Thursday, November 20, 2008
Nov 20 2008
Journal Response to Victoria: Vivaldi, Four Seasons
Music is often inspired by emotion, feeling, and aspects of life, the changing seasons of the year motivated Vivaldi to write one of the most renowned pieces of music the world has known. Vivaldi captures the essence of spring, summer, fall, and winter through sounds of the Baroque string quartet. He uses the ornamentations and timbre colors of the ensemble to portray what one might feel toward a certain season. There are moments of light dancing through spring; lush vast sounds within summer, beautiful color changes of fall, and icy briskness in winter.
After reading Victoria’s blog I wanted very badly to listen to this work in its entirety. It is something that I must admit I have not done before. Her response was very enlightening and informative. She gave a great overview of the work Vivaldi was doing in the girls’ orphanage and how proficient those students became at performing. One thing I would have liked to read more about, since she decided to go into the history of Vivaldi himself a little bit, is the kind of music he was writing to be played. She mentions briefly that his Concertos are in slow fast slow form, but never says much about the other works he was writing. She also mentions a couple other places Vivaldi was composing music for, but does not talk about those places as she does the orphanage, but I am unsure of why? Are they less important? What kinds of works was he writing for those places? Those are just a few questions that came to my mind.
I appreciated that fact that Victoria put in her journal that the original season Concerti were written for a string quartet, after looking up different recordings of this collaborative work it proved difficult to find an example that was not played by a full orchestra. If I did nothing but look up the pieces, I would most likely assume that the piece was always written for several strings instruments verses four.
Victoria also spoke about the use of ritornello in these Concertos. She explained what ritornello is and gave an example in the music of where it was used and what the listener should hear. I would have liked to read about more stylistic features of these works, each season Concerto used the fast slow fast form that she mentioned, but it would have been great to read about the different characteristics of these tempo variations for each Concerto and how they added to the season they were portraying. Other things such as ornamentation, imitation, harmonic progressions, and the way the music interacted would have been wonderful to read about.
One last thing I would like to comment on Victoria’s blog about is her personal response to the music. It is obvious to me as a reader that she appreciates this piece a lot. She mentions early on that she too plays violin and the Four Seasons is a piece that she has been exposed to all throughout her life. She includes a short paragraph at the end of her journal entry stating that Vivaldi serves as a direct inspiration to her, but she says nothing more than that. I am interested to know in what ways Vivaldi has inspired her. Are there certain things he has done, written, or said, or is it just an overall general feeling that his existence and everything he did combined inspires her.
Over all I thoroughly enjoyed reading Victoria’s journal. Her style of writing is easy to follow and understand. The things she had to say about the piece inspired some thought of my own as well as motivated me to look up more information about the Vivaldi piece. Victoria has a great written voice, I think if she uses her own questions and answers to provoke more thoughts in herself she will be able to expand on her writing even more and provide a very personal read.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Nov 13 2008
Journal Entry #3 Buxtehude: Organ Music
As the Renaissance unfolds into the Baroque era, an abundance of instrumental music becomes available. The haunting character of the organ began to fill halls more and more often with the sounds of preludes and chorales. As the popularity of the organ increased, the demand for proficient organists developed. One of the most prominent organists of the seventeenth century was Dieterich Buxtehude, his contribution of organ and vocal works helped to shape the development of music in its time, especially German organ preludes. Buxtehude’s music was played often in church and on concerts exposing his toccatas and preludes to numerous ears. His organ music was favored so much that JS Bach would frequently come listen to the music, thus inspiring the development of late Baroque music even more. Bine Bryndorf brings back to life some of Buxtehude’s organ music. The first volume exemplifies some of Buxtehude’s preludes at their best.
Bryndorf’s recording is a compilation of preludes, chorales, and ciaconas. The tracks varied in content making it interesting to listen to. It seemed that each piece alternated between fast and slow tempos and altered the amount of ornamentation included. The entire recording was solo organ, but the instrument has so many different register and timbre capabilities that it held my attention the whole way through. Some of the pieces would have the organ playing in a very low register and others in a very high register, one can also hear definite changes in the color of the sound; at times the instrument has a very airy and bright sound while others it is thick and broad in tone. The preludes had several characteristics of a toccata; they included a large amount of imitation and counterpoint while using several notes to show off proficiency of the performer. Another type of work on the recording was chorale hymns that were often slow in tempo and fairly simple in melodic content. A few of these chorale hymns had some slight ornamentation and did every now and then reach a moderately fast tempo. The other type of piece found on this recording was a ciacona, these pieces were more harmonically involved by using more notes in chords and incorporating the use of passing tones. Also, the use of chromatic movement was more common during these pieces and also used a significant amount of rhythmic and melodic imitation.
As a listener, I found this music to be very relaxing and intriguing. Almost all of these organ pieces moved in thirds or stepwise, many of the ornamentations and runs were based off of a scale. However, the complexity of the instrument allows these scale patterns to be dressed up with all the other chord possibilities of hands and feet playing together. The overall feel of the music switched between uplifting and pensive quite often. It gave a nice contrast of mood and feeling. These pieces would most likely have been found on the Abendmusik concerts on Sundays. This concert series was an open concert on Sunday evenings to the public, mainly performed for entertainment value. The concerts took place on the five Sundays before Christmas; which explains why the text that accompanies the hymn chorales was extremely sacred in meaning and dealt largely with Christmas time events. Reading the texts while listening to the recording made the experience more enjoyable to me, music is powerful as it is, but when you combine the emotional strength of text and sound, the impact is heightened even more.
It is also interesting to listen to the difference in each piece in how much ornamentation is used and in what way. As I listened, I tried to imagine sitting in an old church in Europe and listening to the new compositional technique that was being used. The colors of these works are beautiful, and I can see how Buxtehude was praised for his works. When I was looking up the texts the titles also brought up works by Bach, I believe that his music has been taken and revised several times. I am interested to look up these songs under Bach’s composition and see what kind of differences there are between the two composers and the time period they were written during.