“A Condition of Complete Simplicity” from T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets”

The Agony in the Garden circa 1799-1800 by William Blake 1757-1827

I can’t remember how this came to pass, but over the past few days, I’ve found myself listening a great deal to T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets.” And especially listening to the performance of “Little Gidding” by Paul Scofield (that can be found on YouTube). Now, as I’ve listened to Eliot off and on through the years, I’ve come to [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 42


Georg Philipp Telemann wrote a Matthäus Passion. I did not know this. …which, by extension, means that I also did not know that he’d written more than forty musical reflections on Christ’s Passion. That’s right. OVER 40! So, here’s his Paßions-Musik nach dem Evangelisten Matthäus (TWV 5:31) from 1746. It feels almost mild when compared to some of [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 41


Passion Week has begun. And so, here’s an unusual Matthaus-Passion from the influential German composer, Heinrich Schütz. The Introitus and Beschluss are my favorite parts, because they’re a bit more complex musically, and the rest feels a bit like a long recitative. But listening to the whole thing (with the text) is a really wonderful meditation. If the name [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 40


Another example of a work I stumbled across quite by accident. Again, from someone I’ve never even heard of before. And again, a really wonderful revelation. Its composer, Mateusz Dębski, is a young Polish musician who won First Place in a Choral Composition competition in 2006 with this very work. It might just be me, [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 39


Today’s bit of Lenten musical meditation is the “Paradisi gloria” from the “Stabat Mater” of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. The entire piece can be found here — that’s the world-premiere recording from 2012, courtesy of the Metropolitan’s YouTube channel — and while the sound quality is less than ideal, it’s fascinating and evocative stuff. The Metropolitan [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 38


No, I’m not done with Bach this Lent. Not yet. Not by a long shot. Here’s the “Crucifixus” from his masterful, transcendent Mass in B minor. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus, et sepultus est. And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate: suffered, and was buried. Attribution(s): “Cristo crucificado” by Diego [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 37


Today’s piece is “Surely He has borne our griefs” by Kevin Sadowski. I don’t even know who this “Kevin Sadowski” fellow is. I stumbled across the recording by accident while researching #MyLentInMusic entries, and was transfixed. (I was searching for something else entirely, and the recording “Lamentations: Music of Tenebrae” by the ProMusica of Washington [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 36


In honor of today’s feast, the opening chorus from Bach’s Annunciation cantata, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (How beautifully the morning star shines). The cantata, which can be found in its entirety here, is based on the hymn “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” by Philipp Nicolai. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern Voll Gnad und Wahrheit von dem [Read More...]

“I Don’t Have to Belong to the Catholic Church to Be in Love with Mary”

Dolores Maria

I love composers who love Mary. So I suppose my long-standing affection for the music of Morten Lauridsen should come as no surprise. Mr. Lauridsen, who has been described by musicologist Nick Strimple as “the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic” and who often spends his summers composing in seclusion on Waldron [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 35


Today’s selection is the “Lacrimosa” segment from the Requiem of Francesco Durante. (The bit that really caught my attention the first time through? The violin in that opening section is almost harsh in its isolation, and contrasts with the chorus in a really effective way. It’s a subtle effect, perhaps. But one that definitely brings a “full [Read More...]