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Thread: For love of the Baroque...

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    This is a recording of the Biber Mystery Sonatas with readings. Does anyone know what the readings are exactly, where are they taken from? I can't find anything on the web.
    I can add a little to what Ingélou has said.

    AFAIK they are taken from the images and psalter texts pasted into the manuscript of the sonatas. See the BBC review of the CD. This superbly detailed thesis - https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/...24/MQ50576.pdf - confirms this and which describes a possible performance of the sonatas in the chapel of Archbishop Maxirnilian where the Holy Cross fraternity met. In addition to the readings, there were also devotional pictures on the wall to encourage contemplation of the mysteries of the rosary.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Well done for finding this information you two, much appreciated. You’re much better than I am at using the web!

    I’m interested for this reason. I think there are two ways to play the music. You can either see it as mimetic, a sound picture of the events described in the stories of Christ’s life. Or you can see it as affective - music designed to evoke a mood suitable for a meditation on the relevant Gospel events. I’m trying to make sense of which, if any, of these approaches, Beznosiuk has adopted.

    If the readings are genuinely “authentic “, that’s to say, the things someone using the sonatas as an aid to meditation in Biber’s time would probably have been aware of, then they are a potentially valuable tool for understanding performance.

    Normally I don’t like readings either, by the way. But here, they’re very well done and are at least bearable, at least once! It may well be that these sonatas really are best listened to all at once while thinking of the rosary, that’s the hard core real deal! And this may be a good recording to try that out - at least for someone like me who speaks English and who isn’t a catholic - I really know nothing about the rosary.

    The recording by the way is restrained. When I first heard it I said to myself that anyone who likes Fretwork would like it, there’s something rather English gentleman about what they do. It was in Sonata 8, about the crown of thorns, where I thought I sensed a mismatch between the feelings and ideas of the reading and the performance - though I could be very wrong about that, only listened once - but that’s what started me on this quest.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jan-03-2019 at 18:29.

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    Senior Member RICK RIEKERT's Avatar
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    Pavlo Beznosiuk was looking for a new way to present the Biber sonatas, 'a new twist' were his words, so he went to the British museum and found the 3 rosary psalters from which West reads in the recording.

    The manuscript of the sonatas has no title page, so the various titles in use today derive from the fifteen engravings in the manuscript, one placed at the start of each of the first fifteen compositions depicting, in turn, the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. Similarly, the concluding Passacaglia is preceded by a drawing of a Guardian Angel holding the hand of a child. The engravings were probably cut from a Rosary psalter, the name given to the hundreds of devotional books published by Rosary confraternities active in central Europe at the time. These books contained detailed instruction on praying the Rosary, and frequently included biblical quotations, meditations, prayers, and engravings depicting the mysteries. Such books were produced by the Jesuits-a religious order who influenced education and devotional practices more than any other religious group in seventeenth-century Europe-and who were known for advocating Rosary devotion with music. As Biber mentions in the Latin dedication of the Rosary Sonatas, Rosary devotion was promoted most ardently by the dedicatee of the collection and Biber's employer, Archbishop Maximilian Gandolph von Khuenberg. The engravings in Biber's manuscript and Rosary psalters show the importance of imagery in Rosary devotion in the region at this time, which correlates with a principal concept of Jesuit devotion, namely, the use all five senses when praying. Thus, by contemplating the image, reading the texts, and hearing the music, individuals were supposed to create a mental picture of the mystery, often in minute detail and at great length.

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    Thank you Rick. I wonder how standardised rosary psalters were.

    In the reading for sonata 8, The Crown of Thorns, after Timothy West has described how Jesus was mocked, we're asked to reflect on Mary's distress, her sorrow, on seeing her son treated like this. This reflection on Mary was what I couldn't hear in the music, either as a picture or as a mood. But as I say, I only listened once.

    If you can get it, Gunar Letzbor has written an essay for the booklet for his recording of these sonatas where he talks about how his interpretations were inspired partly by the images in the manuscript.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jan-03-2019 at 18:21.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    I’m interested for this reason. I think there are two ways to play the music. You can either see it as mimetic, a sound picture of the events described in the stories of Christ’s life. Or you can see it as affective - music designed to evoke a mood suitable for a meditation on the relevant Gospel events. I’m trying to make sense of which, if any, of these approaches, Beznosiuk has adopted.

    But does it have to be either/or? When I'm listening to the Mystery of the Scourging, for example, the mimicking of the strokes and the dramatic & yet tender way that it's played (on the Bizzarrie Armoniche CD) heighten my emotional response.
    Last edited by Ingélou; Jan-03-2019 at 18:57.
    ~ Mollie ~
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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Rosary psalters were very common and became almost standardised in the 17th century.

    The reading for sonata 8 looks as if it is borrowed from another popular devotion - the Stations of the Cross. The most common version used is the 18th century prayers composed by Alphonsus Liguori where station 4 has a meeting between Jesus and his mother on the way to calvary. The meditation is

    Consider how the Son met his Mother on His way to Calvary. Jesus and Mary gazed at each other and their looks became as so many arrows to wound those hearts which loved each other so tenderly.

    My most loving Jesus, by the pain You suffered in this meeting grant me the grace of being truly devoted to Your most holy Mother. And You, my Queen, who was overwhelmed with sorrow, obtain for me by Your prayers a tender and a lasting remembrance of the passion of Your divine Son.
    This is similar in sprit to the much earlier Stabat Mater where Mary stands at the foot of the cross observing the sufferings of her son.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingélou View Post
    But does it have to be either/or?
    No, and there may be other ways too. But there should be, I think, some relationship between what the music's doing and ideas in the rosary. There's another piece of music which prima facie is like the Mystery Sonatas, by Kuhnau, called the Biblical Sonatas. I'm not sure whether the resemblance is just superficial. And in truth I'm not sure what Kuhnau was doing either -- painting pictures, moods or what.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jan-03-2019 at 19:35.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taggart View Post
    Rosary psalters were very common and became almost standardised in the 17th century.

    The reading for sonata 8 looks as if it is borrowed from another popular devotion - the Stations of the Cross. The most common version used is the 18th century prayers composed by Alphonsus Liguori where station 4 has a meeting between Jesus and his mother on the way to calvary. The meditation is



    This is similar in sprit to the much earlier Stabat Mater where Mary stands at the foot of the cross observing the sufferings of her son.
    Yes, like a pre echo of the Stabat Mater. Whether it's relevant to the music or not, that's the question! I find it rather difficult to match the mood of sonata 8 with the mood of the stabat mater, at least in most performances!
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jan-03-2019 at 19:35.

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    81t4hmOOrKL._SY355_.jpg

    One reason I’m specially enjoying this one is that it’s expressive throughout the sonatas, even the quick movements and the variations in the sorrowful sonatas for example, seem to fit the mood of the rosary concept I think. From that point of view it’s very special. In addition the balance of violin and organ is revealing, more equal than you might expect. And the relative austerity if the instrumentation seems to me to make it more listenable over the long term, and more meditative - less about effects and more about feelings and ideas,

    .

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    Four sets of sprightly dance suites written to entertain an ageing Louis XIV. They were published in 1722 without indication of instrumentation; therefore, the same piece can be played by solo harpsichord or by an ensemble with a bass instrument, a violin, a viol, and an oboe or a flute. These are delightfully played by Jordi Savll, on bass viol, and and his outstanding players who make this graceful music irresistible.
    Last edited by Taggart; Jan-06-2019 at 13:24.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taggart View Post


    Four sets of sprightly dance suites written to entertain an ageing Louis XIV. They were published in 1722 without indication of instrumentation; therefore, the same piece can be played by solo harpsichord or by an ensemble with a bass instrument, a violin, a viol, and an oboe or a flute. These are delightfully played by Jordi Savll, on bass viol, and and his outstanding players who make this graceful music irresistible.
    That is the only Couperin cd I like.

    Captain Savall and his crew also recorded these works:

    CouperinSavall.jpg
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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    Senior Member Ras's Avatar
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    They ought to give Jordi Savall the nobel prize for music.
    Did he receive some prize like that?
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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    81ncNb3iZkL._SX450_.jpg
    Downloaded just now and listening. I consider CPE Bach to lean more towards baroque than classicism, and like everything I hear

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ras View Post
    They ought to give Jordi Savall the nobel prize for music.
    Did he receive some prize like that?
    See wiki for details of his awards. He's Catalan and proud of it and supported by the Catalan (local) Government which is why he turned down the Spanish award in 2014.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taggart View Post
    See wiki for details of his awards. He's Catalan and proud of it and supported by the Catalan (local) Government which is why he turned down the Spanish award in 2014.
    As a Dane I'm proud to see that Savall received the Danish Sonning Prize in 2012.

    Wow, that's a long discography listed right below the awards...
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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