Jaren Hinckley

Composer / Clarinetist

I’m Listening to Everything Composed by…

I’m Listening to Everything by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

March 14, 2016

(1934-2016)

 

When I was an undergraduate student, I was fortunate enough to be asked to play clarinet in a remarkable avant-garde chamber composition called “Eight Songs for a Mad King” by Scottish composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. It was one of the highlights of my undergraduate life.  We performed it a number of times for a standing-room only audience.  Truly an amazing composition by an amazing composer.  I always felt a kinship to him for a few reasons—1-music, and 2-he lived and worked in the far north of Scotland.  From February of 1988 to January of 1990, I lived in Scotland. I grew to love that country and even to this day, if I hear “O Flower of Scotland” sung with feeling or “Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes, I get a bit emotional.  For five months, I lived in the Caithness region of Scotland (on a small farm named “Sibmister” located between the small cities of Thurso and Wick).  I have a particular fondness for the northern regions of Scotland.  Sir Peter Maxwell Davies co-founded a yearly music festival—the St. Magnus Festival—in the Orkney Islands where he lived (the Orkney Islands are just a short ferry ride away from Thurso). It was always a dream of mine to perform at that festival. Perhaps it will still happen someday, but one part of that dream was to meet Sir Max. But today that dream has been altered…

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies died today.  Leukemia.  I went to teach my Music 101 (Music History for non-majors) shortly after I found out about this.  I put this picture of him up on the screen

Sir-Peter-Maxwell-Davies--001 (1)

and told the students why his picture was up there (yes, I got choked up—could hardly talk) and played the last few minutes of his simple, beautiful, heartbreaking piano piece “Farewell to Stromness.”

 

So for this blog entry, I’m not going to say much except, please listen to his (perhaps) most accessible piece and one that will forevermore make me weep as I listen.

 

I’m Listening to Everything Composed by Olivier Messiaen

March 7, 2016

(1908 – 1992)

 

This is a photo I took recently of Mt. Messiaen in Parowan, Utah.

Snapshot 1 (3-7-2016 2-24 PM)

It is the only mountain (that I know of) in the entire world named after a composer.  Why would there be a mountain in the middle of Utah named after an avant-garde French composer?  In 1971, Alice Tully, an opera singer and wealthy patron of the arts (there’s a concert hall at Lincoln Center in New York named after her) commissioned a work by French composer Olivier Messiaen to be premiered as part of the United States of America bicentennial celebration.  The only stipulation about the commission was that it be “about” the United States in some way.  Messiaen researched the United States in advance to get inspiration for his work and was particularly taken with southern Utah, particularly Bryce Canyon. He and wife, pianist Yvonne Loriod, traveled to Utah in 1973 to explore the amazing views and hikes found in Utah’s state and national parks.  The resulting composition refers specifically to Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and Cedar Breaks.  A few years later, the city of Parowan decided to honor Messiaen’s visit and composition by naming a mountain after him.  If you want to visit Mt. Messiaen, I have included detailed instructions in a YouTube video! Check it out!

 

Before telling you more about the piece I’ve chosen to look at, you need to understand one of Messiaen’s main compositional elements.  Messiaen was fascinated by bird calls and incorporated them into most of his compositions in some way.  Check out this delightful YouTube video of Messiaen himself explaining and imitating some birdcalls followed by his wife playing his interpretation of them on the piano.  Truly delightful.

 

TITLE: Des Canyons aux Étoiles for Piano, Horn, and Orchestra

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE PIECE: The work is divided into three sections with twelve movements total.

Fair warning.  I don’t think this piece is to everyone’s taste, but I encourage you to give it a chance.  Keep in mind his fascination with birdsong and the way he translates that to the piano and other orchestral instruments.  Read on and you’ll discover more.

Part ONE:

  1. Le désert (“The desert”)

The 1st movement sets the stage for the journey through southern Utah with a solo horn followed by various birdcalls as reproduced by the orchestra and the solo piano.  You can watch a performance of the first movement here:

 

 

There is also the sound of the wind (provided by percussion instrument) at 1:48 in the video.

 

  1. Les orioles (“The orioles”)

The 2nd movement, unsurprisingly, is about birds.

 

3. Ce qui est écrit sur les étoiles (“What is written in the stars”)

The 3rd movement demonstrates another fascination of Messiaen, namely religion.  Messiaen was a devout Catholic his entire life.  This movement is inspired by a reference from the book of Daniel in the Old Testament

The title of this movement also reminds me of a quote from Messiaen, recalling what he and his wife felt at they hiked out of the depths of Bryce Canyon:  “I had to raise myself from the depth of the canyons to the beauty of the stars. Having left the canyons to climb to the stars, I had only to keep going in the same direction to raise myself up to God.”

 

  1. Le cossyphe d’Heuglin (“The white-browed robin-chat”)

This movement is for piano alone.  If you listen to just the first 30 seconds, you’ll hear nothing but Messiaen’s bird-call imitations.

 

  1. Cedar Breaks et le don de crainte (“Cedar Breaks and the gift of awe”)

If you skip to the :30 second spot in this video you’ll hear the trumpet mouthpiece used in an unusual way.  But then at 1:02 you’ll hear the awe of the beauty of nature (particularly the awe of looking down into Cedar Breaks).

 

Part TWO

  1. Appel interstellaire (“Interstellar call”)

Messiaen said that this movement was inspired by two scripture references:

 

Psalm 147: 3-4 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.

 

and

 

Job 16:18 – O earth, cover not my blood, and let my cry have no place.

 

This is a movement for unaccompanied horn and has become a standard solo recital piece for horn players all over the world.  Here’s an artsy video I found on YouTube featuring this movement:

 

  1. Bryce Canyon et les rochers rouge-orange (“Bryce Canyon and the red-orange rocks”)

And here’s a YouTube video of this movement.

 

See if you can imagine the red-orange rocks of Bryce Canyon conveyed through this music.  Keep in mind, Messiaen had a condition that one out of 10 people have on some level or other, called synaesthesia.  Here’s the rather confusing definition from Merriam-Webster: “a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of color) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated.”  In other words, when one sense is occurring, you experience another—you smell sound or you taste images or in Messiaen’s case, when he heard sound, he saw or sensed or felt a specific color that was attached to the sound.  This affected the way he composed as well.  Some of the dissonance that you hear in this movement could very well be the way he was seeing the colors of Bryce Canyon.

 

Part THREE:

  1. Les ressucités et le chant de l’étoile Aldebaran (“The resurrected and the song of the star Aldebaran”)

 

  1. Le moqueur polyglotte (“The mockingbird”)

 

  1. La grive des bois (“The wood thrush”)

 

  1. Omao, leiothrix, elepaio, shama (“Omao, leiothrix, ʻelepaio, shama”)

 

  1. Zion Park et la cité céleste (“Zion Park and the celestial city”)

In this final movement, Messiaen was inspired by Zion National Park.

 

HIGHLIGHT:

For me, the highlight is the seventh movement, the one about Bryce Canyon (scroll up a ways).  Maybe it is because we visited it so recently, or perhaps it’s because it starts out with Messiaen’s treatment of the bird calls in the piano and orchestra at the beginning of the movement.  Or perhaps it is because after all the dissonance, Messiaen inserts triumphant, quite tonal chords that occur near the one-minute mark.  In fact, if you listen starting 1:00 you’ll hear a tonal chord followed by a series of dissonant chords that resolve at 1:18 in a really pleasing way.

 

WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY MESSIAEN?:  A lot, but I’ll keep working at it.

I’m Listening to Everything Composed by Elizabeth Poston

December 10, 2015

(1905-1987)

 

Since it is December and Christmas is nearing, I thought I’d do a post on one of my favorite Christmas carols.  I was introduced to this piece by a good friend of mine, who was then the director of our church congregation’s choir.  It was tricky for a volunteer choir, filled with amateur singers (including myself) to navigate some of the close harmonies of this piece but we managed and I’ve loved it ever since.

 

TITLE:  Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE PIECE:  The text was written in the 1700’s by an unknown poet.  The comparison of Christ to an apple tree is not the most common analogy we hear, but may come from the Song of Solomon.  In any event, it is a comparison that I now love.  Here is the text:

 

The tree of life my soul hath seen,

Laden with fruit and always green:

The tree of life my soul hath seen,

Laden with fruit and always green:

The trees of nature fruitless be

Compared with Christ the apple tree.

 

His beauty doth all things excel:

By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,

His beauty doth all things excel:

By faith I know, but ne’er can tell

The glory which I now can see

In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

 

For happiness I long have sought,

And pleasure dearly I have bought:

For happiness I long have sought,

And pleasure dearly I have bought:

I missed of all; but now I see

’Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

 

I’m weary with my former toil,

Here I will sit and rest a while:

I’m weary with my former toil,

Here I will sit and rest a while:

Under the shadow I will be,

Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

 

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,

It keeps my dying faith alive:

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,

It keeps my dying faith alive:

Which makes my soul in haste to be

With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

 

And here is a link to a YouTube video of a very talented choir performing it:

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm3fZDZxiko

 

 

HIGHLIGHT:   It’s such a short piece, I guess the highlight for me is the effectiveness of beginning and ending the piece with monophonic texture.  So simple, so pure, and it really bookends the amazing close harmonies of the middle verses.

 

WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY POSTON?:  I don’t know.  The problem with lesser-known composers is that there isn’t a lot of information about them on the various music databases I use in my research.  I know she composed music for television, radio and film productions, but finding recordings may be difficult.  In any event, I think she’s worth seeking out.

 

I’m Listening to Everything Composed by Mahler

November 19, 2015

(1860-1911)

 

When anyone asks me who my favorite composer is, I can never answer definitively, because it is constantly changing and shifting as I learn and listen and discover more.  BUT, fairly consistently for over ten years now, Gustav Mahler is always in my top three.

 

For most of his career, Mahler was a conductor at various opera houses, including the Staatsoper in Vienna, Austria.  As a conductor, there are many demands on one’s time.  Mahler was constantly studying scores and prepping for each new production.  But he still wanted to compose.  Mahler realized that staying in town during breaks in the music season and trying to compose was impossible because people would constantly call upon him for some reason or other.  To find the time to compose, he simply left town each summer to avoid any distractions.  He and his sister Justi went to a place called Steinbach-am-Attersee in Austria.  They stayed in a nice hotel where he could work without distraction.

 

This hotel was near a beautiful Alpine lake called Attersee. In fact, the main picture here on my website is me sitting on a pier at this very lake. It remains one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited. Mahler decided that the hotel wasn’t quite without distractions, so he had a composition hut built right next to the lake.

 

Here’s me with the key to the hut.Jane's Camera 2-week excursion Italy and Salzburg part two 401

 

And the directions to the hut:

Jane's Camera 2-week excursion Italy and Salzburg part two 402

 

 

 

 

 

 

And me standing in the doorway of the hut:

Jane's Camera 2-week excursion Italy and Salzburg part two 417

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And my cute youngest daughter running around the hut.

 

 

Janny and hut

This is where he composed his 2nd and 3rd symphonies.

In fact, the background image of this website is me sitting on a pier in the lake near the composition hut.

TITLE:  Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection”

DESCRIPTION OF THE PIECE:

 

Here’s  a brief run-down on what this symphony is “about,” roughly in the words of Mahler himself.

 

1st mvt:  “What is life and what is death? Will we live on eternally? Is it all an empty dream or do our life and death have a meaning?”

2nd mvt: A blissful moment in the dear departed’s life and a sad recollection of his youth and lost innocence.

3rd mvt:  the bustle and turmoil of daily life—life goes on even if you are troubled

Here’s a clip.  Watch from where it starts for just a few minutes and you’ll get the idea.

4th mvt:  An angel shows up (in the form of a mezzo-soprano) and sings “you came from God and you will return to God!”

5th mvt: The actual Resurrection.  The voice of God calling us forth from our graves. After a lot of turmoil in the orchestra, in Mahler’s words:  In the eerie silence that follows, we can just barely make out a distant nightingale, a last tremulous echo of earthly life. The gentle sound of a chorus of saints and heavenly hosts is then heard: “Rise again!” Then God in all His glory comes into sight. A wondrous light strikes us to the heart. A feeling of overwhelming love fills us with blissful knowledge and illuminates our existence.”

HIGHLIGHT:  For me, the highlight of this symphony is undoubtedly the 5th mvt.  Just take a listen and read the subtitles and I dare you not to get chills and/or weepy.

Here’s a six or seven minute clip that will change your life (I hope): (It should start right at 1:26:00 and you should pretty much watch it until the end).

Of his first two symphonies (Symphony #1 was discussed in an earlier blog post), Mahler said: My whole life is contained in them:  I have set down in them my experience and suffering…to anyone who knows how to listen, my whole life will become clear, for my creative works and my existence are so closely interwoven that, if my life flowed as peacefully as a stream through a meadow, I believe I would no longer be able to compose anything.

Personally, I think you should go back to the YouTube clips I provided and watch from 00:00 to the end.  But that’s just my opinion…

WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY MAHLER?:  Quite a lot.  But I’ll do it, because I just love Mahler so much!

I’m Listening to Everything by Gabriel Fauré

November 11, 2014

(1845-1924)

 

TITLE: Pavane, Op. 50

 

I chose the subject for this post for a couple of reasons—one, it’s simply a lovely piece that is emotionally expressive; and, two, it’s an ear bug.  For those of you who may not know what I mean by “ear bug,” I will happily explain.  An ear bug is different from an ear worm.  An ear worm is a melody that you cannot get out of your head.  I invented the term “ear bug” to refer to music that SOUNDS like another piece of music, but there’s likely no real connection between the two pieces (or, in other words, I don’t believe the latter composer copied the former—it’s just happenstance).  Today’s ear bug is the theme music to the Disney Channel animated kids show “Gravity Falls.”  My kids have been obsessed with this show lately so I hear the theme song a lot.  Every time the main melody begins I can’t help thinking of Faure’s Pavane.  Again, I am not making the assertion that the composer of “Gravity Falls” was copying Fauré.  In fact, I’m positive it’s merely coincidence.  Here are some silly examples of how I hear it every time my kids watch the show.  Here’s the beginning of the theme song:

And here’s the part that is the ear bug (repeated four times, so that it really gets stuck in your head!):

Here’s the opening of Faure’s pavane, performed by orchestra (first example is a slow tempo performance, and the second example is a faster tempo):

And here’s a mash-up of “Gravity Falls” and Faure’s “Pavane.”

You’re welcome!

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE PIECE:

Fauré’s Pavane is slow, beautiful, and emotional.  Although Faure originally composed the piece for solo piano, it is much more famous for his orchestrated version. Here’s a link to a Youtube video of an orchestral performance:

 

 

If you search for it on Wikipedia you will see how frequently it has been co-opted by pop culture.  It’s really popular!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavane_(Faur%C3%A9)

 

 

HIGHLIGHT:

 

For me, the highlight is not necessarily the beautiful main melody that repeats many times throughout the piece, but is actually when that melody has harmony added to it.  It heightens the emotion of the melody and pulls the listener into the beauty of it.  And because this piece is so popular, it has been arranged and transcribed for other instrument combinations.  Here are a few brief examples:

First, the original version, for solo piano:

Then an arrangement for cello:

And an arrangement for viola:

And an arrangement for oboe (I am particularly fond of the oboe!):

 

WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY FAURE?:

A huge amount of music, but I’ll get to it!

I’m Listening to Everything Composed by Felix Mendelssohn

February 12, 2014

(1809-1847)

 

For faithful readers of this blog, you may recall that I focused on a piece by Mendelssohn this past December. Here we are in February with another piece by Mendelssohn!  The reason I chose to focus on Mendelssohn is because his birthday is this month (Feb. 3, 1809).  Happy 205th birthday, Felix! For today’s piece, I’m focusing on one of my absolute favorites by Mendelssohn.

 

TITLE:  The Hebrides Overture “Fingal’s Cave,” op. 26

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE PIECE:  This piece is what is known as a “concert overture”—a single-movement orchestral piece of program music.  The program of this piece is based on Mendelssohn’s own visit to the Isle of Staffa (off the west coast of Scotland). Staffa is part of a group of islands known collectively as the Hebrides (pronounced Heb’-ruh-deez) made of unusual geometric rock columns formed by volcanic activity. To get to the island, you need to charter a boat during good weather.  Because of the unusual make-up of the island there is no gentle beach on which to leave the boat.  You have to take the boat up close to the rock columns (sticking out of the water) and climb out directly onto the rocks.  If the weather is bad, the water would be too choppy and would crash the boat into the rocks.  On the island there is a large cave which, due to the unusual rock formations, has an unearthly quality to it. The music effortlessly conjures images of the ocean, the rise and fall of the boat as it approaches the island, and the unusual beauty of the island itself.

 

Here’s a YouTube video of the entire work:

 

 

And here’s a YouTube video of the entire work playing on top of someone’s travel footage (not mine, sadly), including the ambient sounds of the ocean, the boat, etc.

 

 

HIGHLIGHT:  The powerful programmatic elements.  I’ve never been to Staffa, but it’s not for lack of trying.  When I was living in Scotland (from 1988-1990, serving an LDS mission), I never had the chance.  When I returned to Scotland on vacation with my parents in 1996, we planned to go, but it was raining and no boats were willing to take us on a rainy day (unsafe).  When my wife and I were there in 2000, we headed towards Oban (where we would catch a boat to Staffa) but it was raining and we knew our chances were not good.  However, we noticed on the map that there was at least ONE island (Skye) that was close enough to the mainland that they had built a bridge to it.  So as we drove across the bridge to the Isle of Skye, I wistfully hummed the melody of this lovely piece by Mendelssohn.  Not quite the same thing as being on a boat, but it had to suffice.  Someday I’ll get to Staffa…(sigh)  Maybe next year…

 

WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY MENDELSSOHN?:  With over 100 opus numbers, I’ve got a ways to go!

I’m Listening to Everything Composed by Alberto Ginastera

January 27, 2014

(1916-1983)

 

This past summer, my wife and I had the opportunity to travel to Italy.  (I was performing at a conference there.) On route from Assisi to Rome, there was a relatively obscure, off-the-beaten-path sculpture garden called “Sacro Bosca” (literally “Sacred Grove”) in a small town called Bomarzo. The sculptures were carved in the 2nd half of the Renaissance (late sixteenth-century).  Here’s a brief video of my wife at one of the carvings:

 

 

This past week, I stumbled upon an opera by Alberto Ginastera connected to Sacro Bosca.

 

TITLE: Bomarzo

 

This opera is unrelentingly depressing.  Here’s the basic plot:

Pier Francesco Orsini (a hunchback), the Duke of Bomarzo, has a drink that his astrologer told him was a magic potion that would make him immortal. However, the drink turns out to be poisoned. After the poison starts to work, Bomarzo reflects upon his life in a series of flashbacks.  They are all depressing:

  • His father drags the young Pier Francesco into a room where a large skeleton dances and haunts him.
  • His father falls in battle.
  • He visits a courtesan but keeps catching sight of his deformed body in the many mirrors in her room.
  • His brother falls from a cliff and dies.
  • His wife likes another man more than him.
  • He becomes impotent.
  • He has large stone sculptures carved on his estate, symbolic of his tortured feelings. (By the way, there is no evidence in reality to support this statement.  In reality, he had them carved to entertain visitors to the estate).

After all the flashbacks, we see him drink the poison (again) and he dies in the mouth of one of his sculptures.  Maybe this one?

 

IMG_9237

 

So if it is indeed unrelentingly depressing, why would I bother listening to it?  Because Ginastera wrote some cool music and used some unusual techniques—for example, a harp tuned to quarter steps:

 

Most of the opera sounds like the following:

 

 

Not the most appealing music, in my opinion…

For me, the most interesting music is at the beginning of each act, like the harp example above.  Also, in the 2nd act opening, there is a brief section where a cello (or viola?) plays a dissonant “modern” melody with the quarter-tone harp, but then the harp is replaced with a mandolin and then with a harpsichord.  I wonder if Ginastera’s intent was to reflect the time period in which the opera was set by his choice of instrumentation.

 

 

HIGHLIGHT: Also in the start of the 2nd act is a moment where Ginastera wanted to have the spectre of death loom over the proceedings (in a musical way), so he uses the famous “Dies Irae” melody to great effect.

 

Here’s the original Middle Ages plainchant

 

 

And here’s how Ginastera quotes it in “Bomarzo.”

 

 

 

WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY GINASTERA?:  An extraordinarily large amount, including film scores.  I’ll do my best…

I’m Listening to Everything Composed by Francis Poulenc

January 7, 2014

(1899-1963)

 

Happy Birthday, Francis Poulenc!  Born 115 years ago today!

 

I’m a huge Poulenc fan.  Here I am at his grave in Paris.

 

2012 April Paris Champion week 010

His slow movements often bring me to tears because there’s such a strong sense of melancholy and loss or joy and love.  His fast movements are shocking and filled with energy.  When I was a young player first learning Poulenc’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, I found it dissonant and jarring, but exciting.  Now it remains one of my favorite pieces for clarinet, period!  However, I have to say that my favorite work by Poulenc is his…

 

TITLE: Sonata for Oboe and Piano.

 

Here’s a link to the entire work:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hY1j_DJDOf8

 

Even if you only listen to the first 60 seconds or so, I predict you’ll hear the immense beauty in this work.

 

The fast and exciting 2nd movement begins at 5:09.

 

HIGHLIGHT:  For me the opening of the first movement is the highlight.  I melt upon hearing it every time.  The other highlight is the third movement.  Skip ahead to 9:05 on the YouTube clip and listen to the first 60 seconds and hopefully you will weep with joy.

 

WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY POULENC?:  Tons, but, since he’s in my top ten list of favorite composers, I’m sure I’ll succeed at listening to them all.

I’m Listening to Everything Composed by Felix Mendelssohn

December 29, 2013

(1809-1847)

 

For my final December-themed blog post of 2013, I chose a set of choral works by Mendelssohn collectively titled…

 

TITLE: “Sechs Sprüche für das Kirchenjahr, Op. 79” (Six Maxims for the Church Year).

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE PIECE: These six brief choral works (all under two minutes) focus on six important days in the church year—Christmas, New Year’s Day, Ascension Day, Passiontide, Advent, and Good Friday. Each ends with the word “Hallelujah.” Upon first listening, these could be mistaken for a cappella works from an earlier time period, however, there is just enough pleasing dissonance to pinpoint the composition as being from the Romantic Era.

 

HIGHLIGHT: Appropriately enough for the current time of year, the highlight for me is the first piece in the set–“Weihnachten” (Christmas).  Here is the text (first the German, then the English translation):

 

Frohlocket, ihr Völker auf Erden, und preiset Gott!

Der Heiland ist erschienen, denn der Herr verheißen.

Er hat seine Gerechtigkeit der Welt offenbaret.

Halleluja!

 

Rejoice, ye people on earth, and praise the Lord!

The Saviour has appeared, whom the Lord has promised.

He has manifested his justice to the world.

Hallelujah!

 

As you listen, notice the cool dissonance that occurs on the first syllable of the word “preiset.” After that, the words “Herr,” “Gerechtigkeit” and “Welt” have the most glorious rich harmonies. (Especially the 2nd syllable of “Gerechtigkeit”!) Enjoy!

 

I found some fun YouTube videos of all six pieces where you can follow along with the score (but I’m less fond of the choir on these videos than of the example above).  Here are the links if you’re interested

Christmas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQWPhghoE5g

New Year’s Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIkvP7qhA_Y

Ascension Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSPYE8iXsmw

Passiontide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGEcVlwiCZ8

Advent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2eE4DY7u7c

Good Friday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHn0SfNvQE8

 

WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY MENDELSSOHN?:  With over 100 opus numbers, I’ve got a ways to go!

 

I’m Listening to Everything Composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams

December 9, 2013

(1872-1958)

 

TITLE: On Christmas Night

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE PIECE: This piece was written as a half hour ballet that essentially tells the story of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”   I’d love to see this as a ballet.  I think it would be fantastic and perhaps a nice break from Tchaikovsky’s overdone (but wonderful!) “Nutcracker.”  Here’s a brief excerpt from the 2nd section in the ballet (“Marley’s Ghost”). This is reminiscent of Dukas’ “Sorceror’s Apprentice” as well as dozens of film scores.

HIGHLIGHT:  The final scene is the highlight for me, mainly because I can imagine seeing it as a ballet and I suspect (know) it would make me cry. From a description I found online:

Arising from a mysterious Lento, an off-stage voice sings The First Nowell, soon joined by the chorus. The backcloth displays the Madonna and child, as in an Italian picture, and the procession of the Nativity enters. All kneel except Scrooge who remains outside the group. Tiny Tim notices this, goes to him, takes his hand and leads him in where he kneels with the others. With bells a-ringing, everyone joins in to sing ‘Nowell, Nowell’ before the ballet closes peacefully.

 

Listen to it, imagine the above, and, if you feel so inclined, let me know what you think!

I also found the entire piece in a concert performance (non-ballet)—it’s a wonderful performance (although they didn’t use any singers—just orchestra).  Whoever uploaded it to YouTube broke it up into three parts; I’ve included all three links below.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uNexM9PlCI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xvclx0hC_Qc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dywbkWa-KaM

 

WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY VAUGHAN WILLIAMS?: A very large amount of music, including five ballets and five operas.