I gained a Merit for this unit.
This weekend I managed to complete the final critical listening assignment for the comparison I did "Ah Belinda" an excerpt from Dido and Aeneas. For the critique I used an excerpt of the choir singing "Tantum Ergo" from last year's summer concert. I have quite enjoyed the whole unit especially looking at the two different recordings of Dido and Aeneas. I have also learnt a lot about critiquing personal performances, I need to be careful about the wording I choose and to be able to explain my opinions about pieces of music. I need to be sure that I am getting the best sound quality when listening to except, for example using using an external sound module
I am closing in on finishing the last assignment of this unit and my 2nd year!
Just for relaxation I am having a break this evening and listening to Satyagraha by Philip Glass. On Sky Arts we have the production by Richard Croft and the Metropolitan Opera. It is 3 hours long so I have recorded it so as to be able to watch it an act a night.
So far I have discovered that it features melody dominated homophony.
Since the previous post, I have started the second assignment for the Critical Listening. Last week I made notes on the piece I am doing for the critique which is, 'Tantum Ergo' by Schubert sung by the College Choir. On Sunday I also started doing the comparison of Purcell's 'Dido and Aeneas' using the two recorded recommended in class. These are Christopher Hogwood conducting the Academy of Ancient Music with Catherine Bott as Dido http://www.amazon.co.uk/Purcell-Dido-Aeneas/dp/B001RNW4XA/ref=dm_cd_album_lnk and a version conduct by Paul Leppard http://www.naxosmusiclibrary.com/catalogue/item.asp?cid=685738924264
I feel I am coping well with this assignment, especially the comparison because I really enjoy listening to these pieces. I prefer the Christopher Hogwood version of 'Dido and Aeneas' because it has subtle reverb. on the recording which makes it feel very intimate. The Hogwood version also uses period instruments while the Leppard version uses modern day instruments, except for the harpsichord.
Last Friday I and some of my family went to the RSNO Naked Classics concert of Igor Stravinsky's Firebird. The first half was a presentation analysing parts of the music including aspects of instrumentation, intervals and rhythm. There was some audience participation required for the rhythmic analysis, great fun! This was highly valuable as a concert experience. Some things I already knew about the work or could work out but I learned about how Stravinsky used the diminished chords for character portrayal. The second half performance was very good. I think knowing that my former piano teacher, Linda Cochrane and occasional harp teacher, fellow orcadian Helen Thomson, were in the orchestra added a certain sparkle for me. The sighted members of the party fed back that a visual of the ballet might have added further to their new-found knowledge of the work, I hope to go to the next concert in the series, Wagner's The Ring.
Today I listened to another of Purcell's works, the semi-opera, King Arthur. The produciotn was by L'ensemble Vox Luminis under Herve Niquet. The presented the work as a ,comic opera' using one of the stage hands as part of the links between acts to make it more interesting for the audience. Opera fans might have thought this 'over the top' funny. I thought it was enjoyable although the french dialogue in between acts was beyond me. The orchestra joined in the fun, even drinking wine and donning outdoor clothing for the Frost Scene. The sound of the music was true to the Baroque period. Instrumentation included: recorders, natural trumpets and horns, small percussion, strings, lute and harpsichord. In its original form the musical sections would be alongside longer dramatic scenes with the words written by John Dryden.
Afterwards I found a good synopsis at http://www.impresario.ch/libretto/libpurkin_e.htm
The performance can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-bBD9kEutc
As well as listening to Dido and Aeneas by Purcell I am also closely listening to Wedding Day at Trolhaugen by Edvard Greig (1843-1907). The work is from his collection Lyric pieces bk.8.
So far I have listened to the intro at:
And the whole work on cd from Pianist Magazine vol 60 and purchased Leif Ove Andsnes version of it on Greig Lyric Pieces (EMI).
Biographies I have read:
I went to hear the Messiah by J.F. Handel. The performance, in the Usher Hall, was by The Edinburgh Royal Choral Union and The Orkney Festival Chorus accompanied by Edinburgh Pro Musica Orchestra. There were around 50 singers from Orkney including my paternal aunt, Sylvia Barnett. The conductor was Michael Bawtree: replacing Martyn Brabbins who had to call-off as he was ill. The soloists were Soprano, Mary Bevan; Mezzo-soprano, Madeleine Shaw; Tenor, Eamonn Mulhall (huband to Madeleine and last minute replacement for Nicholas Mulroy) and Baritone, Roland Wood. First Violin was Greg Lawson who gave an outstandingly virtuoso performance in the last Aria with Ms Bevan. The Hallelujah chorus was greatly enhanced by first trumpet, Mark O’Keefe. The orchestra never overpowered the choir or soloists. This was a very well balanced performance overall. Only a little more power from the Alto section could have improved it. Sadly I did not catch the name of the musician who replaced Mr Bawtree on the Harpsichord.
The Magic Flute was described as in singspiel or song play. Each character having their own leit motif. The music itself is based in Eb major but for the majority of the opera it is in the relative key of C minor. It does modulate in Act 2 to G, F, Bb and C major tonalities. Mozart uses trombones in his score which was a rarity in compositions of the time as trombones were
Composer Jonathan Harvey has died aged 73. That is younger than my Grandad. I did not know this morning when I was listening to his piece Mortuos Plango, vivos voco 1980 which I would like to hear again as it was intriguing. It had lots of dis-chordant passages, bells, vocals and electronic clips. I only discovered the news of his death as I was searching for information on him and his work through the www. RIP. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-20623756 for more info.