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Thread: Rossini "Stabat Mater"

  1. #1
    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    Default Rossini "Stabat Mater"

    Another season, another rehearsal diary.

    Our orchestra chorus started work last night on Stabat Mater, a vocal work in ten movements. The chorus is scored for 5 of the movements. The piece also included four soloists, one for each vocal part.

    Last night we did sightreading on mvt 1 Stabat Mater, mvt 5 Eja, Mater, and mvt 10 In sempiterna, which is a wonderful fugue.

    Our director advised us to use the resources of Cyberbass rather than any one recorded performance to learn our parts. But it's OK to listen to multiple performances; just don't get fixated on one. I'm open for suggestions...



    Our score is clearly marked (2nd Version - 1841) which prompted me to look up the composition history of the piece. From Wiki:

    In 1831 Rossini was traveling in Spain in the company of his friend the Spanish banker, Alexandre Aguado, owner of Château Margaux. In the course of the trip, Fernández Varela, a state councillor, commissioned a setting of the traditional liturgical text, the Stabat Mater. Rossini managed to complete part of the setting of the sequence in 1832, but ill-health made it impossible for him to complete the commission. Having written only half the score (nos. 1 and 5-9), he asked his friend Giovanni Tadolini to compose six additional movements. Rossini presented the completed work to Varela as his own. It was premiered on Holy Saturday of 1833 in the Chapel of San Felipe el Real in Madrid, but this version was never again performed.

    When Varela died, his heirs sold the work for 2,000 francs to a Parisian music publisher, Antoine Aulagnier, who printed it. Rossini protested, claiming that he had reserved publication rights for himself, and disowned Aulagnier's version, since it included the music by Tadolini. Although surprised by this, Aulangier went ahead and arranged for a public performance at the Salle Herz on October 31, 1841, at which only the six pieces by Rossini were performed. In fact, Rossini had already sold the publication rights for 6,000 francs to another Paris publisher, Eugène Troupenas. Lawsuits ensued, and Troupenas emerged the victor. Rossini finished the work, replacing the music by Tadolini, before the end of 1841. The brothers Léon and Marie Escudier, who had purchased the performing rights of Rossini's final version of the score from Troupenas for 8,000 francs, sold them to the director of the Théâtre-Italien for 20,000 francs, who began making preparations for its first performance.

    Rossini's extensive operatic career had divided the public into admirers and critics. The announcement of the premiere of Rossini's Stabat Mater provided an occasion for a wide-ranging attack by Richard Wagner, who was in Paris at the time, not only on Rossini but more generally on the current European fashion for religious music and the money to be made from it. A week before the scheduled concert Robert Schumann's Neue Zeitschrift für Musik carried the pseudonymous essay, penned by Wagner under the name of "H. Valentino", in which he claimed to find Rossini's popularity incomprehensible:

    "It is extraordinary! So long as this man lives, he'll always be the mode." Wagner concluded his polemic with the following observation: "That dreadful word: Copyright—growls through the scarce laid breezes. Action! Action! Once more, Action! And money is fetched out, to pay the best of lawyers, to get documents produced, to enter caveats.— — —O ye foolish people, have ye lost your hiking for your gold? I know somebody who for five francs will make you five waltzes, each of them better than that misery of the wealthy master's!"

    At the time when Wagner wrote this, he was still in his late twenties and he had not yet had much success with the acceptance of his own music in the French capital.
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    There are some wonderful recordings of this quite significant in Rossini's output work. I can confine my self to 2 recent and 2 older ones:
    - The most recent and with some mixed reviews is the one with Anna Netrebko and Joyce Di Donato as the two female soloists, with Pappano conducting, on EMI. Not very impressed, but I found it is very well recorded and as for the female parts, the Orchestra and the Chorus well served.
    - The older but secure recording of Chandos with the late Hickox and some quite solid soloists (Della Jones, the alto, and Arthur Davies, the tenor).
    - The even older recording of Riccardo Muti, on EMI too, with Malfitano and Baltsa (in the female parts). Muti is always exciting and a good bet for Italian music and he delivers here quite well.
    - The superb legendary recording of mid-sixties by Decca, with a stellar cast (Lorengar, Minton, a young and bright Pavarotti and Hans Sotin, with LSO under Istvan Kertesz). For me, by far the best recording of the work with all the parts very well to brilliantly served. The recording is still vibrant and convincing.
    I hope it can be of some help for your further appreciation and preparation of this quite interesting and too Italian Choral work.

    Principe
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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    We started this week's rehearsal with tuning exercises. Our director stated that this is the best-tuned choir he's yet had at this point in the season; maybe because we did extensive tuning exercises in warm-ups all last year? We rehearsed mvts 1, 5, and 9.

    We started Mvt 1, which has a rocking 6/8 (as in ..bye baby, not Led Zeppelin) feel to it, by singing our parts with "one, two, tee, four, five, six." Then we added the Latin. The score has several "fooler" measures where one measure takes up an entire stave. We had to get used to this (this is to accommodate the piano reduction). This movement alternates between chorus and 4-part soloists.

    We ran through Mvt 5 with the same strategy. Mvt. 5 is a chorus recitative with a bass soloist, in common time with several measures of 6/8 stuck in for variety.

    Mvt 9 is a cappella. Our director said it has not yet been decided whether this will be performed with a select group or the entire chorus, so we are all rehearsing it. It will be very rubato. We added several tempo markings.

    I was not successful using the Cyberbass website for practice at home so I'll be using the piano
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibr...e/wagrosst.htm

    A link to the aforementioned polemic by Richard Wagner. Warning: It involves a certain amount of pastry-eating.

    In last night's rehearsal, our director had us mark our scores with the rehearsal numbers from the orchestral score, because they are not the same. After warmups, we divided into sectionals, men and women, to work on movement 10, the fugue.

    Using count-singing, we women worked our way through the fugue led by the asst director, paying special attention to phrasing. In her words, "We want to allow a lot of light and space, and not make the texture dense." Considering we were rehearsing at about 1/2 speed, there was plenty of space to be had. We also focused on certain phrases which had "unexpected intervals."

    After about an hour, we joined back together with the men and ran the entire movement. Our director had pre-marked our (copied) scores with a bit of the structure of the fugue, indicating the leading voices. He explained a bit more about the structure, showing us the subject (key of Gm), answer (key of D, the dominant), and the countersubject. The development starts at measure 30 in stretto form, working its way in initial tones down the Gm scale to B flat), with entrances separated by only 1/2 measure and alternating between the soprano, alto, and tenor lines.
    (If I got any of this wrong, it is my fault, because he certainly knows what he was talking about.)

    I am interested in a structural analysis of this fugue if someone can point me to a source. I was unable to find one via Google.

    This week, I intend to nail down my part in this fugue via practice at my piano.
    Last edited by Lunasong; Sep-19-2012 at 15:25.
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    Last night during our warmup our director introduced a new exercise which purpose is to help smooth out our long melismatic phrases.

    We began rehearsal by looking over the brief vocal parts for Berlioz's "Royal Hunt and Storm" from Les Troyens, where the chorus sings for 35 measures in a ten-minute piece. The vocal parts are marked as Nymphes (Soprani & Contralti), Sylvanes (Tenori), and Faunes (Bassi). We sing the scintillating lyrics:

    A-O A-O A-O--Italie! Ha! Ha! O-A O-A O-A.....!

    YouTube link. Vocals start at 7:00. As in all "hunt" pieces, this one has a very nice horn solo.
    We will be performing this piece on the same program as Stabat Mater.

    We rehearsed the Stabat Mater Fugue again in the following steps.
    1. Ran all the way through all four parts together count-singing at less than full speed.
    2. Focused on each part separately (SATB). Focused part sang "da" whilst other parts count sang. Thus, x4.
    3. Sang all parts together count singing at full speed (♩ = 132)
    4. Sang all parts together using "da" (surprisingly more difficult than count singing) at full speed.
    5. Sang all parts together using lyrics In sempiterna sæcula, amen.
    YouTube link, Fugue only.

    I was glad that I had taken the time during the week to practice my part on the piano. As I mentioned, the fugue is highly melismatic and, based on my experience with step 5, I'm going to mark in my part where the syllable changes as an aid to rehearsal.
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Senior Member Vaneyes's Avatar
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    Lunasong, I look forward to reading more of your vocal adventures. Break another leg.
    My favorite rec. is, ROSSINI: Stabat Mater. Katia Ricciarelli, Lucia Valentini-Terrani, Dalmacio Gonzales, Ruggero Raimondi, Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus / Carlo Maria Giulini. (DG, rec. 1981/82)

    0028941003423d_medium.jpg
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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    Thank you, Vaneyes. I write these mostly for my own benefit but it's nice to see other people read them as well, and might learn a bit about the process behind an amateur chorus that performs with a professional orchestra. Sticks and Drones stated it well in this post:
    One of the most challenging problems for orchestras in today’s world is the perception of a disconnect between orchestras and audiences, whether this is real or not. If it is real, then the problem with the professional choir is that it puts yet one more barrier between orchestras and their constituency. Why? Because singing in a choir is the one and only way Joe Shmoe can actively participate with his local symphony.

    One of the reasons I am in this chorus is because it is another way, besides donations and attendance, I can support my city's orchestra.

    After warmups, this week we again split into men and women sectionals to rehearse mvts. 5 Eja mater and 8 Imflammatus et accensus.

    Eja Mater is an unaccompanied bass and chorus recitative. We ran through it several times using count singing.

    Inflammatus et accensus is a soprano aria with chorus. It has several sections where the parts are singing in unison, which is nice, but presents its own demands for precision in diction and note value.

    We women also ran through the fugue again in our sectional. The men did not get this far but, in their defense, they have subdivided parts in mvt 5.

    Joining together after the break, we rehearsed mvt 5 using count singing. Our director spent about 10 minutes reviewing the 6/8 passages (occurs 2x) In amando Christum Deum with the sopranos. He used the metaphor of going up and down stairs when moving up and down pitches. When one is going upstairs, she raises her foot above the level of the step and then lowers it. Likewise, when making a jump to an upper pitch, it's best to mentally overshoot and land lightly on the pitch. When going downstairs, one anticipates where the level of the step will be and lowers her foot appropriately. The same applies when moving down pitches to keep from going flat.

    There is a subtle difference between the first and second entrances in 4/4 after the 6/8 passages. The first uses a major third with the chorus in unison on A on the longest held note (ut sibi complaceam and the second is a minor third on A flat to create a different modulation (first phrase ends on A major chord, the second on A flat major). Getting this note right sets up the whole phrase.

    I think our basses have the dynamics of their first entrance soli part nailed. Very nicely done!
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    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    We spent our entire rehearsal on mvt 9 Quando corpus, which is an a capella "quartet," but current plans are to have the entire chorus (~120) sing. This will require precise diction, rhythm, and pitch.

    Our warm-up consisted of an extensive tuning exercise using half steps. Tuning in vocal music is done on the vowel and, in a large group, correct formation and matching of vowel sounds is required. Vowel match is one element that sets great choirs apart from good choirs. The purpose of this exercise soon became apparent as we opened our scores to Mvt. 9.



    Here's the opening bass line, which is repeated by three of the four voices within the first 13 measures. Note the downward moving pitch line in tiny 1/2 steps, interspersed with a downward interval jump. The trick here is to move downward in pitch without going flat. On a "du" syllable, we practiced the line without the interval jump, then alternated singing the line without the interval jump while another part sang the interval note only. Even the repeated pitches were a challenge to sing in tune.

    We then broke into sectionals, men and women, for an hour. Our women's sectional was led by the director, who concentrated again on precision in tuning and rhythm, as additional themes also use this downward movement in pitch. Then we added in the actual lyric. We only got about halfway through the piece before being rejoined by the men. In the last half-hour of practice together, we again only got about halfway through the piece.
    I just practiced the rest at home to a YouTube video; it will be okay. I hope. The remaining themes are the same or similar.

    ps I like the piano reductions for this mvt and Mvt 5 (also a capella, because I can play them on the piano.
    Orchestra reductions...
    Vocal reductions of a cappela scores also make for a complete-sounding piece to enjoy playing at home.
    Last edited by Lunasong; Oct-10-2012 at 20:19. Reason: clarity
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    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    Lunasong, I am enjoying reading about your progress and am in awe of what you guys are doing. It's so interesting for a non-professional like me to read how it's evolving.

    I have to confess I don't know this music at all but after reading this & on principe's recommendation I've just ordered the Kertész.

    Good luck.
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    Annie

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    Sospiro, I'm also a non-professional. As noted in post #7, this is a great way for anyone who can carry a tune and wants to learn more to get involved with their local orchestra. Many professional orchestras have non-professional choruses.
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    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunasong View Post
    Sospiro, I'm also a non-professional. As noted in post #7, this is a great way for anyone who can carry a tune and wants to learn more to get involved with their local orchestra. Many professional orchestras have non-professional choruses.
    I don't think I can even carry a tune

    However getting to know the CD whilst reading up your notes is going to make the experience twice as enjoyable
    Annie

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    After an uncharacteristically short warm-up, we rehearsed all five movements last night. The director was trying to get us out in time to see/hear the US presidential debate, so no break either.

    Some of these we had not covered in several weeks. Some of these we had only count-sung. Results were a "bit" uneven.

    Mvt 1 Stabat Mater. I have my score highlighted for the tutti parts because the quartet soloists and choir parts are written on the same staves. Forbid that I should lose focus and sing a solo part! Emphasis was on the end of the piece; singing the detached dum pen-de-bat like a plucked string, all together with attention on the conductor.

    Mvt 5 Eja Mater. This is an unaccompanied movement and the basses lead, getting their note as a fourth above the ending chord of the 4th mvt. We screwed up the tonal differences between the first and second occurrences of the unison phrases (post #7 and the ff "Fac ut ardeat cor meum, in amando Christum Deum".

    Mvt 8 Inflammatus. We really had done very little work on this movement besides count-singing, and it showed. We had not rehearsed coming in after the soprano soloist starts; we had not reviewed the Latin text. Weak!

    Mvt 9 Quando corpus. Sounds pretty good; of course we worked on this last week. Muddled through the unrehearsed ending adequately. Again unaccompanied and started by the basses; this time they have to find the fifth.

    Mvt 10 In sempiterna. At tempo, this is a beast but oh so fun to sing. I can't say I got every little note right yet.

    In conclusion, this rehearsal identified some of my weaknesses which I shall address this week. I went ahead and highlighted the beginning staff of my part in each of the systems so that I can unerringly find my part. I'll also review all Latin and listen to all the movements while reviewing my score. My score is quickly becoming an interesting summation of all our rehearsals with the notes I am taking.
    Last edited by Lunasong; Oct-17-2012 at 19:26.
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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    I recently got this & listened on my way to work this morning.



    I have the Pappano already & don't know which I prefer.



    However reading through your rehearsal notes has made such a huge difference to my understanding of the piece. I look forward to your updates!
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    Annie

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    Tonight I learned that Saverio Mercadante, a composer introduced to me by Delicious Manager, wrote a paraphrase titled Fantasia (Sinfonia) su motivi dello Stabat Mater di Rossini. Take a listen; you will hear several familiar themes.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXdJj1Pibn4
    Rossini premiered his second version of Stabat Mater in Paris Jan 1842. Also in 1842, Gaetano Donizetti conducted the premiere of Rossini’s Stabat Mater in Bologna, Italy. Mercadante premiered "Fantasia" in 1844.


    Now I have a mystery.
    Music Timeline states a third version of Rossini's Stabat Mater premiered in Paris Nov 1844. I was unable to find any additional info. Does anyone have the scoop?
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Senior Member Vaneyes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunasong View Post
    ....Now I have a mystery.
    Music Timeline states a third version of Rossini's Stabat Mater premiered in Paris Nov 1844. I was unable to find any additional info. Does anyone have the scoop?
    Mistake, rather than mystery.

    For reference...

    http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/mal/sum...4.everist.html

    http://tinyurl.com/d8arhll

    http://www.orsymphony.org/concerts/0...otes/cl11.aspx

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