This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Here is more music that has caught my ears in recent times.
This will wake you up this Sunday morning, get your heart racing, toes tapping and generally wanting to start the day in a good mood. You may not even need coffee. The gentleman responsible is JOHANN JOSEPH FUX.
Jo was a composer during the late Baroque period. He was also a writer about music of considerable reputation. One of his works, still used today, is about the Palestinian style of Renaissance polyphony (see below).
The music today (and I wonder if he wrote the words himself) is Plaudite, Sonat Tuba, which is a Motet for Voice, Trumpet & Strings. It’s the second movement, and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that it’s called Alleluja, and is sung by JUAN DIEGO FLOREZ.
Early in his career, JOSEPH HAYDN wrote three symphonies called “Le Matin”, “Le Midi” and “Le Soir” (Morning, Noon and Night).
He went on to write more than a hundred symphonies, most much grander in scale and ideas, but these three are quite charming. Today I’d go for the middle one. To give it its official title, it’s the fourth movement of Symphony No. 7 in C Major.
Very little is known about CARLO CECERE which is a bit surprising as he lived in the eighteenth century, a time well documented, at least as far as composers are concerned.
He was probably a violinist, although some say he played the flute. He must have cocked an ear towards the mandolin as well, as several works for that instrument survive. This is one of them, the third movement for his Mandolin Concerto in A Major.
JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU was a leading musical theorist of the early eighteenth century.
He was also a leading French composer of operas and also music for the harpsichord. It’s noted that he was taught music at three years of age, before he could read or write (his dad was in the music biz).
Although very popular in his time, his music went out of fashion towards the end of the century, and was pretty much forgotten until revived during the twentieth century. From his Concerto Number 6 is the fourth movement, called, for some reason, L'Egyptienne.
GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA was born, quite fortuitously, in Palestrina near Rome. He was one of the most important composers of the Renaissance.
Gio studied in Rome and spent pretty much all his life in that city. He played organ and was musical director at a number of places around town during his life. He once thought of becoming a priest, but caught the eye of a wealthy widow and married her instead.
He left behind for us all hundreds of compositions, including 105 masses, 140 madrigals, more than 300 motets, hymns, offertories, Magnificats and a bunch of other things. One of those is the motet Sicut cervus. This is the second part of that performed by the Cambridge Singers.
JEAN-BAPTISTE BRÉVAL was a French cello player and composer.
The majority of his compositions involved the cello in some way or another. He was a member of the orchestra at the Paris Opera, and probably taught cello at the Paris Conservatoire. His music was certainly part of the curriculum at the time. This is one such, the Cello Sonata, Op. 12 No. 1, the third movement.
JOHANN JOACHIM QUANTZ was a flute maker, flute player and composer (predominantly for the flute).
He caught the ear of Frederick II of Prussia, himself an enthusiastic supporter of all things flute, because by all accounts, he was a pretty good flute player himself (Fred, that is, of course, who would tell him otherwise?) I’m probably dissing him too much there, as old Fred wrote music too, and his works are really fine.
Anyway, J-J must have been pretty good as well as he became Fred's resident flute person for more than 30 years. This is the third movement of JJ's Flute Concerto in G Major, QV 5-174.
GIOACHINO ROSSINI is best known as an opera composer, and probably even better known for the overtures to those: “The Thieving Magpie", "The Barber of Seville" and most especially "William Tell".
That’s not the only string to his bow (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). There are quite a few other works that really should be better known. Perhaps this will help a little.
I was pleasantly surprised by how good his string quartets are because he wrote them (all six of them) in three days when he was 12 years old. He called them string sonatas, perhaps because they were written for two violins, cello and double bass, rather than the standard quartet instruments. Here is the first movement of his ♫ String Sonata No.1 in G major.
CHARLES AVISON was an English composer as well as a writer and musical critic – he rather liked to disparage the works of Handel. Charlie spanned the Baroque and Classical periods.
That dichotomy is evident in his Concerto No.6 in D major where the two elements seem to be tugging in different directions. It makes for an interesting piece of music though. Here is the second movement.
I enjoy putting on a Gregorian Chant or other early polyphonic music. I just let my brain wander where it will, or read a book (I know, musical snobs say you shouldn’t do that, but I don’t care).
One album I’ve been listening to lately was recorded by Ensemble Gilles Binchois, a French group named after Gilles de Binche, one of the major composers of this sort of music from the early fifteenth century. This isn’t by him, it’s that most prolific composer, ANONYMOUS: Submersus jacet Pharao.
Something else from that very same composer, well sort of. We tend to associate the Baroque period of music with Europe, but there was a considerable amount of activity in the various countries of South America at the time as well. Certainly, Bolivia produced some interesting music, including this piece by that ubiquitous composer ANONYMOUS. Unfortunately, the percentage of anonymous works is higher here than in Europe. Here is the third movement of >em>Sonata “Chiquitana” No 4.