jej umierał opuszczony,
Zanim Bogu duszę dał.
3
Matko, źródło wszechmiłości,
Daj mi uczuć moc żałości,
Niechaj z Tobą dźwignę ból.
Chrystusowe ukochanie
Niech w mym sercu ogniem stanie,
Krzyża dzieje we mnie wtul.
Matko, Matko, miłosiernie
Wejrzyj. Syna Twego ciernie
W serce moje wraź jak w cel.
Rodzonego, męczonego,
Syna Twego oriarnego
Kaźń owocną ze mną dziel.
4
Spraw, niech płaczę z Tobą razem,
Krzyża zamknę się obrazem
Aż po mój ostatni dech.
Niechaj pod nim razem stoję,
Dzielę Twoje krawe znoje.
Twą boleścią zmywam grzech.
5
Panno słodka, racz, mozołem
Niech me serce z Tobą społem
Na golgocki idzie skłon.
Niech śmierć przyjmę z katów ręki,
Uczestnikiem będę męki,
Razów krwawych zbiorę plon.
Niechaj broczty ciało moje,
Krzyżem niechaj się upoję,
Niech z miłosnych żyję tchnień!
W morzu ognia zapalony,
Z Twojej ręki niech osłony
Puklerz wezmę w sądu dzień!

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Stabat Mater Dolorosa

 

ENGLISH TRANSLATION


1
Mother, bowed with dreadful grief
You must watch with slowly falling tears
Your Son dying on the Cross!
Through Your heart, pierced with sorrow,
That cruel sword must be driven
As it was foretold, oh Holy One!
Oh! How sad and afflicted
Was that Blessed Lady,
Mother of the Only Begotten!
She who saw with grief
And contemplated the unending
Anguish of Her Son!
2
Could anyone withhold their own tears
Thus beholding Christ’s dear mother
In woe unlike any other woe!
Who would not feel grief
For that kneeling Holy Mother –
Suffering as noone
else has?
For every nation’s sins
He suffered persecution,
A prey to scourgers, as she saw:
Saw her Jesus taken most foully,
Forsaken by all, languishing,
When he gave up his spirit.
3
Tender Mother, sweet fountain of love,
Quickly soften my hard heart,
Make me share Your pain:
Kindle in me such burning zeal,
Let such rich love flow to Jesus
That I may be favoured.
Holy Mother, I implore You,
Crucify this heart before you –
It is truly guilty!
Hatred, mockery and scorn,
Accusation, blindness, thirst,
Give all these to me.
4
Under Your care, weeping, watching,
Unsleeping beneath the Cross
May I live and mourn for His sake:
Kneeling with You close to Jesus,
Feeling all Your pain with You,
Oh! Grant me this, my prayer.
5
Immaculate maid most excellent,
Peerless, dwelling in the highest heaven,
Make me truly mourn with You;
May my sighs help me bear his death,
Ever reviving in me
The anguish he suffered on my behalf:
Bearing the same scars as His,
Enflamed by the Cross,
Elated to ecstatic love:
Inspired and affected thus,
Virgin, let me be protected
When I am called in my turn.

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Szymanowski - Stabat Mater, Proms 1995

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Sun, 13 Mar 2016 17:07:57 +0000
Michael Praetorius' In Dulci Jubilo http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/18952-michael-praetorius-in-dulci-jubilo.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/18952-michael-praetorius-in-dulci-jubilo.html Michael Praetorius' In Dulci Jubilo

One night in 1328, the German mystic and Dominican monk Heinrich Suso (or Seuse) had a vision in which he joined angels dancing as the angels sang to him Nun singet und seid froh or In Dulci Jubilo. In Suso's biography (or perhaps autobiography), it was written:

“ Now this same angel came up to the Servant [Suso] brightly, and said that God had sent him down to him, to bring him heavenly joys amid his sufferings; adding that he must cast off all his sorrows from his mind and bear them company, and that he must also dance with them in heavenly fashion. Then they drew the Servant by the hand into the dance, and the youth began a joyous song about the infant Jesus, which runs thus: 'In dulci jubilo', etc.”

In Dulci Jubilo

“In Dulci Jubilo” is among the oldest and most famous of the "macaronic" songs, one which combines Latin and a vernacular language such as English or German. (Macaronic refers to text using a mixture of languages, particularly bilingual puns or situations in which the languages are otherwise used in the same context.)

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Heinrich Suso

 

The tune first appears in Codex 1305, a manuscript in Leipzig University Library dating from c.1400, some version of the song itself may have existed prior to 1328. It remained well-known and often used by Catholics and Protestants alike throughout the centuries.

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In Dulci Jubilo (Leipzig 1582)

 

The 1533 Lutheran hymnal by Joseph Klug, „Geistliche Lieder”included it with three verses. It also occurred in Michael Vehe's “Gesangbuch,” which was published at Leipzig in 1537. In 1545, another verse was added between the last two: "O Patris caritas!" was likely written by Martin Luther and included in Valentin Babst's “Geistliche Lieder” (Leipzig). There have been a number of translations of the Latin/German poem into English. The most popular that keeps the macaronic structure is Robert Lucas de Pearsall's 1837 translation, which retains the Latin phrases and substitutes English for German.

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Geistliche Lieder (1708)

 

Pearsall noted in January, 1837:

“ The original melody employed, as a Cantus firmus, in the following composition, is to be found in an old German book published in the year 1570 -- which, from its title and contents, appears to have contained the ritual of the Protestant Congregations of Zweibrueken and Neuberg. Even there it is called "a very ancient song (uraltes Lied) for Christmas-eve;" so that there can be no doubt that it is one of those old Roman Catholic melodies that Luther, on account of their beauty, retained in the Protestant Service. It was formerly sung in the processions that took place on Christmas-eve, and is so still in those remote parts of Germany where people yet retain old customs.”

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Robert Lucas de Pearsall

 

Praetorius (c1571-1621) was the first great musical commentator and elaborator of the Lutheran chorale. Prolific he certainly was, with over 1,000 chorale settings (quite apart from a mass of other work in compositional and theoretical fields), but his level of invention is remarkable too. One of its great merits is that in choosing chorales from the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany seasons the tunes are likely to be familiar to many listeners.

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Michael Praetorius

 

Michael Praetorius' “In dulci jubilo” is a gloriously expansive amalgam of sound and text. Composed near the end of Praetorius' life as part of his “Polyhymnia Caduceatrix et Panegyrica” (Polychoral Hymns of Peace and Festivals) of 1619, this setting of the well-known tune In dulci jubilo was actually his 11th, and most ornate. Praetorius sets the stanzas of this utilizing a highly flexible ensemble of three to five choruses and brass ensemble, continuo (organ), and tympani.

 

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Polyhymnia Caduceatrix et Panegyrica

 

Twelve, 16, or 20 voices are possible: one or two SATB choruses, an ATBB chorus, and a SATB chorus of soloists that may be doubled at the octave. A brass chorus adds to the available color palette. In this work, indeed, throughout the Polyhymnia, Praetorius made excellent use of his resources to create aural contrasts. Solo chorus phrases are answered by the power of the tutti forces, as at the opening of the piece. Various solo choruses pass the melody from one to another, making use of spatial effects, heard, for example, at the beginning of the second verse. Polyphony and homophony, voices and instruments, all vie for superiority in a vast collage of sound.

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In dulci jubilo

 

Praetorius' In dulci jubilo is remarkable for its composer's use of contrasting sound, virtuosic singing, and appropriate instrumental writing. As a polychoral work it compares well with anything by his contemporary Schütz or even the Gabrielis of Venice.

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In dulci jubilo

 

Latin and German text


1.
In dulci jubilo,
Nun singet und seid froh!
Unsers Herzens Wonne liegt
in praesepio,
Und leuchtet als die Sonne
Matris in gremio,
Alpha es et O!
2.
O Jesu parvule
Nach dir ist mir so weh!
Tröst' mir mein Gemüte
O puer optime
Durch alle deine Güte
O princeps gloriae.
Trahe me post te!
3.
O Patris caritas!
O Nati lenitas!
Wir wären all verloren (verdorben)
Per nostra crimina
So hat er uns erworben
Coelorum gaudia
Eia, wären wir da!
4.
Ubi sunt gaudia
Nirgend mehr denn da!
Da die Engel singen
Nova cantica,
Und die Schellen klingen
In regis curia.
Eia, wären wir da!

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Michael Praetorius

 

English text (Translation by Robert Lucas Pearsall)


1.
In dulci jubilo    [In quiet joy]
Let us our homage show
Our heart’s joy reclineth
In praesepio     [in a manger]
And like a bright star shineth
Matris in gremio    [in the mother's lap]
Alpha es et O.     [Thou art Alpha & Omega]
2.
O Jesu parvule    [O tiny Jesus]
I yearn for thee alway
Listen to my ditty
O puer optima     [O best of boys]
Have pity on me, pity
O princeps gloriae,    [Prince of glory]
Trahe me post te.    [draw me unto thee]
3.
O patris caritas    [O father's caring]
O nati lenitas    [O newborn's mildness]
Deeply were we stained
Per nostra crimina    [by our crimes] 
But thou hast for us gained
Coelorum gaudia    [heavenly joy]
O that we were there.
4.
Ubi sunt gaudia     [where be joys]
If that they be not there
There are angels singing
Nova cantina     [new songs]
There the bells are ringing
In regis curia    [at the king's court]
O that we were there.

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In dulci jubilo

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Mon, 21 Dec 2015 09:46:21 +0000
Douce Dame Jolie (Lady Fair and Sweet) http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/18781-douce-dame-jolie-lady-fair-and-sweet.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/18781-douce-dame-jolie-lady-fair-and-sweet.html Douce Dame Jolie (Lady Fair and Sweet)

One of the most famous musical pieces of the Middle Ages, "Douce Dame Jolie" sometimes referred to only as 'Douce Dame', is a song from the 14th century, by the French composer Guillaume de Machaut. It is an example of the genre known as the virelai, one of the fixed formes of the fourteenth century (the others were the ballade and the rondeau). This is a relatively early work of Machaut's, dating from the time of his patronage by John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia.

Douce Dame Jolie

The word "Virelai" comes from old French and means ”the beauty of music, dance and poetry”. It probably did not originate in France, and it takes on several different forms even within the French tradition. Similar forms can be found in most of the literatures of medieval and early Renaissance Europe. The standard virelai form has three stanzas, each preceded and followed by a refrain. Each stanza is in three sections, the first two having the same rhyme scheme and the last having the rhyme scheme of the refrain.

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Guillaume de Machaut

 

Most scholars believe Guillaume de Machaut was born c. 1300 in or near Reims, perhaps in the town of Machault or the nearby village of Cauroy de les Machaut. Nothing is known for certain about his family or social status, except that he had a brother, Jean, who like him became a canon of Reims cathedral. He probably received his early education in Reims, and he may have received a master of arts degree from the University of Paris, but the evidence for that degree is weak.

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Douce Dame Jolie

 

By about 1323 he had entered the service of John, king of Bohemia, working first as a clerk but eventually rising to the rank of secretary. With the king he apparently traveled extensively. Through the influence of John of Bohemia he received several church benefices, culminating in a canonicate at Reims cathedral.

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King John of Bohemia

 

Whether he settled in Reims around 1340 or decades later, Machaut owned a house in that city by 1372. The house no longer stands, but its location near the cathedral has been identified, and it appears to have been fairly large, with a courtyard and garden. This suggests that he and his brother, who shared the house, had some means. Machaut died around 1377: we don’t have the exact date, but his canonry was given to another man on 9 November 1377, so it must have been earlier that year.

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Reims Cathedral

 

Machaut seems a poet and a musician in equal measure, one of only a handful of figures to show equal mastery of these arts. He is frequently portrayed today as an avant garde composer, especially because of his position with regard to the early Ars Nova (a new, more detailed rhythmic notation), but one must also emphasize the masterful continuity with which he employed established forms. While using the same basic formats, he made subtle changes to meter and rhyme scheme, allowing for more personal touches and a more dramatic presentation.

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Guillaume de Machaut

 

The theme of courtly love dominates his writing, becoming heavily symbolized in the guises of such characters as Fortune & Love, and the personal dramas in which they act. Machaut's poetic output, and by extension the subset of texts he chose to set to music, is both personal and ritualized, lending it a timeless quality. Some of the love themes date to Ovid and beyond, from whom they had been elaborated first by the troubadours of Provence and then by the northern trouvères, and so it is truly a classical tradition to which Machaut belongs.

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Douce Dame Jolie

 

The poetry follows courtly themes of his time, and the image of Douce Dame Jolie is a wonderful, easily approachable example. For our age, this will seem a simple love song. But to Machaut’s contemporaries it would have been understood to have the carefully constructed double sense of courtly love, a reference simultaneously to an affair of the heart and the adoration of the Virgin Mary. “All the songs that I composed I did in praise of her,” Machaut writes.

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Guillaume de Machaut

 

Machaut marks the end of the lineage of the trouvères, and with it the development of the monophonic art song in the West. What Machaut achieved so eloquently is an idiomatic and natural combination of words with music, forcefully compelling in its lyrical grace and rhythmic sophistication. His songs are immediately enjoyable, because he was able to shape the smallest melodic nuances as well as to conceive forms on a larger scale.

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Douce Dame Jolie

 

Machaut – Douce Dame Jolie lyrics


Douce dame jolie,
Pour dieu ne pensés mie
Que nulle ait signorie
Seur moy fors vous seulement.

Qu’adès sans tricherie
Chierie
Vous ay et humblement
Tous les jours de ma vi
Servie
Sans villain pensement.
Helas! et je mendie
D’esperance et d’aïe;
Dont ma joie est fenie,
Se pité ne vous en prent.

Douce dame jolie…

Mais vo douce maistrie
Maistrie
Mon cuer si durement
Qu’elle le contralie
Et lie
En amour tellement
Qu’il n’a de riens envie
Fors d’estre en vo baillie;
Et se ne li ottrie
Vos cuers nul aligement.

Douce dame jolie…

Et quant ma maladie
Garie
Ne sera nullement
Sans vous, douce anemie,
Qui lie
Estes de mon tourment,
A jointes mains deprie
Vo cuer, puis qu’il m’oublie,
Que temprement m’ocie,
Car trop langui longuement.

Douce dame jolie…

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Douce Dame Jolie

 

English translation


Lady fair and sweet
for god’s sake do not think
that any has rule
over my heart, but you alone.

For always, without treachery
Cherished one
I have you, and humbly
All the days of my life
Served
Without base thoughts.
Alas, I am left begging
For hope and relief;
For my joy is at its end
Without your compassion.

Lady fair and sweet….

But your sweet mastery
Masters
My heart so harshly,
Tormenting it
And binding
In unbearable love,
Desires no more
but to be in your power.
And still, your own heart
renders it no relief.

Lady fair and sweet….

And since my malady
Will not
Be annulled
Without you, Sweet Enemy,
Who takes
Delight of my torment
With clasped hands I beseech
Your heart, that forgets me,
That it mercifully kill me
For too long have I languished.

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Reims Cathedral

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Thu, 19 Nov 2015 11:41:34 +0000
Shostakovich - Symphony No. 5 in D Minor http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/18485-shostakovich-symphony-no-5-in-d-minor.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/18485-shostakovich-symphony-no-5-in-d-minor.html Shostakovich - Symphony No. 5 in D Minor

On the eve of Jan. 26, 1936 Joseph Stalin and his entourage attended a performance of Shostakovich's “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” but they left the theater before the last act. The opera had been playing to acclaim for two years in Moscow and its 29-year-old composer was hailed a Russian musical genius, beloved by his fellow countrymen.

Shostakovich - Symphony No. 5 in D Minor

A few days after Stalin's ominous attendance, a vociferous and damning editorial called "Muddle Instead of Music" appeared anonymously in “Pravda,” the official Communist Party newspaper. The editorial denounced Shostakovich as a "formalist" and petty bourgeois composer whose "intentionally unharmonious muddled flow of sounds" was a danger to the Soviet people.

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Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk - premiere, poster 1934

 

The next morning the state newspaper “Pravda” condemned the work, saying it corrupted the Soviet spirit. The opera disappeared overnight and every publication and political organization in the country heaped personal attacks on its composer. This was no small matter; most who drew the dictator's wrath soon died in a labor camp. Shostakovich lived in fear, sleeping in the stairwell outside his apartment to spare his family the experience of his imminent arrest.

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Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk - Stockholm 1935

 

Shostakovich was luckier, perhaps because the young composer had already achieved some international recognition, but the attacks in “Pravda” turned him into a pariah who began keeping a packed suitcase beside his bed in case he were arrested in the night.

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Dmitri Shostakovich

 

Shostakovich's next misstep came with the Fourth Symphony, which he had been composing in his mind for some time. Despite the risk of associating with an “enemy of the people,” Evegeny Mravinsky (conductor) and the Leningrad Philharmonic agreed to premiere it, but the rehearsals went badly, and it became clear to Shostakovich that a performance of such a forward-looking work would be dangerous to his life. In December of 1936, he announced that it was a failure and withdrew it, ostensibly to work on the finale. The Fourth was lost during the war, and it was only in 1961 that it was reconstructed and premiered exactly as written.

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Dmitri Shostakovich

 

In such an atmosphere, and with a wife and two young children to worry about, it was only natural that Shostakovich would pull his head back into his shell and try to please the authorities. And so he did, at least on the surface: the Fifth Symphony's subtitle is ``A Soviet Artist's Practical Creative Reply to Just Criticism.''

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Dmitri Shostakovich

 

Meanwhile, Stalin and his officials awaited the debut of his Fifth Symphony to see if a chastened Shostakovich had "reformed" and written music according to their dictates.

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Joseph Stalin and his entourage

 

Against this backdrop of pervasive political terror and personal attack, Shostakovich had to find a way to write his Symphony No. 5, scheduled to premiere Nov. 21, 1937. Fearing arrest, torture and even death, the composer, with sly brilliance and a remarkable spirit, found a way to compose music which appeared to adhere to Stalin's directives while subtly weaving a deeper and sardonic musical truth, bearing testimony to the despair and terror that reigned over the nation.

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Evgeny Mravinsky & Dmitri Shostakovich

 

Shostakovich slimmed down his musical style considerably from the superabundance of the Fourth, with less orchestral color and a smaller breadth of scope. With this scaling down also came a refinement of his pithiness and a deepening of ambiguity. More importantly, Shostakovich found a language through which he could speak with power and eloquence over the following three decades. It is the power to weld an audience together, uplifting and moving them in a single emotion-controlled wave, sweeping aside all intellectual reservations.

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Dmitri Shostakovich

 

The Symphony quotes Shostakovich's song “Vozrozhdenije” (Op. 46 No. 1, composed in 1936–37), most notably in the last movement, which uses a poem by Alexander Pushkin that deals with the matter of rebirth. This song is by some considered to be a vital clue to the interpretation and understanding of the whole symphony. In addition, commentators have noted that Shostakovich incorporated a motif from the "Habanera" from Bizet's Carmen into the first movement, a reference to Shostakovich's earlier infatuation with a woman who refused his offer of marriage, and subsequently moved to Spain and married a man named Roman Carmen.

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Shostakovich - Symphony No.5, cond. Mravinsky

 

The first movement begins with a cry of despair, a tragic lament that goes on for some time before suddenly being interrupted by a goose-stepping march led by a two-note tympani theme, a motive that musicologist Ian MacDonald calls the “Stalin theme.”' The third movement is one of the most despairing pieces of music ever written, a memorial for Mother Russia and all those sent to the labor camps. And of the finale, Shostakovich wrote in his memoirs (smuggled out of Russia after the composer's death):

“ What exultation could there be? I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat... It's as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying ``Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,'' and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, ``Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.'' What kind of apotheosis is that? You have to be a complete oaf not to hear that.”

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Dmitri Shostakovich

 

Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 reflected his situation as an artist who would be judged by politics as much as by talent. Although some audiences heard condemnation of the government through inflections of despair, Stalin found the politics of the music acceptable and Shostakovich won a reprieve – at least for another decade.

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Shostakovich - Symphony No.5, score (beginning)

 

The Fifth was hugely successful. The government was pleased that the rebel had knuckled under, while the Russian in the street saw the truth behind the facade. Western listeners, generally unaware of what was going on behind Stalin's mask, took the work at face value, yet were still overwhelmed by its grandeur and beauty. The symphony has become Shostakovich's most popular work, and the relatively recent revelation of its true meaning can only enhance our enjoyment of this testament to one man's struggle to express his people's anguish under a brutal tyrant.

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Dmitri Shostakovich

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Wed, 23 Sep 2015 16:43:23 +0000
Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/18006-joseph-haydns-trumpet-concerto.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/18006-joseph-haydns-trumpet-concerto.html Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto

Joseph Haydn wrote his "Trumpet Concerto in E flat major" in 1796. It is a piece in three movements, dedicated it to his friend Anton Weidinger, who had developed an improved trumpet which could play chromatically throughout all its range. With natural brass instruments being the norm, this represented an important advance. Weidinger's invention was not succesful, though, and natural trumpets were used until the 1830s, when valve instruments were first produced.

Haydn – Trumpet Concerto

Anton Weidinger was a member of the Vienna Court Orchestra. Weidinger had been experimenting since 1793 on a keyed trumpet, drilling four to six holes that were covered by key-operated pads, like those still found on today’s woodwind instruments. The design was eclipsed in the nineteenth century by a system of valves, but it was a worthy effort to free the trumpet from its limited range, and it generated two treasures of the trumpet’s concerto repertoire, this work by Haydn and another concerto that Weidinger commissioned from Johann Nepomuk Hummel.

 

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Anton Weidinger

 

Joseph Haydn is rightfully known as the “father of the symphony”—his 104 symphonies span the entire early history of the form. However, Haydn also wrote concertos. He composed over 40 concertos, many of which are now lost, mostly for members of the fine court orchestra of his employers, the Esterházy family. Several of these have remained in the repertory, most notably his concertos for horn, oboe and trumpet.

 

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Joseph Haydn

 

Of these, his trumpet concerto, his very last essay in the form, is the most famous, and among Haydn’s most popular works. It is familiar in part because it is played often—it is one of the monuments of the solo trumpet repertoire. But it is also a truly first-rate piece of music, the first to contain truly free melodic writing for the instrument.

 

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Keyed Bugle

 

By this time Haydn was largely an independent and very wealthy artist, having just returned from his second fabulously successful tour to London. Instead, the "Trumpet Concerto" seems to have been a genuine experiment and, perhaps, an act of friendship. The genial Haydn certainly knew Weidinger in Vienna, and there is some evidence that Haydn stood as best man at Weidinger’s wedding in 1792. Weidinger later toured Europe playing the concerto.

 

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Alison Balsom plays Haydn's Trumpet Concerto

 

Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major is composed in three movements (typical of a Classical period concerto), they are marked as followed:

    I. Allegro (sonata)
    II. Andante (sonata)
    III. Allegro (rondo)
 

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Markus Würsch plays Trumpet Concerto (keyed trumpet)

 

Haydn uses a well-established concerto form in this experimental work. The opening movement (Allegro) begins with a brief tutti section that lays out the main themes. The first trumpet entrance must have been a shock to the first audience: there is none of the usual brilliant fanfare-style writing of most 18th-century concertos, but a stepwise opening theme in the trumpet’s warm low register. True to form, there is a brief development, with some surprising turns to the minor, and near the end, Haydn leaves space for an improvised cadenza. In the Andante Haydn exploits the innovative capability of Weidinger’s trumpet to play chromatically (by half-steps) quite low in the instrument’s range. The movement is based on a pair of equally lyrical, songlike themes. The third movement (Allegro) is a rondo, whose main theme has a fanfare-style character that must have sounded a bit more familiar to Viennese audiences of the day. But there are also plenty of opportunities to play lines impossible on a natural trumpet and, other trills and ornamental passages that testify to Weidinger’s virtuosity.

 

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Haydn - Trumpet Concerto, 1804 Edition

 

Haydn was not a virtuoso himself, unlike his friend Mozart, or perhaps he did not have the character of a natural showman. Whatever the case may be, the Trumpet Concerto is highly virtuosic in style, and is Haydn’s last and one of his most popular orchestral works.

 

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Joseph Haydn

 

As it happens, the two first concertos written for the new trumpet have become the greatest ever written in the genre. Never before and rarely since has the trumpet been so eloquent and (gasp!) beautiful. Remember that prior to this, the trumpet was relegated to marches and fanfares.

 

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Maurice Andre plays Haydn's Trumpet Concerto

 

Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto would remain a jewel in the solo trumpet repertoire for centuries to come.

 

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Keyed Trumpets (Klappentrompeten)

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Sun, 28 Jun 2015 20:18:33 +0000