Philippe Jaroussky, Countertenor, Performing a Number of Baroque Pieces

In the writing of this Baroque section of liturgical music, for the first time I have come across the name of Philippe Jaroussky. Having discovered him, I have also discovered a wide variety of music and composers that he has performed most impressively. He seems to have focused particularly on the Baroque era, but sings most admirably Medieval and Renaissance music as well. He specializes in the music written for the castrati, and a short but focused article concerning his background, his debut as a countertenor, and audience reactions appears at http://www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/arts/a-natural-high–with-no-surgical-intervention/2010/02/15/1266082241013.html

He deserves more hearing, so I include some of those posts:

And for a delightful video humorously dramatizing an audience response to him and the same aria, above, in a setting contemporaneous with George Friedrich Handel, see:

And for similar contemporary countertenor portrayals of Baroque castrati performances and audience reaction, see:

For a musically sound, humorous and delightful side of him, yet characteristically Baroque style, including some more contemporary music which showcases his artistic flair, see

 

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Alessandro Scarlatti (1660 – 1725)

Alessandro Scarlatti (1660 – 1725) was a composer of the Baroque era and founder of the Neapolitan school of Opera. The Baroque era is considered to have culminated with the work of Handel and Bach in 1750. Alessandro Scarlatti was representative of the mature Baroque era. He is considered to have bridged the Baroque era and the succeeding Classical era of music. His opera experience certainly influenced his sacred music, particularly the oratorio. The oratorio also was dramatic, but without staging and acting, as in opera. A device that he used in both is the recitative, which precedes the aria and introduces its subject matter gives it setting rather than having great melodic interest in its own right; neither had it costumes or stage settings. I understand that it might have included some narration. We will further discuss and demonstrate that in our discussion of Handel and his Messiah.
Alessandro Scarlatti also composed upward to 500 chamber sonatas, some of which are included, below.

I must say that I am exceptionally grateful for the materials that have been made available through YouTube, which make exceptional performance resources.  At age 64, as I write this, it is remarkably different from the time in which I grew up, went to school and taught music. What an immense and beautiful resource!!

Vocal sacred music
Salve Regina, op. 2 Nr. 10

Cieca Talpa

The above link is provided not only because it is sacred music of the Baroque period, but, also, for its sound musical performance, its beauty, particularly that of the vocalist, Roberta Invernizzi, it’s demonstration of the increasing role of instruments in sacred music, its also demonstrates the impact of instrumental music upon Baroque composition for the human voice, its rhythmic and harmonic drive.

At the above site there is also a comment which, while it may be somewhat critical in its introduction, more articulately and expressively states my own observation, above:

Only Alessandro Scarlatti’s talent and intellect could combine such operatic techniques into a sacred work and still produce something lofty and sincere. How much Handel owes this man! Also “strings are not bad either” – not bad for some of the finest baroque musicians in Europe…

Salve Regina  http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=NTQxWqeSkk0&feature=endscreen
I had never heard of the name of Roberta Invernizzi until I located this clip on YouTube of the performance of Cieca Talpa, above. Not only is her performance remarkably beautiful and artistically sound, but it demonstrates, also, the belcanto, or “beautiful singing,” style characteristic of the Baroque era.  The composition has a contrasting section in which Scarlatti uses the human voice as an instrument with immense rhythmic drive. In this case, one can also observe the dramatic contrasts (as in the visual artistic use of chiaroscuro ) and ornamentation, both of which are stylistically characteristic of the Baroque era.

The oratorios:
Sedecia, Re Di Gerusalemme

This oratorio has an extensive overture as is common to that form in the later Baroque as is perhaps best recognized in Handel’s Messiah. It is all the more interesting because it features two countertenors and a soprano, including a duet of soprano and counter tenor. The above site includes the following tribute, beautiful in its own right:

I do not know when this was performed but I am so happy to see the early performance of Philippe Jaroussky when he was a budding new face as a CT. He has shown his extraordinary talent already here. How much he has grown since this performance is really amazing!! His voice stronger, fuller and much more beautiful now. Thank you for this precious video.

I also include the following YouTube video post that is entitled, “Cecilia Bartoli – Castrati” I do not know Cecilia Bartoli other than by name, but this clip appears to be the performance of a woman who looks similar to other YouTube videos of Cecilia Bartoli, rather than that of a castrati.

A castrati (to be distinguished from the counter tenor) was created by a deforming practice common to the Baroque era, It also risked Joseph Haydn’s manhood as a choir boy some 150 years later, which would likely diverted his compositional talents. As with a steer, the body developed a large vocal instrument, the vocal instrument being the entire body, castration during adolescence tended to freeze the vocal cords in their development while permitting the body to mature, preserving the voice at the stage of development when the operation was performed, allowing for remarkably powerful sopranos and altos, depending upon when they underwent the procedure. Besides being a beautiful performance (there are so many available on YouTube, that I fear that “beautiful” or “remarkable” gives none of them justice), the selection below is illustrative of both the Baroque instrumental treatment of the voice and of belcanto singing. I do not even know whether this is Scarlatti, although it seems to be consistent with his style:

Instrumental works
The focus of this series of posts is sacred music of the church. That tends to be liturgical, however in the latter part of the Renaissance instrumental music was increasingly incorporated in sacred music, particularly relating to the Protestant Reformation, and that, first with the organ and then with other instruments. The Gabrieli’s increasingly incorporated instruments in their church music; that increased in the Baroque Period. That increase in the use of instruments during the Baroque Period, also influence the technical use of the human voice as an instrument, both in the intricacies of the line and trills.

Concerto for Recorder in A minor

I include the Concerto for Recorder both for its music and for the visuals inserted into the video which include photographs of Scarlatti, the instruments of the time, and the settings, historically and currently.
Concerto grosso n°2 en ut mineur

Cello Sonata No.1

Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695)

Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695) was an English composer who was heavily influenced by Italian and French styles of composition, but his style remained distinctly English. He has been considered the greatest English composer prior to Edward Elgar. Some have claimed that he was composing as young as nine years of age, but, unlike Mozart, none of those childhood compositions remain extant. He wrote songs, and Psalm settings; operas, Dido and Aeneas, The Faerie-Queen, and several musical settings of Shakespearean plays, including the Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest; several less formal operas, called “semi – operas,” or “dramatic operas;” music for the theater; and sacred works for Westminster Abbey.  At the same time that he served Westminster Abbey, he served as organist for the Chapel Royal. He is well-known for “Trumpet Voluntary,” which has often been played at weddings and anthem and eulogies for Queen II’s funeral; and for the choral piece, “Sound the Trumpet.” He met an untimely death at about 35 years of age. He was buried beside the organ in Westminster Abbey, and the music that he wrote for Queen Mary’s funeral was performed at his own. He was quite prolific given his early death.

See,  Abdelazer Suite: II. Rondeau,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15rj-xFh2yg.  Benjamin Britten used the same theme for the variations in his Young People’s Guide to the Orchestra, as performed by the London Symphony and directed by Michael Tilson Thomas, which may be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR9nDnyIhAU.

Jubilate Deo in D major (which has many similarities to Sound the Trumpet, below

Hear my prayer

Christ is made the sure foundation

Sound the Trumpet uses an interesting repeating ground base over which to counter tenor’s (men who have trained their voices to sing soprano and alto) imitate to lively trumpet parts. Will note that during the Baroque Period the voices treated as an instrument that is with rich, florid passages played by an instrument, including delicate ornamentation’s. You will also note to the characteristic Baroque rhythmic drive.

I first became familiar with this piece when I was directing church choirs. The following is similar to that arrangement, but sung by young children:

Let mine eyes run down with tears (Jeremiah 14:17-22)
http://bibleasmusic.com/?cat=93

http://bibleasmusic.com/jubilate-deo-o-be-joyful-in-the-lord-psalm-100-1-5-henry-purcell/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBibleAsMusic+%28The+Bible+as+Music%29

Dietrich Buxtehude (ca. 1637 – 1707)

Dietrich Buxtehude (ca. 1637 – 1707) was a German – Danish organist and composer. He is particularly well known for his organ pieces. He strongly influenced Johan Sebastian Bach and other Baroque composers. While he was yet active in music composition, he organized evening performances, called Abendmusik, or “evening music,” which were held at the church that he served at Marienkirche, Lubeck, Germany.  They were free to the public. These were also attended by many composers, including George Phillip Telemann, George Friedrich Handel and Johan Sebastian Bach.
He wrote a significant volume of organ works based upon chorale tunes, choral music, including oratorios, chamber music, choral chorale settings, and chorale fantasies. Much of his music is fugal, that is, much as around, certain melodic material set on the same or different notes that come in at different times before they diverge into new material; consistent with the practice of the time, it also provided places for the organist to improvise based upon material already written, much as a jazz artist might improvise during the 20th century or two day. There typically are two or three fugues within a given piece. Much of his rich in music has been lost, and in some cases, survives only by the transcriptions of others.
Organ works:
Toccata in F Major

Praeludium und Fuge (A moll) BuxWV 153

“Passacaglia” BuxWV 161

Praeludium in g

Praeludium und Fuge (A moll) BuxWV 153

Orchestration of his organ work, Chacona en Mi menor

Choral works:
Jesu meines Lebens Leben

Laudate pueri, Dominum

Das neugeborene Kindelein

Der Herr ist mit mir

Magnificat

Instrumental works:
Sonata opus 2 for viol and harpsichord

Passacaglia (Bux WV 161)

Triosonata Opus 1 no. 3 violin & viola da gamba

 

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632 – 1687)

Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632 – 1687) was born in Italy, but became composer in the French court of Louis XIV. He was a chief contributor to what became known as the French Baroque style, rejecting his Italian roots. He developed his musical skills by playing the guitar, instructed by a Franciscan Friar in Italy. Someone recognized his musical talents and took him to France to serve Mademoiselle de Montpensier to do various jobs that she requested and to teach the Italian language. While there, he studied music theory.  Ultimately she dismissed him for some indiscreet song he made concerning her. In 1653, he became a dancer in the court of Louis XIV. While there, he composed a ballet, sufficiently impressive that King Louis appointed him the court composer of instrumental music. He is known primarily for his ballets.  One Day, he was directing the court orchestra with a staff by pounding it on the floor (can you imagine the effect of that?), when he accidentally pounded on his toe. It became became abscessed ultimately resulting in gangrene, which took his life.

The behaviors which caused his dismissal by the Mademoiselle continued throughout his life. He was a free spirit and was marked by numerous scandals and relationships with both men and women. It is always remarkable when people of questionable repute, at least in the public eye, produce such beauty. My mother, Xenia Lee Fitz Randolph Wheeler, says that she likes the Bible stories, using as an example, King David, because it tells her that God can use flawed and ordinary people for “His” purposes. I think the same can be said of Lully.
Although he is particularly known for introduction of new instruments to the orchestra, his ballets, many of which he danced him him him him self until advanced age, his operas, and music written for comedies of Molière, he also wrote some beautiful sacred music, such as the following:
Te Deum
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxDDHhV4YMg
De Profundis
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxHFYHM9WnA&feature=fvwrel
Grand Motet – Exaudiat te Dominus
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnTPdsQvSW4&feature=related
Dies irae
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGvmTI5BS_c&feature=relate
Miserere
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZUwQqFSttQ

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Samuel Scheidt (1587 – 1654)

Samuel Scheidt (1587 – 1654) was a German composer who, all so lived and composed during the Thirty Years’ War, and, for a time, was Kappel lmeister to the Margrave of Brandenburg. He is the first German composer to be internationally recognized. He developed the German style of music in response to the Protestant Reformation. Organ works are a major part of his musical contribution.

For performances of his music, see:
Canzona Bergamasca is a favorite of brass quintets

Suite für Blechbläser

Das Orgelwerk for organ,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU7GfeRR4YU&feature=fvsr with some interesting sound effects

Variations on “Ach, du feiner reiter”

Canzon for 4 Trumpets
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_qUFMrdU54

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Heinrich Schutz (1585 – 1672)

Heinrich Schutz (1585 – 1672) was a German composer and organist in the early 17th century.  He was considered by many to be in the class of Monteverdi. He was first trained as a lawyer and only later studied music with Giovanni Gabriele and then with Claudio Monteverdi. He wrote in a polyphonic style similar to that of the Renaissance in approaching and resolving dissonances. In addition to his organ works and sacred choral music, he is known as the composer of the first German opera. Also, as was common in the Baroque era, he was known for “word painting,” in which the composers sought to portray in sound a specific action or mood, such as a falling melodic line painted a picture of depressed moods, or rising melodic line for happy moods.  A miniature form of this affect is the “Baroque “sigh,” consisting of an appoggiatura of a single dissonant note resolving downward to a consonant note.

This power of music was recognized in what was known as the Doctrine of Affections. Both Bach and Brahms were influenced by his works for examples of his work.

For performances of his work, see:

Heu mihi domine & Quid commisisti

Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes

Gib, gib unsern Fürsten

Psalm 100

Jauchzet dem Herren

Tröstet, tröstet mein Volk

Es ist erschienen die heilsame Gnade Gottes [For the grace of God] (Titus 2:11-14)
http://bibleasmusic.com/?cat=269

 

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/