Monday, September 15, 2008

Gadjo’s Night at the Concert Hall

(It doesn’t sound so glamorous, does it. Never mind.) As I stated previously, although I enjoy some operas I’m more familiar with other forms of classical music. So to fill the list of 12 that Gyppo Byard has instigated, I’m broadening the perspective, though moving only one step away and considering anything with voices and large-scale instrumentation. For want of a better system, I’m listing these in terms of increasing religiosity (though bear in mind that I understand very little of what’s being sung) so if any of you start feeling your blood rising and your hand instinctively reaching for your Dawkins then you know it’s time to switch to another blog :-)

CARMINA BURANA (Carl Orff, 1937) Yeah, the Old Spice advert!! Set to secular Medieval text about Wine, Women, and Song. I’ve danced to this many times as it was the favourite piece of our movement choir choreographer on the summer school I attended regularly.

DAS LIED VON DER ERDE (Gustav Mahler, 1909) (The Song of the Earth) This is a superbly effecting piece, and as close to Wagnerian as I can comfortably get. Apparently it’s ancient Chinese poetry rendered into German, but it really doesn’t sound as bad as all that.

CURLEW RIVER (Benjamin Britten, 1964) Almost an opera, though Britten never classed it as such, this is fascinatingly “different” piece in many ways. It’s based on a Japanese noh play, and allowed Peter Pears to “drag up” as The Madwoman in honourable onnagata tradition.

GLAGOLITIC MASS (Leoš Janáček, 1926) We pedants know that this is really a secular mass and that “Glagolitic” refers to the alphabet of the Old Church Slavonic text rather the language itself. Great organ solo, edgy and compelling choral arrangements: together with Messiaen’s (vocal-less and therefore inelligible) Turangalîla Symphony, my favourite piece of classical music.

MISA CRIOLLA / NAVIDAD NUESTRA (Ariel Ramírez, both 1964) These are two pieces by an Argentine composer based on traditional rhythms of his homeland. They're also “dancing pieces” for me, and the memories still linger.

PASSION AND RESSURRECTION (Jonathan Harvey) “Hurray” for new music!! Harvey has composed a lot for percussion and electronic tape machines, but this is more accessible and has some lovely passages. He was a pupil of Messiaen’s, and it shows.

THE ETERNAL GOSPEL (Leoš Janáček) Janáček composed many and various pieces for choirs, like this one; I just wish I lived in the Czech republic, as I’m sure that I’d never tire of hearing or singing them.

MISSA BREVIS / PSALMUS HUNGARICUS (Zoltán Kodály) Many people seem to consider Kodály at bit 2nd division but I really like his music, and have fallen asleep – in a good way – to these pieces many times.

LITURGY OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (Kyrylo Stetsenko, 1918) I don’t know much about Eastern Orthodox music, except that the old bloke downstairs can ring our local church’s bell on a Sunday morning even when he was lying on a pavement stone-cold drunk the night before. And I don’t select this Ukrainian piece to impress Mrs Boyo - who’ll hate it anyway – but because it’s genuinely a favourite listening experience on a Sunday afternoon.


Gyppo Byard said...

Ooh - intriguing. I have a love-hate relationship with Carmina Burana that only a tenor would understand; and while I enjoy Mahler in Wagnerian sort of way, I would go for the Symphony of a Thousand myself.

M C Ward said...

Fascinating choices, GD. I'm ashamed to say I'm unfamiliar with many, but will seek to rectify this forthwith.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Yay! Janáček!

nice choices

No Good Boyo said...

Mahler is my favourite composer, and Das Lied is immortal. There's a mono recording of Kathleen Ferrier singing it with the Helle Orchestra that's well worth tracking down.

Carmina Burana and the Glagolitic Mass are guilty pleasures, and I'll certainly look out for your other suggestions.

I used to like singing along to Kodaly's Psalmus, especially the "Mint golomb" (like a dove) bit. Hungarian is a language that just keeps giving.

No Good Boyo said...

That should be Halle orchestra, of course!

Gyppo Byard said...

Speaking of languages that keep giving, Janacek's setting of the Lord's Prayer in Czech ('Otcenas') is a thing to be dearly treasured since it allows the tenor soloist to stand in a consecrated building singing "O prjit - o prjit - o prjiiiiiiiiiit nam kralovtsvyitvyaaaaay", the 'prjit' being pleasingly pronounced "shit".

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ahh. I did indeed once have an LP of that Kathleen Ferrier recording, Boyo :-) And I'd be hearing Janáček's o prjiiiiiiiiiit playing right now if my CD drive hadn't just crapped itself!! But now to lighten the mood a little we need Tom Lehrer:

The first one she married was Mahler,
Whose buddies all knew him as Gustav,
And each time he saw her he'd holler,
"Ach, that is the Fräulein I must have!"

Their marriage, however, was murdah.
He'd scream to the heavens above,
"I'm writing Das Lied von der Erde
And she only wants to make love!"

The Dotterel said...

This is more like it! Can I swap the challenge to make a list of fave films (which I'm still struggling to achieve) for this? On the other hand, it might be even harder.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Mr Dotterel, yes of course you can, it'd be delightful!

p.s. I think I've just found out how you got your name: don't be so hard on yourself, apparantly they are very good fathers :-)

The Dotterel said...

That's precisely why I got my name, apparently. Anyway, I've started my list - consisting of just one piece so far. You can find it here:
(How do you get that to work as a link when you're posting comments?)

Gadjo Dilo said...

Great that you've started, Mr Dotterel; I've left a comment there.

You make something a hyperlink by doing the following (I've had to put spaces around the < and > characters so it doesn't automatically become a hyperlink and therefore useless as an explanation):

< a href=webpage URL>text description< /a >

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