(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.