Saturday, December 13, 2014

Guillaume Dufay - Magnificat octavi toni

Daniel Pinkham - Festival Magnificat

Daniel Pinkham's setting of the Magnificat is about the shortest and one of the clearest in terms of understanding the text.

The Cathedral Choir School of Delaware
Director not listed.

You Can't Refuse To Bring A Criminal Complaint And Then Demand That People Believe Your Accusation

The discussion of the ongoing series of media-based, as opposed to court room based, indictments against Bill Cosby is useless for discovering if he is guilty of rape or even sexual assault, it lacks the material to make even good investigative reporting and, lacking even that looser standard of proof, it doesn't provide us with the ability to determine his guilt.  That is obvious in this piece of opining (as opposed to reporting) in The Guardian and reposted elsewhere in venues of alleged journalism, in which Sara Benincasa, after paragraph after paragraph of accusing people who won't just go along with the media reports of calling all of the women making the accusations liars or of refusing to give up their childhood make believe of Cosby's various roles ends by saying:

I cannot say that Bill Cosby is guilty, because I do not know if he is guilty. And I cannot say that he committed any crime, because I do not know if he committed any crime. But I can say to Beverly Johnson, as I have said to my friends who’ve told me of their rapes, “I believe you.” 

So can you.

Well, yeah, you can do that.  What good is it to anyone?  But you can, instead concentrate on the far more important actions of crimes being determined, prosecutions being brought and the guilty being convicted and punished instead of the personal gratification of hatin' on people in the media and on comment threads.

Clearly our media isn't about the first as even such formerly serious organs of information as The Guardian have joined such others as Alternet (where I saw it was copied) and go for supplying their readers and commentators with two minutes after two minutes of hate.

If, as Benincasa says, even after all of her attention paid to these accusations and her writing about it, "I cannot say that Bill Cosby is guilty, because I do not know if he is guilty," then her advocacy of his guilt is based on something other than knowledge of tested evidence and accounts.

And, because it is a point constantly being lost in this discussion,  I have to point out, even if those friends of hers were absolutely telling her the truth and they were right and criminal convictions in valid trials had proven that other men had raped them, she still wouldn't know if Bill Cosby is guilty of another one, not to mention scores of other sexual assaults or rapes.  Guilt can't be transferred from one person to another based on gender or any other trait or from one incident to another.  That can only be done through a trial in which evidence is presented and challenged to test that evidence for its validity and how it can be legitimately interpreted.  And each case has to stand or fall on its own, one case of rape or even all cases of rape, proven, even by the best of trials, doesn't stand as evidence against another person made in another case. Every case is its own case.

What is being demanded here is that  due to the difficulties of women*  making an accusation of rape,  the rules for determining guilt must be altered and the presumption of innocence suspended.   That when it is a question of rape, that it be handled under entirely different rules from all other crimes.  Which will not wash and it will not benefit women who can be falsely accused of crimes as easily as men can be, perhaps more so, just look at the women who were convicted of ritual child abuse during the hysteria of the 80s and 90s in some of the worst trials in our modern history, motivated by the "new journalism" such as that of Geraldo Rivera and some of the most irresponsibly dodgy claims of psych-soc industry professionals which were allowed by irresponsible judges to override both physical possibility and a complete lack of credible evidence.   I can't and won't get past the horror of the railroading of the Amirault family and other people in the dozens of other cases that constituted that shameful episode of media hysteria, prosecutorial criminality and judicial irresponsibility**.   And, remember, in that case, at least there were trials in which the accused could challenge what was brought up against them, even as judges up through and including on state supreme courts acted as shamefully as the prosecutors and psych professionals. And I do accuse the Middlesex District Attorney in Massachusetts,  Martha Coakley, as well as the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and several sitting governors of that.   They were shameless in their professional mutual support in the face of the outrageously made case based on clearly unbelievable "evidence" and the swaying of jurors through emotion and the ambient media environment.

That none of these women who are accusing Cosby seems to have brought their accusations to the police at the time of the alleged incidents was their choice.  In the end, any successful prosecution hinged on that choice.   And in this accusation, it is a choice that was made in every case I'm aware of.  I have mentioned before that I do find it incredible that, with the number of incidents and women put before the public, not a single one of them did that. But that isn't an accusation that they are all lying, it's an observation that their choices made a criminal prosecution impossible.

What it is demanded we do is believe untested accusations, even such obviously problematic accusations as the one I wrote about a while back, in which the "victim", after being drugged and assaulted in Reno, chose to put herself in the same position on another occasion in New York City, and then in Atlantic City.   And it's being demanded that we all believe she wasn't a willing participant in what she, herself describes in such a self-impeaching scenario and that her accusation stand as evidence supporting the other accusations being made.

That it is a hard thing to do for a woman (or man) to make an accusation of being raped, with all of the shame and doubt which will often be attached to that, is undoubtedly true.  And that will almost always be the case when it is a question of rape, which is defined by adult consent, given or not in private, without witnesses. But the fact is that unless they are willing to make that accusation in a way that can bring a successful prosecution, we are stuck in the same limbo that even Sara Benincasa admits to in her post, we can't know if they are guilty.  It's unreasonable to put the burden of believing unproven accusations on those who are left in that position by those choices.

* Men who are raped count as little to nothing in this discussion, even as we are learning that more men are raped than we may have believed.

**  In my opinion, far worse than the red-scare and black listing of the late 40-60s which is paid far more attention because its victims were generally of higher standing and more well known to the class of people who run the media and don't have much use for the class most of the victims of the ritual sex abuse hysteria belonged to.  If any of the media figures who fomented that hysteria ever suffered even professional inconvenience from it, I'd like to know who they were.

Update:  Adults Need To Take This Issue Out Of  12-year-olds Hands

This issue is entirely out of hand.  I'd never heard of Susan Patton,  a rapist apologist and utter barm pot on the make, before this morning.   She one side of a coin in this fight in which everything exonerates men who rape even as her flip side holds that everything convicts men as rapists.   Having been very critical of that side recently, she and the cabloid media that has apparently made her into a minor star on the right-wing crackpot circuit are as bad if not worse. Neither side will do a thing to lessen the incidence of rape or make the punishment of the guilty and the exoneration of the innocent more likely.

The issue of rape has to be taken out of the hands of crackpots, perpetual adolescents, their cabloid and on-line enablers and users and put into adult hands. Just one of the many issues.   CNN joins FOX in showing that electonic media regulation is both necessary and desirable, they've dragged everything down and democracy cannot survive the metastasized disease they've brought us.

Friday, December 12, 2014

William Byrd - Magnificat (from Second Service)

Ensemble Hilaris


Here is a movie from the BBC that talks about the surprising career of a Catholic composer working for the Protestant Queen.  I've not  now seen the whole thing but the performances of his music in it are quite fine.  It's unusually well done for a BBC history, if a bit indulgent for one of the more brutal monarchs in English history (though no where near as brutal as her psychopathic father).

Hate Mail File

Yeah, I really did mean that I think Jefferson was probably plastered when he wrote that incoherent, ranting, raving letter.  It's far from the only example of one like that.  Compared to some of his others which are not incoherent rants, there has to be something to explain the difference.   I think the guy was probably at least a binge drinker if not a full blown alcoholic.  It was hardly rare for that period.  

I don't care for the phony, plaster St. Jefferson of a jillion hagiographic TV shows, movies and magazine articles and books.  The guy was seriously not admirable in a large number of ways.   I think we'd all be entirely better off if people didn't hold the "founders" in such awe that we aren't allowed to look critically at the governmental system they established, their thinking about it and their other legacies that have, as I noted the other day, permitted every evil allowed to go unpunished, committed by the government, the oligarchs, the plutocrats, the robber barons, etc.   Looking at them realistically is a step that will have to be taken before we have any hope at all of changing things to prevent those evils.   The religion of The Founders and "Original Intent" are mounted by those who want to continue and profit from those evils.  

I don't apologize for pointing out that the guy was raving when he wrote a not inconsiderable number of his letters. 

Juan Trigos - Magnificat Guadalupano

Magnificat Guadalupano by Juan Trigos.
Cantata Concertante for solos, chorus and orchestra

1990. Rev 2001. Work commissioned by the Instituto de Liturgia Música y Arte "Cardenal Miranda", in occasion of its 50th Anniversary.
World premiere: Church of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, el "Buen Tono", Mexico City, November 11, 1990. 2001 version premiere: Church of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, el Buen Tono, México City, April 2002.
Soloists: Soprano: Claudia Montiel. Tenor: Mario Hoyos. Bariton: Benito Navarro. Guitar: Pablo Gómez.

Chorus of the Instituto Cardenal Miranda. Camerata de las Américas.
Conductor: Juan Trigos.

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  This isn't exactly a setting of The Magnificat but it's an interesting work.

Really, I've Got To Tell A Harvard Student, You Expect Me To Believe You Didn't Want The Attention You Got?

The weird "Most Read" sidebar at Salon has up a year old piece entitled:

I was the Harvard harlot

When I started a sex blog at 19, it electrified the Ivy League -- and taught me how to fear other people's judgment

To which my original response was, "the Harvard harlot " oh, no you're not, not as long as the likes of Larry Summers are there.  I'd add in large parts of the Business, Law, Poly-Sci, Soc-sci, etc. faculty, the Harvard Corporation and governing structure as well.  That place is one of the more elite knocking shops of the military-industrial-banking complex.   

That said, what was one of the ultra-select, genius-class "young adults" of Harvard expecting the result of putting up a sex blog was going to be?   I mean, if she didn't want people expressing judgement of her putting herself on public display in a sex blog is about as stupid a way to avoid that as possible.  I mean, it is SEX and judgment has been known to have been exercised when it comes to SEX.  Call me skeptical but I think the dear young thing intended to get judged from the start, it's just she didn't like the negative judgments that came along with the positive ones she obviously sought to get.   It's like people who dress like an invitation for a come on, who go to a pick up bar or a frat party and then complain that men come on to them.  

Grow up, kids.  If you haven't learned that your intentional acts carry consequences, some of which you will predictably not welcome, it's time you learned that.   You will get the ones you don't like and if you want to avoid them the only choice is to modify what you choose to do.

Picking A Favorite Is Impossible.

Someone asks what of the settings of the Magnificat which I've been posting is my favorite.  None of them, I love most of them.  If I had to single one out it would be the Kreyòl version performed with religious dance by those young women.

Since this week is the anniversary of my mother's passing,  one of her great sources of pride and pleasure was the diversity of culture contained in Catholicism.  In her late years she was in the habit of watching the daily mass on TV, with various priests and congregations from the Boston area and beyond. Irish, of course, French Canadian, of course, but also Polish,  Ruthenian and Maronite (if I recall correctly), Portuguese, various Latino nationalities, as I recall at least one from Vietnam and a signing priest who brought his deaf congregation with him.   One of her favorites was a Haitian priest with a wonderful stentorian delivery and a surprising accent.  I heard him give one of the most succinct homilies I've ever heard.  If it was five sentences long I'd be surprised. It pointed out how Jesus, in one of his miracles, asked the man if he wanted to be healed.  The point of the homily was that Jesus respected the freedom of even those he healed, making it contingent on their choice.

It is a lot easier for me to pick the ones I don't find work than it would be for me to pick what is the best.  There are versions I've heard which, due to their being more show biz than spiritual, I won't post.  I can't imagine them inspiring anyone to think of the words, what they mean and lead them to put them into effect.   But, thankfully, there aren't too many of those.

As I said, I could post five a day and just barely scratch the surface.   Since listening to new music I've never heard before is one of my greatest temptations and pleasure, I've loved doing it.  It's like Christmas every day only it's Advent.

“say nothing of my religion. It is known to my God and myself alone"

I spent a bit of time yesterday in the hopeless, thankless task of cleaning up after a barrage of quote mining by atheists.  Yeah, it was Jefferson and the friggin' "Founders", as usual.  I have yet to encounter an ideological "quotation" of Jefferson which is done honestly and completely.  In one instance this is the "quote" that was used to prove Jefferson was an expert debunker of Christianity and religion, in general.

“[I]t is not to be understood that I am with him [Jesus] in all his doctrines. I am a materialist; he takes the side of spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance towards forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it."

Which, if you look for the source, you will find is mined from a letter he wrote to William Short, April 13, 1820.   In a wider context the meaning of it is clearer though far from clear and it wasn't the one the atheist made of it.

Dear Sir
Your favor of Mar. 27 is received and my grandaughter Ellen has undertaken to copy the Syllabus, which will therefore be inclosed. It was originally written to Dr. Rush on his death, fearing that the inquisition of the public might get hold of it, I asked the return to it from the family, which they kindly complied with. At the request of another friend, I had given him a copy. He lent it to his friend to read, who copied it, and in a few months it appeared in the theological magazine of London. Happily that repository is scarecly known in this country, and the Syllabus therefore is still a secret, and in your hands I am sure it will continue so.

But while this Syllabus is meant to place the character of Jesus in it's true and high light, as no imposter himself but a great Reformer of the Hebrew code of religion, it is not to be understood that I am with him in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist, he takes the side of spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance toward forgiveness of sin. I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it &c. &c. It is the innocence of his character, the purity & sublimity of his moral precepts, the eloquence of his inculcations, the beauty of the apologias in which he conveys them, that I so much admire; sometimes indeed needing indulgence to Eastern hyperbolism. My eulogies too may be founded on a postulate which all may not be ready to grant. Among the sayings & discourses imputed to him by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence: and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I seperate therefore the gold from the dross; restore to him the former & leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of his disciples. Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and firm corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus. These palpable interpolations and falsifications of his doctrines led me to try to sift them apart. I found the work obvious and easy, and that his part composed the most beautiful morsel of morality which has been given to us by man. The Syllabus is therefore of his doctrines, not all of mine. I read them as I do those of other antient and modern moralists, with a mixture of approbation and disent.

I rejoice with you, to see an encouraging spirit of informal improvement prevailing in the states. The opinion I have ever expressed of the advantages of a Western communication through the James River, I still entertain and that the Cayuga is the most promising of the links of communication.
The history of our University you know, so far, 7 of the 10 pavilions destined for the Professors, and about 30 dormitories will be compleated this year, and 3 others, with 6 Hotels for boarding, & 70 other dormitories will be compleated the next year, and the whole be in readiness then to receive those who are to occupy them. But means to bring these into place, and to set the machine into motion, must come from the legislature. An opposition in the mean time has been got up. That of our alma mater William and Mary is not of much weight. She must descend into the secondary rank of academies of preparation for the University. The serious enemies are the priests of the different religious sects, to whose spells on the human mind it's improvement is ominous. Their pulpits are now resounding with denunciations against the appointment of Dr. Cooper whome they charge as a Monarchist in opposition to their tritheism. Hostile as these sects are in every other point, to one another, they unite in maintaining their mystical theology against those who believe there is one god only. The Presbyterian clergy are loudest. The most intolerant of all sects, the most tyrannical, and ambitious; ready at the word of the lawgiver, if such a word could be now obtained, to put the torch to the pile, and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere, the flames in which their oracle Calvin consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not find in his Euclid the proposition which has demonstrated that three are one, and one is three, nor subscribe to that of Calvin that magistrates have a right to exterminate all heretics to Calvinistic creed. They pant to restablish by law that holy inquisition, which they can now only infuse into public opinion. We have most unwisely committed to the hierophant of our particular superstition, the direction of public opinion, that lord of the Universe. We have given them stated and privileged days to collect and catechise us, opportunities of delivering their oracles to the people in mass, and of moulding their minds as wax in the hollow of their hands. But, in despite of thier fulminations against endeavors to enlighten the general mind, to improve the reason of the people, and encourage them in the use of it, the liberality of this state will support this institution, and give fair play to the cultivation of reason. Can you ever find a more eligible occasion of visiting once more your native country, than that of accompanying Mr. Correa, and of seeing with him this beautiful and hopeful institution in ovo?

irst,  is it just me or doesn't that sound like the rantings of someone who imbibed too much fine wine from the Monticello cellars before he wrote the thing?  And, as could be expected of the slave-holder who also wrote the Declaration of Independence, that he is talking out of both sides of his mouth, making words mean things that they don't mean?   His use of "Materialist" and "spiritualism" are bizarre, in that his "materialism" would seem to include the belief in quite metaphysical entities, such as sin and repentance - in other letters he expressed a belief in God and an afterlife - perhaps we should just accept that Jefferson was in the habit of either meaning words to mean what we don't or that his duplicity, on full and shameful display in the disparity between the Declaration and his slave holding, extended to many other matters.

But there's a good reason for us to not try to claim Jefferson for one side or another in this brawl, in an earlier, far more lucid, coherent and, likely, sober letter he wrote on January 11, 1817, to John Adams, he said:

The result of your fifty or sixty years of religious reading, in the four words, “Be just and good,” is that in which all our inquiries must end; as the riddles of all the priesthoods end in four more, “ubi panis, ibi deus.” What all agree in, is probably right. What no two agree in, most probably wrong. One of our fan-coloring biographers, who paints small men as very great, inquired of me lately with real affection too, whether he might consider as authentic, the change of my religion much spoken of in some circles. Now this supposed that they knew what had been my religion before, taking for it the word of their priests, whom I certainly never made the confidants of my creed. My answer was “say nothing of my religion. It is known to my God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life; if that has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.” Affectionately adieu.

Why anyone would think that Thomas Jefferson, a slave holding, slave raping guy who lived in luxury off the labor of those slaves was worth having on your side in the modern struggle over God, I don't get.  His fame and reputation would seem to be mostly "fan-coloring" done by would be biographers, to me.

William Byrd - Magnificat

The Tallis Scholars

William Byrd is an interesting figure, not least of which because he was a truly great composer, "the English Palestrina".   He was also a faithful Catholic who, however, composed some of the most significant music ever written for Anglican liturgy, successfully managing to get through one of the bloodier monarchies in the history of the country which regularly saw Catholics and those suspected of any sort of association with a danger to the monarch tortured or killed.  He even managed to work at the Royal Chapel for much of his life, even as his Catholicism became more committed.   How he managed to do this in those complicated times is an indication that life is a lot more complicated than can be fit into a TV costume drama or even an historical novel.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Domenico Scarlatti - Magnificat

Yes, that Scarlatti, the one who wrote those hundreds of keyboard sonatas also composed excellent choral music.  I was really surprised the first time I found out, they never told us that in music history class.

Immortal Bach Ensamble

Morten Schuldt-Jensen (director?)

In Memory Of My Mother

Against Torture Being Made In Effect Legal

The usual proponents of torture and its cover up if not outright permission are reacting predictably to the torture report.  Including such creeps as Bob Kerrey, and let me point out what a bullet we dodged in him not getting the nomination for president.

Here's part of something I wrote almost eight years ago on the topic with enhancement.

In this morning’s Boston Globe there is a short article by Martha Bayles about torture which mentions something much more dangerous than the proposed, C-Span ready event dealt with above, it mentions the increasing use of torture by heroes in pop entertainment. It doesn't surprise me to learn that it is Fox TV, “24", which is presenting torture as an heroic endeavor engaged in by sexy men. It also doesn't surprise me that another cable network seems to be adopting the same entertainment values. The cabloids, both “news” and eye-candy, are the voice of the corporate right. Entertainment has the potential to do the same things that right-wing cabloid ‘news’ does, much faster and more dangerously. It does matter what entertainment shows do because their purpose is to manipulate emotions, that is their entire purpose. If this trend continues you can depend on torture becoming much more widely used and its punishment become not only very rare as it is today, but impossible. Torture, like the death penalty, is an essential tool of fascism. It is highly desired by many who would like to be able to use it without the inconvenience of being called to account for its use. Its promotion is the promotion of fascism.

The brain-game played by the proponents of torture, that it is essential to be able to extract information from terrorists that could prevent the imminent deaths of innocent people is the temptation dangled in front of an edgy population. Your decency or your life. But it’s not a bargain that has to be taken.

If, and that is one enormous IF, on some extremely rare occasion, someone is proven, in court, to be guilty of torturing someone and extracts information that does, actually, in real life, prevent the deaths of people in some act of terror, I doubt a conviction would be either obtained or that it would stand. If it did, the pressure for a pardon would be too great for any governor or president to withstand. If I am wrong about that what do we risk? That someday an individual who tortured someone to save lives will linger in jail. If the pro-torture side is wrong, then what do we risk? The answer is found around the world and is fully documented. Torture as a part of the spectrum of allowable consideration seems to always proceed to the worst case scenario.

Tagalog Magnificat

Hangad a Capella

Composer - E. Hontiveros, SJ
Arranger - P. Tirol

What is a "Brit-atheist" An Answer To A Question

As far as I know, I'm the first person to use the term which I invented after realizing how many of the atheists I've known were either British atheists or other English speakers with anglophile tendencies or attendance at an elite, British university and who shared common traits.   They share a common received set of ideas, beliefs and, more importantly attitudes, among the most prominent of those is the replacement of rigor with condescension, especially for Americans and, perhaps, most of all, Americans with Irish surnames.   I'm afraid that in many of them I see a continuation of the British class system, only somewhat tempered by democratic aspirations, when those aren't entirely rejected for some dotty Marxist or anarchist tripe.  The domestic form of official radicalism, Fabianism, is a travesty, for more of which, see Mother Country by Marilynne Robinson, the finest critique of the British culture I've ever seen.  We could use one of that quality for American culture* and the awful things which we inherited from the mother country.

I have found them to be rigid, 18th century style scientistic materialists of a kind whose faith was definitively overturned by science early in the last century and by logic as well, though intimations of problems with their faith were obvious well before that.  Being Brits, or anglophiles, they worship Charles Darwin, though remarkably few of them have gone to the bother of reading him or have studied how even in his lifetime, he had a hard time elucidating his great claim to fame, which was not evolution but natural selection.  Which is an idea, itself, embedded in the English class system with all of its assumptions of inequality and utilitarian worth of people as the ultimate truth of human life.   As I've noted, even Marx (who, himself declared he was not a Marxist) was originally enthusiastic for the usefulness of natural selection for his materialism but who quickly realized it for what it was merely a distortion of Malthus that imposed British class expectations onto the whole of the natural world.   I think it was that insight by Marx which confirmed my growing skepticism of the idea.

The new atheism, as shallow an intellectual fad as I'm aware of, led me to review the older atheist scribblers, Russell, most of all, but also others, and I have to say that it all looks a lot less impressive to me now than it seemed when I was in my teens and twenties.  Mostly it relies on common prejudices found among those under the sway of British elites, such as those who have run the BBC and other organs of British ... um, culture, instead of a rigorous and honest view of history, science and other areas of life.

Quite often it relies on myths if not outright fabrications, such as those surrounding Galileo and Copernicus, both of whom were, explicitly, believing Christians, in the case of Copernicus, a Catholic cleric who dedicated his book to the sitting Pope, after having been encouraged to publish by a previous Pope, Cardinals and Bishops.  Another is the largely mythical account of the "debate" between Thomas Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce, in which the Bishop is presented as entirely ignorant of science when even Darwin, himself, noted that he, a fellow of the Royal Society, had a full grasp of Darwin's theories and was aware of all of their weaknesses.  In that case the myth relies on a clearly falsified account scribbled in a magazine about four decades after the event, an account which is at odds with the contemporary record of the event and the position of the participants.  And that's just the start of their mythologizing.  I think that's a habit that the Brit-atheists could have gotten from the vicious, often false,  anti-Catholic invective that was a tradition in England from the time of the Tudors and which served, first and foremost, the royals and the other members of the cleptocracy that the Tudors established.

Least anyone think that I'd make the mistake of identifying the type with the English or British people,  most of them don't fit the description above, they are, in many cases, the first recipients of the disdain, derision and stereotyping.   Frankly, I don't know why they've put up with it for so long.   I could, if I wanted, come up with a short list of prominent Brits who seem to have rejected it, some quite entirely,  even some who were embedded in it before.  It's not genetic, it's just a bad habit.

*  For example, the worship of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the cult of the Founders, which, I will point out, has allowed as legal every single awful thing that American governments, oligarchs and corporations have gotten away with, from genocide of the native population, the theft of their lands, slavery, imperial conquest of lands, the subjugation of women, wage slavery, the theft and cheating and killing of workers, buyers of goods and entirely innocent bystanders, the insane gun industry, our corrupt medical-pharmaceutical industries, etc.  The list is too massive to ever be complete.   We have little to gloat over, even in the face of the dreadful aspects of British society.

Magnificat primi toni - Tomás Luis de Victoria

Ensemble Plus Ultra
Michael Noone (Director?)

Victoria was one of the greatest of the late 17th century composers, fully as good, I'd say, as Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso.

György Orbán - Magnificat

Cserna Ildikó - Soprano 
Kovács László  - Conductor 

Romantic style settings of the Magnificat are not in great supply online, it would seem.   This is one of the few I found, in the Hungarian language, and from the little I can make out of the text, it's by a living, Hungarian composer,  György Orbán, about whom I know little to nothing.   

I'm not sure that I find many of the few settings of the classic style, that of Mozart and, perhaps, C.P.E. Bach (whose setting I will post later), that convincing, personally.  If the romantic style is more suited to the text is not as easy to determine, I'd have to hear more of them.  If the many English language settings written by composers for the Anglican-Episcopalian churches classifies as romantic is debatable.  That genre of music, it seems to me, is governed by its own stylistic tradition that is influenced by but separate from secular, mainstream traditions.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Slavomír Hořínka - Magnificat

From the YouTube notes
Magnificat, cantata for 2 Gregorian scholas, 25 musicians and liturgical space

Berg Orchestra - Peter Vrábel
Tiburtina Ensemble - Barbora Sojková

Object from layered paper (6x11m) suspended in the dome created by Magdalena Bartáková

recorded on premiere 9.5.2012 in St. Salvator Church in Prague
NOTE: you should use headphones or high-quality speakers, otherwise you wouldn't hear the bass drum played very softly at the beginning. It is technically impossible to reproduce enormous dynamic range of live performance... [ I will warn you, it gets quite loud so don't crank up the sound too much A.M.]

time links for better orientation:
11:02 magnificat anima mea Dominum
13:56 et exultavit spiritus meus
17:18 ecce enim beatam me dicent
20:47 quia fecit mihi magna
23:55 fecit potentiam in brachio suo
29:57 dispersit superbos
31:55 suscepit Israel
34:45 sicut locutus est
39:30 amen

Slavomír Hořínka (*1980) comes from Valašské Meziříčí. He studied violin at Pardubice Conservatory with MgA Dalibor Hlava and continued with composition at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague with Prof. Ivan Kurz. He spent three months at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam (Prof. Daan Manneke, Jorrit Taminga, Ned McGovan). In 2008, he successfully finished his doctoral studies under the guidance of Hanuš Bartoň. His compositions were premiered by among other orchestras and ensembles, the Czech Philharmonic, the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, the Berg Orchestra, the B. Martinu Chamber Orchestra, the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra of South Bohemia, the Benewitz Quartet, the Moens Ensemble, the Puellae Cantantes. In addition to his career as a composer and work as a music producer, he devotes himself to promoting contemporary music, leading workshops for children in Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and teaching at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He has lectured in Prague, Pardubice, Litoměřice, Olomouc and Heidelberg. He is married and has two daughters.

My notes:  It's good to hear that composers are still finding ever new things to say through the text, even as they reference the oldest traditions of singing it.  I like this setting very much.   I'd never heard of Slavomír Hořínka before finding this setting online, he's clearly very talented.  Like I said, if you use headphones be careful because it goes from very soft to very loud.

Haitian Creole - Magnificat

Echo Des Jeunes of St Angela Parish

Magnificat (Serbian Tone 2)

St. Mary's choir led by Dn. Gregory Ealy.
St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral in Minneapolis.

Until I began researching this series I was almost entirely ignorant of the Orthodox practice of singing The Magnificat.  One of the most important parts of that tradition is the insertion of a short hymn of praise for The Theotokos (The Mother of God) into the text from Luke

More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim: without defilement you gave birth to God the Word: true Theotokos, we magnify you.

I don't know much of anything about the technical aspects of Orthodox systems corresponding to those of the Gregorian tradition so it's all new to me.   I will say that this performance in English is far more natural than most of those I've heard attempting to fit the Gregorian melodies to an English text.   Having been enthusiastic about using English in Catholic worship, as were both of my parents, I think that if they want to do something like that it would be better to write new melodies than to do damage to the old ones.

Looking at the website of St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral, I liked the short essay about St. Ambrose they had posted this month.  Especially this part:

St Ambrose is also known for standing up and speaking truth to the civil authorities. Not long after having ordered a massacre of 7,000 by his soldiers, the Emperor Theodosius I attempted to go to church, but Ambrose met him at the door and said: "You may not come in. There is blood on your hands." The Emperor was excommunicated, and forced to undertake a very public penance, and he swore that he would no longer order any arbitrary sentences of death, and introduced a forty day delay before any instance of judicial capital punishment. At other times Ambrose refused to hand over churches to the Arians supported by the Empress Justina.

It's a point that should be noted more often that even the last two arch-conservative popes in Rome, in a lot of their peace and social justice statements are far more radical than anything you'll find in the main-stream press in the United States or most other secular countries.

Materialists Bliss Out

A rare thing, here is a good article about religion at Salon, and one that even calls to task one of the heroes of atheism, the same one I dissed yesterday,  Sam Harris.   The religion is Buddhism and the criticism is the current campaign of Westerners to hijack it, in the form of "mindfulness", strip the religion of its essential nature and to sell the repackaged product as a new, improved, scientifically "vetted" (I hate that word) substitute.   Of course, this being the decade it is, the whole thing is being sold through pretty fMRI images and the currently fashionable neuro-sci both of which I've been on record as being skeptical of from before I started blogging.   I'm even more skeptical about the peddling of "mindfulness" meditation to people who are not already on a road of renunciation of selfishness and fixation on their egos.   I remember back when a more general sale on the usefulness of meditation to businessmen and other fixtures in the military-industrial-banking complex was begun in the 1960s,  with the promise of it making them more efficient and relaxed that I couldn't see how a more efficient M-I-B complex whose cogs felt all comfortable and relaxed would make the world a better place.

This attempt first came to my knowledge with the Brit-atheist-"buddhist" claims of Steven Batchelor,  someone who, if I were a Buddhist, I'd certainly consider a materialist apostate.   For anyone unfamiliar with Batchelor and his campaign to redefine Buddhism to make it fit his Brit-atheist world view, here's a good place to start:

To get a clear picture of Batchelor’s agnostic-turned-atheist approach to Buddhism, there is no need to look further than his earlier work, Buddhism without Beliefs. Claiming to embrace Thomas Huxley’s definition of agnosticism as the method of following reason as far as it will take one, he admonishes his readers, “Do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.”1 He then proceeds to explain who the Buddha really was and what he really taught, often in direct opposition to the teachings attributed to the Buddha by all schools of Buddhism. If in this he is following Huxley’s dictum, this would imply that Batchelor has achieved at least the ability to see directly into the past, if not complete omniscience itself.

Some may believe that the liberties Batchelor takes in redefining the Buddha’s teachings are justified since no one knows what he really taught, so one person’s opinion is as good as another’s. This view ignores the fact that generations of traditional Buddhists, beginning with the first Buddhist council shortly following the Buddha’s death, have reverently taken the utmost care to accurately preserve his teachings. Moreover, modern secular Buddhist scholarship also has applied its formidable literary, historical, and archeological skills to trying to determine the teachings of the Buddha. Despite the many important differences among Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana schools of Buddhism, traditional Buddhists of all schools recognize the Pali suttas as being the most uncontested records of the Buddha’s teachings.

In the face of such consensus by professional scholars and contemplatives throughout history, it is simply an expression of arrogance to override their conclusions simply due to one’s own preferences or “intuition” (which is often thinly disguised prejudice). To ignore the most compelling evidence of what the Buddha taught and to replace that by assertions that run counter to such evidence is indefensible. And when those secular, atheistic assertions just happen to correspond to the materialistic assumptions of modernity, it is simply ridiculous to attribute them to the historical Buddha.

Sound familiar?   A mirror of the atheist attack on Christianity and other religious traditions, going back to the late 18th century?*

The Salon article concentrates on the would-be scientific improvements on Buddhism in the form of the currently fashionable "mindfulness", the secular presentation of which I suspect is about as deep as Madonna's publicly taking up the study of Jewish mysticism - does anyone know how far she got?   It concentrates on Sam Harris and Jon Kabat-Zinn, but also mentions the ABC news-flack, Dan Harris, someone who used to work as the statehouse reporter for a TV station in my state.   Finding out that he'd eased his troubled mind with "mindfulness" even as he worked to propagandize for the GOP didn't come as that much of a surprise to me.   As the article points out, the "mindfulness" industry isn't so big on a moral foundation before it teaches you to drug your conscience.

One of the most interesting things I got from the article were links to papers questioning not only the validity of current neuro-science and the claims made for it, but, also, a fascinating paper, The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations,  about how including neuro-sci can lead people to favor inferior data.  Whenever I hear someone on the radio, on TV or online gassing on about "neuroscience" the very low probability of them knowing enough to believe what is being claimed, is the first thing I think about.   Which would bring me back to the prominent place that belief, of necessity, takes in science, to the total denial of even sophisticated believers in the idea that science is a different order of thought, when it isn't and a belief it is lessens the likelihood of getting closer to the truth.

All in all, the recent atheist grab for more of the market they clearly take human culture to be is not based on clear thinking and scientific reliability, it is based on the opposite, PR, PUBLIC RELATIONS, it's a sales pitch and a snake oil salesman dressed in a lab coat like the old figures in some very old cigarette ads. That isn't something that wasn't known to even some very anti-religious, very invested atheists.   In a description of one of the events in the early years of the pioneering effort in the new atheism, CSICOP,  one of its founders, Dennis Rawlins said:

A few minutes later Christopher Evans (since deceased) came by and took the empty fourth chair at our table Within seconds of his joining us Abell had told him of his BBC television series and all three were talking of such matters. Right then it dawned on me I had come to promote open-ended scientific research -- but the real purpose here was media wheeling and dealing And that is why we were meeting at the temple of CSICOP's faith, the National Press Club 
The subsequent afternoon proceedings dealt primarily with international organizing and publicity schemes But no one seemed interested in defining what all the hoopla was for. Which was reasonable enough -- because that was what it was for.

And, in the end, I suspect that is what most of this combination of Western imperial takeover of Buddhism and distorting it into a materialist form is all about.

*  It never ceases to astound me how profoundly ignorant atheists are of even their own, atheist, tradition.  Not long ago I got into an argument in which the callow boys were unaware of the atheist critique of religion, and they were even more profoundly unaware of the fact that religion has been self-critical from the start of the written record, including within both The Bible and in the various other, early scriptures, the Vedas, the Upanisads, the writings of the Buddhist tradition.  As compared to atheism, the amount of self-criticism and self-questioning among religious folks is massive.  Any journal or auto-biography by a religious person which is worth reading will be full of self-questioning.  No less a figure than Jesus, as he was dying on the cross asked "Why have you forsaken me?"   Compared to that the smug, self assurance of atheists is about as banal as can be.

Update:  Answer to a complaint.

I read and studied Buddhism for a number of years, beginning with a course in the late 60s using Charles Moore and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's Sourcebook In Indian philosophy, progressing on to reading a number of the Suttas and many, though a tiny number in the oceans of Buddhist commentaries and, yes, critiques that are exant, going over the past 2,500 years.  I have credited my study of Buddhism and practice in Metta and physical meditation with my return to the Jewish tradition and I am grateful to it.  So I have a smattering of knowledge in this area. I know enough to know Western colonization and usurpation of that non-western tradition when I see it.   It is ironic that in the period when Christian and Jewish scholarship have tried hardest to understand the scriptures in that tradition in greater depth that atheists, who generally deny or deride those attempts, are trying to hijack another venerable tradition by peddling a superficial version of it with all moral content removed.   In that they remind me of nothing so much as the fundamentalist hucksters and the salesmen of the "prosperity gospel".

Update 2:  I added a picture after an expression of skepticism.  Here's another one.

Thomas Tallis - Magnificat

Heinavanker (The Haywain), a music vocal ensemble from Tallinn, Estonia, has performed since 1988. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Heinlich Schutz - Meine Seele erhebt den Herren SWV 426

Collegium Vocale Seoul

Sunah Kim Conductor

Heinrich Schutz: Deutsches Magnificat. Meine Seele erhebt den Herren SWV 494


His setting of the text in German is as much a masterpiece as the one I posted last night.

Look at the look on the kid's face beginning at around 4:45 as the wonderful turbulence of the music in the Latin setting is going on all around him, trying to keep his place and concentrate on his solo that's coming up.

So Much Rests On Belief, Including All Of Our Lives

In reading this interview of John Figdor, the Humanist Chaplain at Stanford,  the problems with his atheist religion, "Humanism" were so obvious that it's astonishing that a Harvard boy teaching at its west coast equivalent didn't see them for himself.   In the intro, Michael Schulson gives two of the Figdor 10 atheist commandments as:

Commandment IV: “All truth is proportional to the evidence.” Commandment V: “There is no God.”

There is a rather large problem with those two statements, well at least two problems.  To start with, there is no evidence to support the contention "There is no God", so its "truth" as measured by that rule would have to equal zero.   But the problem is even more fundamental because there is no evidence that that rule for measuring truth by evidence is true.   I mean, this is a Harvard product coming up with this stuff while on staff at Stanford, getting it into a major media source, as well as into a book.

As to how well Figdor intends to put that into practice, here's one of many questions and answers that could be used to test that.

You specifically call them “Ten Commandments for the 21st Century.” What is it about this particular historical moment that invites a rewrite? Or what is it about your version of the Ten Commandments that’s specifically adapted to the 21st century? 

Again, we’re trying to point out that the original Ten Commandments were written in, like, very early history. We’re talking Stone Age texts. There’re many points at which we probably should have updated the Ten Commandments. When we understood the germ theory of disease, we probably should have reworked the Ten Commandments. When we figured out the printing press, we probably should have worked them out. When we figured out basic evolutionary biology, all of these moments where we learn something new, we ought to reflect on our previous beliefs and say, “Do these still seem true? Do these still seem valid to us?”

To start, "Stone Age texts"?   Geesh, didn't his major have any requirement that would have at least led him understand the incompetence, not to mention inaccuracy of that statement?   Nothing that could have kept him from, not only the anachronism "stone age" - since Iron is mentioned in Genesis, but the absurd phrase "Stone Age Texts"? And, remember, this is a guy who is supposed to be all about evidence and, here's the kicker, the revealed truth of science.   Apparently the geological and archaeological evidence that could have informed this, uh, experts thinking didn't cause him to rework the tripe he picked up from bull sessions at the  Secular Student Alliance and never bothered to test against science.

Apparently his Masters in "Humanism and Interfaith Dialogue" from Harvard Divinity School didn't include him reading things in which such matters were considered, going back to the advent of science.   I'd suggest the boy go through Teilhard de Chardin, if he's able to read it.  Especially "The Phenomenon of Man".

I will give the guy credit for refusing to go along with the Sam Harris style tripe that says that you can derive morality with science but his admiration for Harris wouldn't give me any confidence that he has any deeply held sense of morality.

I have huge respect for Sam Harris, and my position is actually extremely similar to Sam Harris’. We just come to two different conclusions. Sam Harris’ position is, broadly, that we can look at something called the neurotypical behavior of human beings, and we can understand that when you have serotonin in a certain volume, or you have dopamine in a certain volume, this means that there’s something positive going into your brain. So he has this standard for valuing things. A neurotypically derived version of utilitarianism.

Sam Harris has this view where we’re able to generate an objective answer out of this. [Lex Bayer and I] don’t think that it’s objective, because ultimately it’s based on the beliefs, experiences and preferences of individuals.

Which, again, is problematic for his fourth commandment as it admits that morality is not merely the product of "evidence".  But Sam Harris is a moral vacuum, a bigot, an atheist-jihadist in the Hitchens mold, not to mention many areas of moral atrocity.   You'd think some of that evidence, in Harris's own words, would be at least worthy of mention.

I used to buy the line that there was no "objective" morality and that morality was the product of social agreement, I don't believe that any more.  While there are a large number of problems, in real life, as well as in the scholarly imaginings and musings we have been duped into valuing above real life, the evidence of history and personal experience forces the truth on me that unless it is believed in absolutely, any asserted moral position can be set aside in favor of personal desire or gain.   Without some real AND EFFECTIVE belief that there is an obligation imposed on us to act morally, against our desires or benefit, then that obligation will, more often than not, be pushed aside.

What we see all around us is the result of a disbelief in just the kind of morality that Fidor wants to assert, even as he wants to deny the only basis on which that morality will be followed.  Which is one of the bigger problems with atheism and other forms of materialism.   An atheist, a materialist, has no reason to not do exactly what they want if they think they can get away with it.  As I've mentioned, that some contented, academic atheists are pleasant guys to be around only shows that some atheists don't want to or figure they can't be bothered to do things we would know were evil.  The absence of the desire, in that case, renders the lack of restraint moot.  If they suddenly wanted to, say, kill a rival for a position and knew they could get away with it and that no one would ever know, would you want to be that rival?

In one of the most putrid lines ever put into an opera, Four Saints in Three Acts, the putrid Gertrude Stein has "Saint Settlement" ask,  If it were possible to kill five thousand chinamen by pressing a button would it be done?  To which her character Comere says, "St. Teresa not interested."  As Stein's own history would show, the sloth and inertia that kept Stein from doing more than excluding people from her salon and badmouthing them wouldn't rouse her to be more interested in the people slaughtered all around her during the Nazi occupation of France while she enjoyed the protection of the Vichy government, which she roused herself to do some work for.  That example and the cover up of her by exactly the kind of academic, secular folk welcomed by the "Humanists" as some form of progress serve me as evidence that the whole thing is worse than hogwash, it's the bulwark of a new and far more horrible dark age.  But, apparently, you can get a graduate degree from Harvard Divinity without that inconvenient truth being presented for testing with evidence.

You Want Me To Believe You, Show Me Your Opponents

In the past year, as I've gotten closer to the black liberation theology of James Cone and his colleagues the quote of his teacher, Reinhold Niebuhr  has come to make more and more sense to me.  Niebuhr said, “If a gospel is preached without opposition, it is simply not the gospel which resulted in the cross."    In short, it can't be the same gospel that Jesus preached.  That means that any claimed representation of the teachings the man on whom capital punishment was imposed by the duly appointed legal authority of the state, which rests easily with the state, can't be authentic.  It may be wrong in its conclusions, opposition to it is only one test, not the one that guarantees authenticity, but if it lacks opposition by the state and by the rich and powerful, it is guaranteed to be inauthentic.

And Jesus noted that himself in the scandalous passage about his  message driving families and people apart from each other.  That wasn't his goal but he was a realist who knew that would be a result of it. God's law doesn't rest easily along side human selfishness and self absorption.  Especially the selfishness of those with an ability to exercise either legal or de facto authority.  It is as guaranteed to be unwelcome by the outlaws as well as the in-law crooks and gangsters.  An impressive number of the Hebrew prophets ended up getting killed or otherwise suffered for their preaching.

In an article by Timothy King, which I read while researching this series it points out that the message that was going to happen is contained in the verses I've been examining this Advent.

Before Jesus was born, his mother Mary predicted that he would offend some people. In the Magnificat she sang:

"He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty."

She probably didn't realize in that moment how right she would be. That in fact, Jesus would offend and challenge so many people in high places that they would kill him for it.

Jesus set a clear pattern during his ministry of comforting those on the margins of society and offending the wealthy and powerful. He offended many in religious leadership by dining with "sinners." He shocked even when he reached out to those whom society considered "unclean." The rich young ruler walked away when Jesus told him that to be perfect, he should sell all that he had and give the money to the poor.

It is often said that Jesus was put to death by Rome because he was a challenge to their political power and domination and that both the Roman and local authorities were worried about him causing another of the many revolt that were common in the resistance of the Hebrew people to Roman rule.  But that only gets to the top level of his challenge to authority.  The reason for Rome to have invaded and conquered other people was, at the bottom, so they could steal the wealth of those people, essentially the thing that the rich do to the poor with the support of the civil authority.  That is one of the most common attributes of secular, civil government as it is of theocratic governments or any but the most radical of egalitarian democracies (in theory).  The poor are always under the colonial domination of the rich, the rich became rich, maintain their wealth and expand it through the acquisition of the product of other peoples labor, if not their labor, itself through either chattel or wage slavery.  It is also the fact that in most places women and minorities are customarily so colonized.

That is a fundamental violation of The Law, the instances in The Bible when that is allegedly sanctioned in the Israeli conquests of other people is inevitably in conflict with that law.  If that is a test of the authenticity of those passages contained in the canon is an interesting question.  For me it means that a choice in what to believe has to be made and for me, I would rather not lead myself into temptation of the kind that the imperial claims inevitably lead to.

For us, today, in America, the foremost imperial power, once challenged by the British, then the Soviet Union, briefly by Japan and now by China, we have a choice to make.  One of the tragedies of American imperialism is that it has discredited the best things about us as well as the worst.  Instead of being an example to follow, in our domestic politics, corrupted by imperial conquests and enslavement of other people, we are an example of the tragedy of falling into sin and the casual easiness with which people who claim to aspire to goodness can talk themselves into ignoring the evil that we and our government does.

It is one of the greatest scandals of Christianity, the extent to which even otherwise admirable religious clergy, religious and lay people have both accepted and participated in the respectable evil by civil authorities, governments and the oligarchs and other criminals who wield official and, so, respectable power.  Power held to be legitimate by custom and law but which is obviously, baldly and blatantly at odds with The Gospel of a man they, though, insist spoke with divine authority.   That acquiescence to evil is them failing that test of attracting opposition.   The extent to which their words can co-exist with legitimized evil is the extent to which their Christianity is a fraud.  To a good extent, the neo-atheist fad feeds on that inauthentic Christianity.  As Chris Hedges has pointed out, much of the Christianity around today is openly heretical, as much of a betrayal as the governance of Herod depicted in The Bible.  Complete with slaughters of innocents, another sign of trouble found early in the story of Jesus.


One of the other recent things I read while researching the Nazis was the little remarked fact that they were an eager adopter of one of the very symbols of The Enlightenment, the guillotine.   I'm sure that if any true blue fan of the 18th century Enlightenment has read this far they are chaffing at my description of that scientific engine of execution, what for Revolutionary and then secular France could take the place of the Roman cross, a means through which the state killed those it chose to kill.

Among those who the Nazis murdered, by law, with that enlightenment machine were the young students of the White Rose, who have been the subject of books and a movie.   I plan on writing about them more in the future.

Another victim of the Nazi guillotine is, I suspect, far less well known because he wasn't a Lutheran or Catholic, as the White Rose martyrs were, but a Mormon, of all things.   Helmuth Hübener's crime against Nazism was similar to that of the White Rose, he told the truth.   In this excellent article two Mormon scholars Alan Keele and Douglas Tobler go into quite a bit of detail, much of it not welcome, I'm sure, to many Mormons.  Though admitted by others. Including that many German Mormons were either enthusiastic for Hitler or were willing to go along to get along.  That is a sin that was so common in the face of Nazism, the size of even the legendary French resistance was a lot smaller than used to be pretended.

It may be a mark of the authenticity of his witness that local Mormon authorities excommunicated Helmuth Hübener and condemned him even as he was marked for death, though that was never official, from what I gather, since the higher levels of the Mormon hierarchy didn't OK it.   His witness, his message passes the test of leading to opposition, hands down.

I would recommend reading the article, I can't do it justice in the few minutes I have to write this post.   He and his resistance, leading to the opposition of both secular and religious authority deserves far more than I can give it.

Heinrich Schutz Magnifcat SWV 468

Why Heinrich Schutz isn't as well known as several later baroque composers is something I don't understand.  After J.S. Bach he may rate as the nearest contender as the greatest of them.   His Latin setting of the Magnificat is absolutely glorious and fascinating in its contrasts, in its complex textures and tone painting (look at how he sets the text "Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui" starting on page 70 of the score).  His settings are some of the most musically absorbing of those I've heard. His belief is clear as well.  He really believed in it, the most important consideration of all.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mozart - Magnificat Petrassi - Magnificat And I Confess

I confessed last week that I'd never known Mozart wrote a setting of the Magnificat until beginning to research this series.   If you've never seen how massive a number of compositions Mozart wrote during his life time, go to a good university library and look at the Neue Mozart Ausgabe which the Online Digital Edition says currently runs 127 volumes.   He wrote a heck of a lot of music before his early death.  No one can know all of it.

This week I'll confess that, after listening to several performances, I don't really like his setting which seems too ... I don't know, "enlightened"?   Or perhaps too operatic?  There's nothing really wrong with it, it just doesn't move me.  But, he was Mozart, after all,  the composer who no less an expert than Schoenberg put second to only Bach in his counterpoint,   and who am I to second guess either of them?  If you love it and find it talks to you, then that's all that matters.  With that much music there's plenty of other stuff to love in Mozart's corpus of works.

I don't know if it might not be related but, though I love some of Goffredo Petrassi's later music, influenced by Anton Webern, I also didn't like his earlier neo-classical setting of the Magnificat.  There's some very good music in it but I couldn't keep my attention on it.  Here it is.

I.'Magnificat: anima mea Dominum'. Allegro - Stesso tempo - Andante - Tempo I 
II.'Et exultavit spiritus meus'. Sostenuto - Più mosso [03:38]
III.'in Deo salutari meo'. Moderato - Molto lento [05:15]
IV.'Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae'. Moderato [08:56]
V.'Quia fecit mihi magna'. Mosso con energia - Molto sostenuto, grandioso [12:02]
VI.'et sanctum nomen ejus'. Andantino - Adagio [13:07]
VII.'Et misericordia ejus'. Andante mosso [16:28]
VIII.'Fecit potentiam in brachio suo'. Andante mosso - Ancora più mosso - Vivo [18:07]
IX.'Deposuit potentes de sede'. Moderato [20:26]
X.'Esurientes inplevit bonis'. Andantino (non troppo) - Lento - Adagio [21:49]
XI.'Suscepit Israel puerum suum'. Andante sostenuto [24:21]
XII.'Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros'. Allegro sostenuto [26:35]
XIII.'Gloria Patri, et Filio'. Presto [28:21]

Sabina Cvilak, soprano
Coro del Teatro Regio di Torino diretto da Claudio Fenoglio
Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino diretta da Gianandrea Noseda.