Mesocosm

"Segne den Becher, welcher überfließen will, daß das Wasser golden aus ihm fließe und überallhin den Abglanz deiner Wonne trage!" – Nietzsche

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Bola: Vespers

leave a comment »

For my money, Bola is one of the greatest electronic music artists. Check out this 2002 demo, “Vespers.” The video is gorgeous, too.

 
 

Advertisements

Written by Mesocosm

September 5, 2012 at 11:03 am

Posted in Ephemera, Music

Tagged with ,

Christopher Lee’s Charlemagne Rock Opera is What

leave a comment »

Thank you, BoingBoing, for reminding me that Christopher Lee has created a rock opera based on the life of Charlemagne. It appears to be a faithful account of the life of the Frankish ruler.

 
Here’s a picture of me standing at the spot in St. Peter’s in Rome where Charlemagne was crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III in 800 CE. Dusty after a long day of touring the Forum!

I also had the opportunity to visit his Romanesque cathedral at Aachen, where he is interred.

Charlemagne at Aachen

Written by Mesocosm

August 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Ephemera, Music

Tagged with , ,

Fifty Shades of Huh?

leave a comment »

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite compositions from the Renaissance is Thomas Tallis’ miraculous forty-part motet “Spem in Alium.” My favorite performance is by the infallible Renaissance choir The Tallis Scholars.

The Tallis Scholars have recently been reporting on their Facebook fan page that their 27-year-old recording of “Spem in Alium” was poised to take the number one spot on the best-selling classical single chart in the UK. I’ve watched with considerable surprise and pleasure to see them hit the number one spot first in the US and then in the UK.

What accounts for this sudden, inexplicable attention? you may ask. I was equally amazed and appalled to learn that their new-found success has been driven by the bondage-themed mega-thriller Fifty Shades of Grey. Apparently the book’s heroine enjoys some light spanking while “lost in the astral, seraphic voices.”

The Guardian has the story here.

Written by Mesocosm

July 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Arvo Pärt and György Ligeti

leave a comment »

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is perhaps best known for the beautiful, spare minimalism of pieces like “Spiegel im Spiegel”. He also makes a strong case for incorporating influences from pre-Baroque early music, echoing techniques of the old polyphonic masters with a novel sense of style.

One of my favorite works of his is a short composition called “Solfeggio,” after the pitch collection “Do Re Mi.” It’s deceptively simple in concept: a choir slowly sings the eponymous diatonic scale, arranged in different octaves. The effect, in the words of the composer, is rather like light passing into water.

 
Yesterday my friend Erik Davis called out an interesting review he wrote of György Ligeti’s Requiem, and it got me thinking about that interesting composer. Browsing around the internet I stumbled by chance onto Ligeti’s magnificent “Lux Aeterna,” which strikes me as being of a kind with Pärt’s “Solfeggio.”

 
This marvelous performance is found on the album Lux Aeterna by Capella Amsterdam, which includes other works by Ligetti in a similarly-subdued palette, as well as choral works by Robert Heppener. Highly recommended.

Written by Mesocosm

May 31, 2012 at 10:38 am

Delicious

leave a comment »

Written by Mesocosm

April 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Posted in Ephemera, Music

Tagged with

Ah, Robin

leave a comment »

A madrigal by William Cornysh, performed by the Tallis Scholars.

Ah, Robin, gentle, Robin,
Tell me how thy leman* doth
and thou shalt know of mine.

    My lady is unkind I wis,
    Alack why is she so?
    She lov’th another better than me,
    and yet she will say no.

Ah, Robin, gentle, Robin,
Tell me how thy leman doth
and thou shalt know of mine.

    I cannot think such doubleness
    for I find women true,
    In faith my lady lov’th me well
    she will change for no new.

Ah, Robin, gentle, Robin,
Tell me how thy leman doth
and thou shalt know of mine.

*leman = sweetheart

Written by Mesocosm

March 24, 2012 at 9:40 am

Posted in Ephemera, Music

Tagged with , ,

Hildegard von Bingen to be made Doctor of the Church

leave a comment »

Hildegard

Hildegard von Bingen
Click for Full Image.

And once again I heard a voice from heaven instructing me. And it said, “Write down what I tell you.” – Hildegard von Bingen

In December, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI announced his intention to canonize the Benedictine abbess Hildegard von Bingen and to appoint her a Doctor of the Church in October of 2012.

A Doctorship is regarded by the Catholic Church as one of the highest honors it can bestow. The title recognizes individuals for special contributions to theology or doctrine. There are currently only 34 Doctors of the Church, including distinguished luminaries such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and John of the Cross.

Only three woman have been so honored: Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Sienna, and Thérèse de Lisieux. The first woman to be named a doctor of the church, Teresa of Avila, was recognized in 1970. Hildegard von Bingen will be the fourth woman doctor to be designated in a row.

Hildegard (born in Bermersheimin 1098; died in Rupertsberg, 17 Sept 1179) was famous in her day as a mystic whose visions were widely known through a popular series of written testimonies. She began having religious visions at the age of 5, and she was presented by her family to a Benedictine order at the age of 14. She received approval from the church to begin writing down her visions with the aid of her assistant Volmar in 1141, at the age of 43.

Hildegard earned an unusually high stature as a mystic, which was one of the few avenues by which women in the Middle Ages could achieve authority within the Catholic Church. Her fame made her an object of veneration, and she was a sought-after correspondent and adviser to some of the most important political and religious figures of her day, including famed theologian Bernard of Clairvaux and Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa, who offered her recognition and protection when she founded her own abbey.

A campaign seeking her canonization began in 1223, but was it rejected by Pope Gregory IX, and later by Pope Innocent IV. In 1940, her feast day was officially approved for all Catholics, reflecting her continuing popularity. (1)

Hildegard is known by many today as a composer of early church music, which has been popularized by excellent recordings by artists including Anonymous 4 and Sequentia.

Her monophonic composition is highly original and greatly affecting, employing idiosyncratic modal variations, not drawn from Plainchant, but personally devised to offer a musical commentary on the contemplative themes of her texts. The intimate dialog between her music and texts is perhaps most evident in her musical drama Ordo Virtutum, which dramatizes the Soul’s struggle with the Devil, aided by a series of Virtues. It is the earliest-known morality play of the Middle Ages.

The following excerpt from her testimony Book of Divine Works is typical of her style. It relates an encounter from one of her visions:

I am Love, the splendor of the living God. Wisdom has influenced me, and the humility rooted in the living fountain is my helper. Peace is associated with humility. Through the splendor that is my essence, the living light of the blissful angels shines. For just as a ray of light shines, this splendor shines for the blissful angels. It could hardly keep from shining, for there can be no light that does not shine. I have designed the human species, which has its roots in me like a shadow, just as one can see the shadow of every object in water. And so I am a living fountain because all creation is like a shadow within myself. As regards this shadow, the human species is formed from fire and water, just as I am both ‘fire’ and ‘living water.’ The human species has within its soul the ability to arrange everything according to its own wish. (2)

As with her lyrics, her prose is characterized by schematic, didactic allegory, which is periodically illuminated by moments of lucid, lyrical power.

References

(1) “Hildegard of Bingen.” New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
(2) Hildegard of Bingen, ed. by Matthew Fox. Book of Divine Works. Bear & Co. 1987.

Written by Mesocosm

December 18, 2011 at 9:45 pm