Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Three concerts in March

In March there are three concerts to choose from. Two feature the “Stabat Mater” by Pergolesi, and the third, Haydn’s “Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross”.
General information and program notes follow below:

Sunday, 13 March, 2005 at 7:00 pm

Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe
2215 Ross Avenue, Dallas, TX 75201, Tel. 214-871-1362

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi - Stabat Mater
(for Soprano, Alto, strings and Basso continuo)

The musicians:
Gyros String Quartet
*
with bassist Chris Pike and Brian Bentley, organ
Soprano - Lucy Creech
Mezzo Soprano - Natalie Arduino

Admission is free * Vesselin Demirev, Kurt Sprenger, violins, Norbert Gerl, viola, Mitch Maxwell, violoncello

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Monday, 21 March, 2005 at 7:00 pm

Prince of Peace Catholic Community
5100 W. Plano Parkway, Plano, TX 75093, Tel. 972-380-2100

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi - Stabat Mater
(for Soprano, Alto, strings and Basso continuo)

The musicians: Gyros String Quartet with bassist Chris Pike and Michael Conrady, organ
Soprano - Camille King
Alto - Tanya Deiter

Admission is free

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Maundy Thursday, 24 March, 2005 at 7:00 pm  

Lovers Lane United Methodist Church
9200 Inwood Road, Dallas, TX 75220

Franz Joseph Haydn - The Seven Last Words of Christ, Op. 51 (Hob. III:50-56)
(Arranged for String Quartet by the Composer)
First performance of the new and completely revised Urtext Edition

Admission is free
(For additional information, please contact Constantina Tsolainou, Director of Music at 214-706-9594)

Samples:
recorded live at Prince of Peace, Plano, Texas, 4 April, 2004

  1. Introduzione (unfortunately didn’t get recorded)
  2. Sonata I - mp3
  3. Sonata II - mp3
  4. Sonata III - mp3
  5. Sonata IV - mp3
  6. Sonata V - mp3
  7. Sonata VI - mp3
  8. Sonata VII - mp3
  9. Finale - mp3

Program Notes:

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710 - 1736)
Stabat Mater

1. Duet Grave
2. Aria (soprano) Andante amoroso
3. Duet Larghetto
4. Aria (contralto) Allegro
5. Duet Largo - Allegro
6. Aria (soprano) Tempo giusto
7. Aria (contralto) Andantino
8. Duet Allegro
9. Duet Tempo giusto
10. Aria (contralto) Largo
11. Duet Allegro
12. Duet Largo - presto


Death has cut short many composing careers, but to few has it come so cruelly soon as to Pergolesi. He was born and lived near Naples in Italy, in an age when Italy was a patchwork of small states. There was a thriving musical life in Naples at the time, and he entered the conservatory there in 1725. He worked for various patrons in the area, and spent the last two years of his life serving the Duke of Maddaloni. His productive career began at the age of twenty, and by twenty-six he was dead from tuberculosis.

Stabat Mater is a sequence of Latin verses composed by Jacobus de Benedictis in the 13th century, in commemoration of the sorrows of the Virgin Mary. There is a famous setting by Alessandro Scarlatti, another Neapolitan composer, written for womens' voices and strings in about 1700. It is believed that the Duke of Maddaloni commissioned Pergolesi's setting of the Stabat Mater, for the same forces, as a replacement for the Scarlatti work, which was becoming a little old fashioned for contemporary taste.

The work was a sensational success, as attested by the number of printed editions that appeared in rapid succession during the eighteenth century, and the number of manuscript copies still in existence in libraries around the world.

Pergolesi's Stabat Mater is innovative in the field of sacred music in the way it offers a very personal response to the religious experience. The setting is very beautiful, with much use of suspensions - blending one chord into another gradually, as opposed to clean harmony changes. This personal and emotional approach reached its climax in the great requiem of Giuseppi Verdi, 150 years later, and is quite alien to the austere North European approach of Buxtehude, Bach and others.

The words of the Stabat Mater are in two sections - the first part describes the anguish of Mary, standing at the foot of the cross on which her son was dying, while the latter part constitutes a prayer to the Virgin Mary. Pergolesi divides the work into twelve separate numbers.

1. Stabat Mater dolorosa, juxta crucem lacrimosa, dum pendebat Filius.
The sorrowing mother stands weeping, by the cross where her son hangs

2. Cujus animam gementem, contristatam et dolentem, pertransivit gladius.
A sword of shared sorrow and bitter anguish had pierced her heart

3. O quam tristis et afflicata, fuit illa benedicata, Mater Unigeniti.
O What sadness and affliction lay on the blessed Mother of the Lord

4. Quae moerebat et dolebat, Pia Mater, dum videbat nati poenas inclyti.
What grief and sorrow She suffered to see her glorious, dying son

5. Quis est homo qui non fleret, Christi Matrem si videret, in tanto supplicio?
Quis non posset contristari, Piam Matrem contemplari, dolentem cum Filio?
Pro peccatis Suae gentis, vidit Jesum in tormentis, et flagellis subditum.
Is there anyone who would not weep to see the Mother of Christ in such torment?
Is there anyone who could not share her pain?
She saw Jesus scourged and in torment for the sins of His people.

6. Vidit suum dulcem natum, morientem desolatum, dum emisit spiritum.
She saw her sweet son desolate and alone as his spirit passed away.

7. Eja Mater, fons amoris, me sentire vim doloris, fac, ut tecum lugeam.
O Mother, fount of love, touch my spirit with your feeling

8. Fac ut ardeat cor meum, in amando Christum Deum, ut sibi complaceam.
Make my heart glow with the love of Christ

9. Sancta Mater, istud agas, crucifixi fige plagas, cordi meo valide.
Tui Nati vulnerati, tam digati pro me patipoenas mecum divide.
Fac me vere tecum flere, crucifixo condolere, donec ego vixero.
Juxta crucem tecum stare, te libenter sociare, in plancu desidero.
Virgo virginum praeclara, mihi jam non sis amara, fac me tecum plangere.
Holy Mother, fix in my heart the wounds Christ suffered on the cross
Let me share His pain with You, He who loved me so
Let me share your tears, mourning Him who died for me
By the cross with You to weep and pray is all I ask
Greatest of all virgins, let me share your divine grief

10. Fac ut portem Christi mortem, passionis fac consortem. et plagas recolere.
Fac me plagis vulnerari, cruce hac inebriari, ob amorem Filii.
Let me remember Christ's suffering and death on the cross
And let my heart be warmed with the blood He shed for us

11. Inflammatus et accensus, per te, Virgo, sim defensus, in die judicii.
Fac me cruce custodiri, morte Christi premuniri, confoveri gratia.
Defend me, O virgin, from the flames of the day of judgement
When Christ calls me to Him, be my defence and guide

12. Quando corpus morietur, fac ut animae donetur, paradisi gloria! Amen.
While my body dies, may my soul be with you in paradise! Amen

[Most English translations of the Stabat Mater are very flowery and wordy. The version given here is neither ornate nor absolutely literal, but is intended to convey the general meaning of the original.]

Notes by Peter Brien

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Program Notes:

Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross

In 1785 or '86 Haydn, a devout Catholic, received a commission from the cathedral in Cádiz. He was asked to provide descriptive orchestral interludes between the spoken parts of the service in the great Spanish Baroque church during Holy Week, presumably on Good Friday. In 1787, the year in which it was first performed, he transcribed the work for string quartet to give it wider currency, and eventually, in 1795-96, he made a choral version which was published in 1801. In the preface to that score, Haydn wrote:

“Some fifteen years ago I was requested by a canon of Cádiz to compose instrumental music on the seven last words of Our Savior on the Cross. It was customary at the Cathedral of Cádiz to produce an oratorio every year during Lent, the effect of the performance being not a little enhanced by the following circumstances. The walls, windows, and pillars of the church were hung with black cloth, and only one large lamp hanging from the center of the roof broke the solemn darkness. At midday, the doors were closed and the ceremony began. After a short service the bishop ascended the pulpit, pronounced the first of the seven words (or sentences) and delivered a discourse thereon. This ended, he left the pulpit and fell to his knees before the altar. The interval was filled by music. The bishop then in like manner pronounced the second word, then the third, and so on, the orchestra following on the conclusion of each discourse. My composition was subject to these conditions, and it was no easy task to compose seven adagios lasting ten minutes each, and to succeed one another without fatiguing the listeners.”

This masterpiece was conceived in a spirit of profound religious conviction. Despite its length and emotional urgency, it is a model of simplicity and sophistication. Above all, Haydn wanted it to be accessible to everybody, regardless of one’s musical or religious background. He wrote: “Each sonata, or movement, is expressed by purely instrumental music in such a way that even the most uninitiated listener will be moved to the very depths of his soul.”

In the hands of a mere four string players, this music cannot achieve the volume and tonal diversity of a symphony orchestra or choir. Nevertheless in the four-voice setting, with only one instrument on a part, it is imbued with a heightened intimacy which larger ensembles cannot possibly match. This music’s emotional and psychological impact is best conveyed through the most subtle variations of timbre, voicing, rhythm, and tempo – techniques ideally suited to a string quartet. Therefore this simplest of all versions may indeed be the most affecting. No less compelling than its more grandiose cousins, it is inherently more personal.

Haydn considered this to be one of his greatest works. But to hear the music by itself, however powerfully it stands alone, is to experience it in only part of its glory. Reunited with the words that served as its inspiration, it takes on a spiritual dimension rarely found in even the most profound compositions. Though its message is decidedly Christian, it transcends the focus of any particular faith. This is music which cuts across religious and social lines and speaks sincerely, eloquently, and passionately to everyone, via the common denominator that exists in the soul of all humanity.The diverse versions of "The Seven Words" have each had their lobby amongst Haydn scholars who have long-debated the merits of the original orchestral score versus the vocal arrangement, the string quartet and the piano arrangement. Today the string quartet - first performed in Vienna on St Cecilia's Day 1787 - is the version heard most often. It is also interesting to notice that the work was already being performed in America in 1793.


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