Day 357: Songs IX

BrahmsCD51Today’s CD features two sopranos, a tenor, and a pianist.

Despite the mezzo-soprano (a vocal range that’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to me), this collection of songs is kind of compelling.

Even sung in German.

There are too many songs to name (31 tracks in all, nearly 70 minutes of music). But they are divided into three sections.

The Compositions:

Songs (3 tracks)

Op. 58 (14 tracks, composed 1871; Brahms was 38)

Volks-Kinderlieder Wo031 (14 tracks)

The Performers:

Antonia Bourve soprano

Rebekka Stohr mezzo-soprano

Daniel Sans tenor

Tobias Hartlieb piano

Track 4 (Op. 58, No. 1 “Blinde Kuh”) is compelling for its bouncy, bold melody and use of the two sopranos, intertwining their ranges in a fun, almost humorous way.

Here’s precisely what I’m listening to this morning:

Here’s what the song sounds like with just one female vocalist:

The rest of the CD is pretty much the same.

For me, I believe the compelling aspect to this CD is the piano playing and the melody of the songs. It seems almost Beethoven-like in some spots – a deep, resonant piano tone with a serious-sounding melody.

Day 60: Seven Last Words of Christ

HaydnCD60I was tempted to come up with a goofy title for today’s blog entry. After all, today marks two continuous months for me, listening to Haydn every day.

But the title of today’s Haydn composition is Die Sieben Letzten Worte, or The Seven Last Words of Christ.

How could I write a goofy headline with a subject matter like that?

Obviously, I couldn’t.

According to its entry on Wikipedia, today’s composition,

is an orchestral work by Joseph Haydn, commissioned in 1785 or 1786 for the Good Friday service at Cádiz Cathedral in Spain. The composer adapted it in 1787 for string quartet and in 1796 as an oratorio (with both solo and choral vocal forces), and he approved a version for solo piano.

The seven main meditative sections — labelled “sonatas” and all slow — are framed by an Introduction and a speedy “Earthquake” conclusion, for a total of nine movements.

Given those dates, Haydn was 54 or 55 when he composed this piece.

I have nothing against Jesus, last words or first. However, Haydn’s Die Sieben Letzten Worte is wearisome. It’s too ponderous (strike that: let’s call it lugubrious) for my tastes. No breakout arias. No orchestration that just knocks me back.

I often wonder if sacred/religious music like this is meant to be heard many decades (or even centuries) after it was composed. To me, it seems akin to somebody setting my prayers to music and releasing it as an album. In other words, making public very private, personal moments. The meaning I intend for that private moment may not be understood by an audience.

But what do I know? I’m not a Continue reading