music for thursday

sorry for the overly religious content if you understand and can’t handel it.. without understanding (though i know what it’s about..) you can really enjoy the harmony , interactions between the vocal and viola da gamba mixed in with harpsichord, then finally the gorgeous interweaving of baroque violin and the other 2 instruments in the entire last minute (would have been great to hear the oboe here too!). waaaay back in college just after discovering classical music, i stepped into a record store and heard a recording of Kathleen Battle singing this and fell in love with it instantly (without ever checking the meaning). In this particular take, you can interpret the voice as simply part of the 4 instruments, and likely the content is reflected in the “swing”. We can jot this down as the mildly expressive way, the “typically” way to sing Bach? As opposed to something with a bit more expression, e.g., Sandrine Piau’s version here, to super fast tempo? Am still working that into head, especially after a recent discussion on secular vs “typical” approach..



Edit: just woke up and saw my banner looking like this, something must have gone very right left! (**)
there’s more than 1 way to perform Bach 🙂
(as to why i’m still awake.. but this darn report must be done.. and the music is really great! i know it’s not christmas and the link was auto-loaded from another list of SM singing Bach.. and i currently tapping feet along unable to stop; feel free to re-start the video from the beginning, a riot!)

** correction from little sister 😉

mid-week music

Dear reader(s), please feel free to translate what she said afterward 🙂 (some thing about the range, something about “Laudamus te“). In fact this part “Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris” sounds pretty high, she’s almost singing in her “head” voice it seems.. “Qui tollis peccata mundi” is criminally cut at the end!! With such good sound i thought there would be a cd-recording of it but just simply can’t find anywhere..

Why Bach Mass in B minor? I have tried several times in the past, especially when it’s one of a very good friend’s favorite pieces and she’s always asking for my take, and yet I have never been able to “get it”. Suddenly today, while working late, I have the urge to re-visit several things I’ve listened to before but didn’t have strong impression yet now like.. There is something to be said about growing ears. Pappano’s take is very “fresh”, i love the orchestra. This, in addition to Mozart Requiem, is much more heavy toward the chorus, and I would have realllly loved to hear this choir too, if there’s a (radio?) recording anywhere.

Edit: hmm, after listening some 12 times.. i’m still not sure if that’s SM singing! Maybe they did say in the interview what they play? 🙂

music to start the weekend

welcome to another rambling post, this seems to be the new theme 🙂
picking music for “debugging” is quite tricky it turns out, what works: Bach, Händel, Mozart. what does not: Verdi, bel canto! Even the entire fantastic Dresden 1998 version sent the mind to the edge!! so now into hopefully a quiet weekend with do-loops, I’ve been searching for music to get started.. First VK’s Schwetzingen’s recital worked GREAT! then Bartoli’s Mozart’s recital worked fantastically! And I was going to pick up with Bartoli’s Paris recital again.. but then was also debating with S.Mingardo’s live “Il ritorno d’Ulisse”… But, let’s start here, a piece I’ve known for a long time and always wanted to see live (have several times…); fits quite ok with the “good friday” (also good weekend then?) theme:

bach cantata to start sunday

yes, yes, starting.  we lost 1 hour today and the freezing temperature compounded the timing. let’s warm up the super freezing office a bit with music. i have to make a talk which i really don’t feel like, hence procrastinating + blogging.. so, Bach’s cantatas, think i finally figure out what they are. (still on the list is his Brandenburg concertos..) You know i started out with the Matthews Passion in 2001 but seem to be stuck on just that. And with the recent obsession, and her discussion of starting out with the love for Bach music, plus the nice documentary showing the entire rehearsal session, it’s a perfect place to explore. He said lots of insightful things in there, including the use of period vs modern instruments and the swing to Bach’s music if viewed from secular stand.

Onto music, what i love the most is the change of mood, the lovely combo with oboe and voices, and combo of cello + harpsichord/organ. You can choose to listen to all 3, or whichever one.. but it’s got a nice dynamic if in the order:

1) chorus, triumphant music, with a love dance swinging to it.

2) recitative, the way i love. Given i don’t understand German, it emphasizes the point further through communication via only music. In fact she gave the impression of the preacher on sunday mass standing on high podium expressively spreading the words.

3) duet to oboe (final product of same duet after recitative in clip above)

* title + 1 slide done.
* i might have to come back to put up the next duet + chorus, simply because without them it seems so strange to stop the music at the deepest point with oboe!
* i back indeed, with the swinging duet. otherwise it’s just not the right place to stop the music! you can also follow the rehearsal here before they get to final product below, she’s talking to the German coach while tenor crying about pace :-).

4) duet with upward swing, picking up from deep oboe duet in (3)

and the night continues..

now that i semi-recovered from ranting mode* due to lost work… still in the plan is the other monterverdi but i currently stuck on this on repeat since last 5 hrs…

ok, so i got distracted by a link off the corner of eyes to Cecilia Bartoli singing Pergolesi… then more and more breadcrumbs to her Portrait (i can see how if i were at this live recital i’d have quickly become a fan, really like that concert), and now at her very charming interview with a nice host in english!

this is sort of my eating-2-cakes-in-1-sitting phase you know, the fact that she’s been discussed extensively both on Anik’s and in comments by people whose music taste i pay attention to.. and yet somehow i still trying to get a handel on.. so, while binging on sara mingardo (also a laaaate discovery), why not combine with whatever comes off the corner of eyes!

* from comment section in previous post where i saw some reallly nice monterverdi work with sara mingardo..


Edit: wow, hey! yay! Monteverdi! this is how to catch td’s attention!! what a way to start an opera! i in love!


Sara Mingardo, in boots, cap, and roses!!

more edit:
last screencap before i call it a night, complete with white shirt and tie.. let’s just say i super distracted and didn’t quite have a chance to hear the music.. and here’s also a link to the production where she’ll sing Ottone in feb/2015 at la scala!

period instruments affair

Edit: The broadcast is at 3PM EST, not 4 like i said. Here’s again the link.

** disclaimer: this is purely my own opinion, in particular about the hall. everyone should sample the hall for his/herself before making decision.

A long time ago, young thadieu set out to explore life and voluntarily registered for a class called “classical music appreciation”.  As part of the requirement, each student had to attend and submit full reports of 3 live concerts.  That first one was a bore, in the hectic zoo of tripple upper-deck of Hollywood Bowl, which we arrived late and left at intermission to avoid further traffic.  The 2nd one took place in a church during lunch time, 4 players on period instruments enjoying playing and interacting with the audience.  Everything i learned in class was on display, how the instruments ask and respond to each other warmly.  After the concert, the musicians invited us up for a closer look at the viola da gamba and some other really odd looking things.  I wrote up a very enthusiastic report, and despite never attended a 3rd concert, received very high mark for the class.

Since the first Bach Matthäuspassion in that church in Berlin, I’ve gained quite a few more insights into the music.  The piece is long enough that in every live performance you catch something new.  Anyhow, a chance to hear it performed live on period instruments was too great to pass up, so i dislodged my wariness of Symphony Hall and bought tix to hear the Handel and Haydn Society performance last night.

Boston Symphony Hall, (c) Stu Rosner

We shall focus on the positive part first:

The highlight of the night was “Erbarme Dich” (and the mezzo) . That’s Aisslinn Nosky solo violin to mezzo Monica Groop warm voice.  *Love* the tempo set by Harry Christophers. Here’s another case where bitter regret can be conveyed through faster than slow tempo (last time i said this was to “Che faro senza Euridice“). Through the years, my feeling is that it’s really a hit or miss with violinist/tempo/mezzo combo to bring out the emotion in the music. Here, the sounds were incredibly warm from both, beautifully mixed, left you all the time in the world to reflect. I know this aria is sooo famous and has been sung to death.  But to really have time to reflect on that irreversible moment is a unique experience: Peter had just denied Jesus three times and is now seen standing outside crying bitterly begging for forgiveness (don’t be alarmed to hear that from me, I grew up a catholic remember? and used to read through this whole story, even walked along the 14 stages in church reciting the bible.)

The entire 2nd half was superb.  i *love* duets, and duets you shall have many:

Aisslinn Nosky tuning violin


violin + mezzo,
violin + bass
violins + soprano,
viola da gamba + bass,
mezzo + soprano (+ woodwinds),
flutes + mezzo,
oboe + mezzo,
oboe + soprano,
oboe + tenor,
violins + bass

just to name a few… AND, i’ve always wanted to hear the mezzo’s notes in So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen and what the violins are playing in Mache Dich, mein Herze, rein. And as it turned out, Monica Groop’s tone was strong and dark, and stood out very very well that i was able to hear hers in entirety, yayyy. And i now also a big fan of her voice. Really, it’s not so usual to catch such a warm and strong mezzo (subjective here of course, Ingaborg Danz was here at Symphony Hall last year and hausmate reported not hearing her well, mezzo and gigantic halls don’t often mesh). This whole concert will be broadcast live this sunday at 3pm EST on WGBH boston. Do tune in if you are interested. And for Mache Dich, mein Herze, rein, it’s always the case in recording that the bass’ voice dominates so much I don’t get to hear the violins. As it turned out again, sitting way on the left, with the bass on my right ear and WAAARM violin I (headed by Ms. Nosky) on my left (and strong) ear, the distinction was GREAT. love the violins’ music! I’m of course also a big fan of this aria, but for this particular time, i love the violins much more than the bass, so it all worked out.

The rest was great too. The choirs were great. LOVE the tempo, much much more sensitive than a couple of weeks ago. Orchestra dynamics were great, all thanks to Harry Christophers and the superb musicians. Big shout out to the woodwind section on orchestra I, as well as the AMAZING viola-da-gambist (?!).  Orchestra II sounded thin to me, which I’ve attributed it to the distance (see diagram on right, more below).  I’ve come to a conclusion: it’s HARD to get me distracted while listening to Bach St Matthews Passion. There’s soo much communication in the music, not one bit of attention is lost! which brings me to the first part, and why I almost left the concert at intermission…

The first half, from seat CC26, there’s not much to discuss. You can call me deaf if it suits you, but i declare again: Symphony Hall is too big for period instruments. It felt like Munich central train station, huuuuge space, musicians spread out across what must have been a 30m(?) stage.  Aisslinn Nosky was there, Christina Day Martinson was there.  Should I even care? I couldn’t hear them (can’t hear = no detail, you can’t just “hear” the sound of a violin for the sake of identifying it as a violin without anything else to say). Anyhow, St. Matthews Passion is truly an intimate piece. And to hear / miss so much of the fine details of communication between the orchestra and the singers, it’s like a close friend confining in you her most intimate moment from 10m away and you’re wondering half of the time if she’s talking to you or to some other people.  Ever have a feeling where people kind of “yell” in your direction and “appear” to be SOOO into what they are doing, but you’re indifferent to their passion due to no connection? I considered just leaving the concert at intermission.  But, of course, being such a resourceful person, yours truly opted to skip UP 15 rows to land at seat P24.  And that is where one should be! (closer if finer too, i didn’t want to cause a commotion.)