Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Recommended Posts

Not really about organs, but some forum members may be interested.

 

Quite by accident I stumbled on the first programme in the new TV series "Sacred Music" charting the development of choral polyphony (with the help of The Sixteen). This evening's programme kicked off with plainsong and the Notre Dame school (Leonin, Perotin et al.) and was really excellent. If the rest of the series is up to this standard it will be well worth watching. The programme is available for the next six days on iPlayer.

 

Next week's programme will feature Palestrina.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I only saw the first half (before leaving to collect someone from a performance of Stainer's Crucifixion) but what I saw was wonderful. Three cheers to the BBC for granting this subject such lavish production values.

 

J

 

(On the subject of Sacred Music generally - does anyone else find Sanders' Reproaches a perfect blend of words and music? I was close to tears this (Good Friday) morning. It always does that to me.)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Not really about organs, but some forum members may be interested.

 

Quite by accident I stumbled on the first programme in the new TV series "Sacred Music" charting the development of choral polyphony (with the help of The Sixteen). This evening's programme kicked off with plainsong and the Notre Dame school (Leonin, Perotin et al.) and was really excellent. If the rest of the series is up to this standard it will be well worth watching. The programme is available for the next six days on iPlayer.

 

Next week's programme will feature Palestrina.

 

Hi

 

The first programme is repeated at 7:00 pm today on BBC 4.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just watched the Saturday repeat. What an absolutely fascinating and beautifully put together programme. The balance struck by the presenter was spot on - not all patronising for those with little or no knowledge of the music from that period but in sufficient depth for those who know more about it to find something new. The 4 members of Harry Christopher's "Sixteen" were quite superb in their demonstrations of the music. The photography too was a match for the musical content.

 

I can't imagine that the rest of the series will disappoint.

 

P

Link to post
Share on other sites

Rather a high-powered, artistically, presenter - Simon Russell Beale. And I agree - an excellent programme, and all congrtulations to the BBC for it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Apparently, it was on various cable channels at various times throughout the night. I was asleep on the sofa with the TV alarm-mode set for the Formula One qualifying from Malaysia. I was woken by the sound of Organum from Notre Dame.

 

I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, which came as a great surprise to me!

 

:)

 

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
Rather a high-powered, artistically, presenter - Simon Russell Beale.

And all the better for it. Put aside for a moment his considerable acting achievements, and you have a former St Paul's Cathedral chorister; Clifton College music scholar; Caius, Cambridge choral scholar and singing postgraduate (GSM&D). With such a CV and an evident love of what we all enjoy, the series is blessed with a perfect presenter.

Link to post
Share on other sites
And all the better for it. Put aside for a moment his considerable acting achievements, and you have a former St Paul's Cathedral chorister; Clifton College music scholar; Caius, Cambridge choral scholar and singing postgraduate (GSM&D). With such a CV and an evident love of what we all enjoy, the series is blessed with a perfect presenter.

 

I couldn't agree more. Good to see a knowledgeable and passionate presenter, who (a considerable added bonus, this) can also speak English!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Coupled to this series as an "extra", last Sunday there was also a concert by The Sixteen, ranging from Plainchant to Bach, again with excellent brief introductions by Simon Russell Beale. This is also available on iPlayer. Why on earth the BBC billed it as "An Easter Celebration" I cannot think: it didn't contain a single Easter piece; but don't let that put you off. It was an exceedingly fine concert. I do wish mixed choirs would leave the Allegri alone though.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Barry Williams

"I do wish mixed choirs would leave the Allegri*alone though. "

 

*Presumably the setting of Psalm 51

 

Please tell us why you hold this view.

 

Barry Williams

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, the Miserere. I actually had some specific choirs in mind. The problem I have is not that mixed choirs can't sing it nicely - clearly singers of this quality should have the technique and capability to do as they like - but rather that they choose not to. There seems a tendency - and I am talking generally here - for the soprano singing the top Cs to be over-expressive, or even dramatic. I recently attended a concert (not by the Sixteen) where the performance, by a professional choir, was very sub-standard. It was poorly tuned, poorly balanced and the first soprano soloist positively shrieked her way through the top Cs. I exaggerate not; it really was painful and all the friends I attended the concert with with were equally upset.

 

I happen to think that the piece sounds best when the top Cs are floated out in the disembodied way that Roy Goodman did them on that famous King's recording. Not everyone likes the old King's style, of course, and I can understand those who want to imbue the piece with some Italian passion. But why bother to be "authentic" when the piece itself, as we usually hear it, is as much a confection as the so-called "Albinoni" adagio?

 

All IMO, of course.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Another superb programme last night. Simon Russell Beale definitely is just the man for this. I thought the layman's explanations of what polyphony is were the clearest and most helpful I have ever heard. I'd like to think that the young boy sitting on the street corner and singing Dufay was as natural as MM's young Latvian singing Mozart, but it did sound as though he'd just been taught the phrase to sing! Not that it matters, of course. More significantly, Palestrina is such a great composer that I was a rather disappointed that we were not allowed to bathe in a whole piece - just one would have been enough. I did feel a little short-changed by every piece being talked over.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Vox,

 

Have you heard the Tallis Scolars' "Miserere" with Deborah Roberts singing the high bits? The disc (Ginnell CDGIM 041) starts with a straight performance, which is super, but ends with another performance with embellishments to the solo part improvised and sung by the same artist. I heard it in the car on R3's CD Review one Saturday morning and had to pull into a layby, much to Mrs T's bemusement.

 

It is spine-tinglingly beautiful....(IMO of course).

 

P

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

The latest instalment (available on iPlayer) was a splendid account of the lives of Tallis and Byrd.

 

A (small) black mark for calling Tallis organist of Waltham Abbey. No doubt he did play the organs there, but I doubt he was employed specifically in that capacity. In most choirs at this time it was a job shared out amongst any clerks who could play. He could conceivably have been master of the lady chapel choir there - that might explain how he came to own the small volume of treatises we were shown. Though we heard Spem in alium briefly and had a glimpse of one of the scores, the work and its story were not mentioned at all - surprising perhaps, but perhaps too much emphasis has been put on it in the past. It was after all a one-off.

 

I thought that the analysis of Byrd's Why do I use my paper, pen and ink? might have pointed out that the opening figure is a passing knell (in keeping with the subject matter). It was good to see the point being reinforced that the bulk of Byrd's Latin music is not church music at all but chamber music.

Link to post
Share on other sites
(On the subject of Sacred Music generally - does anyone else find Sanders' Reproaches a perfect blend of words and music? I was close to tears this (Good Friday) morning. It always does that to me.)

 

Yes - These are much more than simply an english cathedral organist trying his hand at composition. Peter King commented (after his excellent Bath Abbey choir performed them) on their similarity, in some ways, to Bruckner (which I think he intended as a compliment!)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sacred Music may be the only thing worth watching on telly at the moment. I was curious, however, why such an authoritative programme should have recourse to anything quite so speculative as calligraphy. I do hope the remaining episodes avoid tealeaf-readings.

 

J

 

 

The latest instalment (available on iPlayer) was a splendid account of the lives of Tallis and Byrd.
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you mean graphology, not calligraphy! But, yes, I thought that too.

 

As for other things, I have found "The Choir" a really heartwarming series. Sure, all the stops were obviously pulled out to make the venture successful, but it just goes to show that with the right people and the will, you can get high school boys singing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Graphology ... exactly :rolleyes:

 

I think you mean graphology, not calligraphy! But, yes, I thought that too.

 

As fore other things, I have found "The Choir" a really heartwarming series. Sure, all the stops were obviously pulled out to make the venture successful, but it just goes to show that with the right people and the will, you can get high school boys singing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The final programme was about Bach, with an excellent account of his predecessors, Senfl, Luther and Buxtehude. The "famous toccata and fugue in d minor" was described as "attributed to Bach" with a brief discussion about its parentage.

 

I was surprised at several references to "Buxtehude's organ" in the Marienkerche, with a wonderful console full of electrickery, but eventually it was said explicitly that "Buxtehude's orginal organ", as once tuned by the present elderly tuner, was "severely damaged" during the war and replaced by a new instrument in the 1960s. As is compulsory in suchc programmes, we were told the number of pipes, the size of the smalles, and the length of the largest. "Thirty metres"! I'dd like to see this pipe, although I'm not sure that I could hear it.

 

In spite of such niggles, a wonderful programme.

Link to post
Share on other sites
it was said explicitly that "Buxtehude's orginal organ", as once tuned by the present elderly tuner,

 

Sorry, the tuner wasn't THAT old. The organ destroyed in 1942 was the 1851 Schulze which replaced Buxtehude's instrument, which had been enlarged in the early 18th century. He might well have tuned the Totentanz organ which had been restored as closely as possible to the state in which Buxtehude knew it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This was a wonderful series, but now it has finished, I feel let down by its shortness. Whyever did they stop at Bach?

 

Perhaps everyone would like to suggest composers for a further series or two to take us on to the present day. Here are my suggestions to kick off a second series:

 

1) Haydn & Mozart

2) Mendelssohn and Bruckner

3) Parry, Stanford, Terry and contemporaries

4) Howells, Leighton, Rubbra

 

In the meantime, perhaps we should pester Channel 4 to repeat Howard Goodall's "Organ Works."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...