Gregorian Chant

Gregorian Chant
Alleluia: Vidimus stellam (We Have Seen His Star)
Choralis Solinger; Gabriel M. Steinschulte, director
Gregorian chant is monophonic church music of the Middle Ages named
after Pope Gregory I (c. 540-604): also called plainchant.This
jubilant Gregorian chant is the Alleluia from the Mass for Epiphany.
In this chant, many notes are sung to "ia" is an expression of over
Listening Guide
Listen to the Gregorian chant Alleluia from an early Catholic Mass,
which consists of melody set to sacred Latin texts and sung without
accompaniment (The chant is in monophonic texture). The chant is
in ABA from: A (Solo voice: Alleluia+Chorus: long series of notes
on ia), B (Chorus), A (Chorus)
Perotin (c. 1200)
Organum, Alleluia: Nativitas (The Nativity of the Virgin Mary)
Hilliard Ensemble; Paul Hillier, conductor
Perotin was the first known composer to write music with more than
two voices.
Listening Guide
This is an organum (Polyphonic choral church music beginning in
the ninth century) in three voices which is based on a Gregorian
alleluia melody. The lowest part (the chant) is played on an
instrument, while the two upper parts are sung by vocal soloists
who are reinforced by instruments.
Medieval Dance
Estampie (13th century)
Martin Best Mediaeval Ensemble; Martin Best, director
This is a medieval dance. One of the earliest surviving forms of
instrumental music. Dances in the Middle Ages were often accompanied
by instrumental music.
Listening Guide
The estampie is in triple meter. This melody is played on a rebec
(a bowed string instrument) and a pipe (a tubular wind instrument).
Since medieval minstrels probably improvised modest accompaniments
to dance tunes, the performers have added a drone-two simultaneous
repeated notes at the interval of a fifth, played on a psaltery
(a plucked or struck string instrument).
Palestrina (c. 1525-1594)
Mass: De Beata Virgine Kyrie (To the Blessed Virgin-"Kyrie")
Spandauer Kantorei; Martin Behrman, conductor
This is the late 16th century polyphonic treatment of the "Kyrie"
section from the ordinary of the Mass De Beata Virgine. The melody
of this Kyrie is an old Gregorian chant, around which Palestrina
added other voice parts.
Listening Guide
Notice that the sopranos begin and the altos enter with counterpoint,
after which the tenors and basses imitate the sopranos and altos.
What you hear in this style is almost constant imitation, prompting
you to shift your focus to whichever voice enters with the melody.
Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1555-1612)
Motet: O magnum mysterium (O, what a great mystery)
Kings College Choir; Philip Jones Brass Ensemble; Stephen
Cleobury, conductor
The most important composer in Venice. As organists of ST. Mark's
Cathedral, he exploited the special acoustics of that extraordinary
building. By placing choirs of singers and instrumentalists in
different choir lofts, they obtained brilliant echo effects that
even modern audio equipment cannot recapture. A motet is sacred
polyphonic music for voices popular during the Renaissance and
Baroque style periods.
Listening Guide
Gabrieli is using two large choirs, each with three voice parts
and four instrumenntal parts, plus organ.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Die Forelle (The Trout: 1817)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, bariton; Gerald Moor, piano
One of Schubert's most famous songs, The Trout reflects the
romantics' attraction to nature and to folklike simplicity. The
text, by Christian Daniel Schubart (1739-1791)---tells of a trout
that swims merrily in a brook but is then caught by a clever fisherman.
Listening Guide
Listen to the form of the song. The Trout is in modified strophic
form: A (stanza 1), A(stanza 2), BA'(stanza 3). The melody (A) which
describe the fish happily swimming. New music (B) is used for most
of the last stanza, which tells how the trout is caught.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Cantata No. 140 (1731): 1st Movement : Wachet auf, ruft uns
die Stimme (Awake, A Voice is Calling Us)
Concentus Musicus Wien; Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor
Bach employs the chorale melody written by Philop
Nicolai(1555-1608). This movement is for Chorus and Orchestra :
2 oboes, English horn, French horn, 1st violins, 2nd violins, violas,
basso continuo (organ, bassoon, cello)
Listening Guide
Notice the use of the animated polyphonic texture combined with
instrumental accompaniment. After an instrumental introduction,
the sopranos sing Nicolai's chorale melody. Then different sections
of the choir imitate the chorale melody.
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
WidMung (Dedication)
Heinz Rehfuss, bariton; Frank Martin, piano
Schumann composed the song for Clara and had it performed at their
wedding. The text is by the German poet Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866)
Listening Guide
Notice how the mood of the music and of the poetry fit. For instance,
when the text states "Du bist die Ruh, du bist der Frieden" ("You
are rest, you are peace"), the music changes from the excited opening
to a more peaceful mood. After the singer finishes, the piano
continues playing a little postlude with a musical quote from
Schubert's "Ave Maria" to show Schumann's heightened devotion to
Stephen Sondheim (b.1930)
A Little Night Music (1973): Send in the Clowns
Anni Hughes, Orchestra conducted by Donald Perlman
Sondheim's show was one of the big hits of Broadway's 1973 season.
Mozart's serenade "Eine Kline Nachtmusik"(A Little Night Music)
provided the title for this work. The story, closely based on Igmar
Bergman's film "Smiles of a Summer Night," is set in Sweden and
about Fredrik Egerman, a middle-aged attorney, newly remarried to
a teenage girl the same age as his son. After 11 monthes of an
unsatisfying marriage in which his wife is still a virgin, Egerman
resumes an affair whith his former mistress, Desiree Armfeldt- an
actress whose current lover is Count Malcolm, a Swedish military
office. "Send in the Clowns" is sung in the musical by Desiree when
she and Egerman meet again after years of separation.
Listening Guide
Broadway Musical song
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Don Giovanni (1787): Act I, RECITATIVE: Alfin siam liberati
(At last, we're free)
Richard van Allen, baritone; Ingvar Wixell, baritone; Mirella
Freni, soprano; Otchestra of the Royal Opera House; Colin Davis,
Giovanni invites Zerlina up to his villa, promising to marry her
and make her into a fine lady.
Listening Guide
Recitative (recite)- A speech like section in operas, oratorios,
cantatas and other vocal works where it is particularly important
for the words to be brought out. This recitative sung with just
continuo accompaniment.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Don Giovanni: Act I, Duet: La ci darem la mano (There you'll
give me your hand)
Richard van Allen, baritone; Ingvar Wixell, baritone; Mirella
Freni, soprano; Otchestra of the Royal Opera House; Colin Davis,
This is the most famous tune between Don Giovanni and Zerlina. Opera
depend on memorable tunes, as well as on musical drama.
Listening Guide
Duet (an ensemble for two singers)
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
La Boheme (1896): Act I, Aria: Che gelida manina (What a cold
little hand)
Andrea Bocelli, tenor; Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale
Fiorentino, Gianandrea Noseda, conductor
The poet, Rodolfo tells Mimi the story about himself, his dreams
and his fantasies.
Listening Guide
Aria-an elaborate solo song with instrumental accompaniment,
generally in an opera, oratorio, or cantata.
Giacomo Puccini
La Boheme: Act I, Aria: Mi chiamano Mimi (They call me Mimi)
Renata Tebaldi, soprano; Orcchestra e coro dell'Accademia di
Santa Cecilia, Roma
Mimi responds with a poetic description of her simple life in this
Giacomo Puccini
La Boheme: Act III, Aria (Mimi's Farewell): Donde lieta usci
(Back to the place I left)
Montserrat Caballe, soprano; London Sympony Orchestra,
Charles Mackerras, conductor
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