Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July 1610: Monteverdi's 'Vespers' published

Last updated August 26, 2018.

Vespro Della Beata Vergine (Vespers of the Blessed Virgin)

Claudio Monteverdi (composer)


Composed: 1610


Published: July 1610


Sales: - NA -


Peak: - NA -

Quotable: --


Genre: classical > choral music


Parts/Movements: 1) "Domine ad adiuvandum" for 6 voices, Mxiv 123 2) "Dixit Dominus" for 6 voices & 6 instruments, Mxiv 133 3) "Nigra sum sed formosa for 1 voice, Mxiv150 4) "Laudate, pueri, Dominum" for 8 voices & organ, Mxiv153 5) "Pulchra es, amica mea" for 2 voices, Mxiv170 6) "Laetatus sum" for 6 voices, Mxiv174 7) "Duo Seraphim clamabant" for 3 voices, Mxiv190 8) "Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum" for 10 voices, Mxiv198 9) "Audi, coelum, verba mea" for 1 voice & 6-part chorus, Mxiv227 10) "Lauda, Jerusalem, Dominum" for 7 voices, Mxiv237 11) "Sonata sopra 'Sancta Maria' ora pro nobis" for 1 voice & 8 instruments, Mxiv250 12) "Ave maris stella" for 2 voices, double chorus & 5 instruments, Mxiv250 13) "Magnificat" I for 7 voices, 9 winds, 2 violins & cello, Mxiv285 14) "Magnificat" II for 6 voices for organ, Mxiv327


Average Length: 95:50

Review:

“The historical interest of this work is almost as great as its inherent qualities. Vespers are part of the daily Offices, or Canonical Hours, of the church, music for the Offices including psalms (with antiphons), hymns, and canticles, as well as chanted lessons (with responsories). Although inspired by the Church Office, Monteverdi’s Vespers in many ways transcends the original concept, perfectly exemplifying the transition between austere Renaissance polyphony and sheer Baroque splendor. Monteverdi makes his characteristic contribution to sacred music in a bold, almost operatic, style, complete with daring stereophonic and echo effects, and includes a suite of instrumental dances, concerti sections for both voices and orchestra, and a love song. To what extent this is liturgical music is debatable in view of the choice of texts, which some in Monteverdi’s time considered blasphemous. Completed in 1610, the Vespers was written for the court of the Gonzaga family in Mantua, where Monteverdi was employed from 1590 to 1612, and dedicated to Pope Paul V. But the composition’s true home is undoubtedly the cathedral of St. Mark in Venice, where Monteverdi was appointed maestro di cappella in 1613. Indeed, the Vespers could well have been conceived with its echoing spaces, galleries, balconies, organ, and choir lofts in mind.” AMG

“The sections contain striking contrasts, but the unity and continuity of Monteverdi’s grand design is maintained theatrically as well as musically. The overture, for choir and orchestra, is manifestly operatic, and close to that of Monteverdi’s first opera, Orfeo — an upsurge of joyous energy, interposed by an orchestral toccata and ending with a jubilant Alleluia. The instrumentation (cornets, sackbuts, a variety of single and double reeds, recorders, strings, organ, and harpsichord) is, with the exception of the instrumental ritornelli, mainly intended to contribute to the formal structure of the choral sections, coloring the choir in the manner of organ stops, as in the Dixit Dominus, Laetatus sum, Audi, coelum, and the beginning and end of the closing Magnificat, the climax of the whole work. The ways in which Monteverdi treats the cantus firmus by incorporating it into the counterpoint of the choral writing, as in ‘Dixit Dominus’ (Psalm 109), is not found in earlier choral literature, nor is the flowing, unfettered parlando (recitation) style used in Nigra sum, a metrically free poem with allusions to the biblical Song of Solomon. The concerto Due Seraphim is probably the most interesting section in the Vespers. It is set for two ‘answering’ voices — a sort of singing competition for angels — and almost exceeds the limits of human vocal technique. The choral writing is also demanding in its splendor and complexity, much of it in six, seven, and, as in the psalm Laudate pueri, eight parts; yet the simplicity of the two-part hymn Ave Maris stella is also among the many treasures of this magnificent work.” AMG

“It has not been easy to arrive at satisfactory modern performing editions of the Vespers, and interpretations differ in important details. The title page of the first edition is inscribed ‘ad Sacella sive Principum Cubicula accomodata Opera’ (for use in princely rooms and chapels),’ but unfortunately several modern editors have attempted to regard it as a vast choral work, ignoring the comparatively small forces needed to realize its grandeur. This work was little known and not recorded until the 1930s, when musicologists and scholars, such as Nadia Boulanger, researched the puzzles and complexities of authentic Baroque performance.” AMG


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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

July 25, 1788: Mozart completed Symphony No. 40

Last updated August 27, 2018.

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (composer)


Composed: 1788


Completed: July 25, 1788


Sales: --


Peak: --

Quotable: “One of the greatest works of a composer whose music so frequently defies adequate description” – Brian Robins, All Music Guide


Genre: classical > symphony


Average Length: 26:40


Parts/Movements:

  1. Molto allegro
  2. Andante
  3. Meuetto & Trio, Allegretto
  4. Allegro assai

Review:

Symphony No. 40, sometimes referred to as “the Great G minor symphony,” WK was composed in the summer of 1788 along with Mozart’s other two final symphonies. BR Some have argued that “Mozart had no specific occasion in mind for their performance” BR and that he simply wrote them for posterity. WK However, “scholar H. C. Robbins Landon has…[argued they were] written for a series of concerts…in the fall or Advent season of 1788.” BR Neal Zaslaw has offered evidence that “Mozart took the three symphonies on the tour he made to Germany the following year.” BR There is also other evidence of performances of the symphony from 1789 to 1791. WK

“One aspect of the symphonies upon which commentators reach universal agreement is their extraordinary diversity of character; each has unique qualities which together utterly explode the myth that the extreme agitation and pathos of the G minor Symphony reflected the abject circumstances in which Mozart found himself at this period…Neither should it be forgotten that the tragic qualities so often associated with the symphony today have not always been apparent to all. To Robert Schumann the symphony was a work of ‘Grecian lightness and grace,’ while for a later writer, Alfred Einstein, there are passages that ‘plunge to the abyss of the soul.’” BR

“The symphony is cast in the usual four movements; the opening Molto allegro immediately announces something unusual by starting not with characteristic loud ‘call to attention,’ but with quietly spoken agitation. The uneasy passion of the main theme leads to conclusions that seem to protest rather than find any consolation. The movement’s dominant feeling is urgency: upbeat after upbeat after upbeat occurs. Amid great instability and a questioning aura, we experience a peek into Don Giovanni’s abyss. In the finale, the horns intrude with wild swatches of color. There is even an eerie twelve-note insertion after the double bar in the Allegro assai section.” BR

“There are two versions of the G minor symphony. The first is modestly scored for flute and pairs of oboes, horns, and strings, but at some point shortly after composition Mozart added parts for two clarinets, slightly altering the oboe parts to accommodate them. Such second thoughts surely also add credibility to the idea that Mozart led performances of the work – he would hardly have bothered with such refinements if the symphony was not being used for practical purposes.” BR


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Monday, July 16, 2018

Dave’s Faves: Top 100 All-Time Acts Based on Song Counts

These are my all-time acts based on song counts; that is, this is a list of those acts who have the most songs in my digital library. The number in parentheses indicates the number of songs by that act at the time of this list. Note: the high song counts are attributable to multiple versions of some songs – live renditions, alternate takes, etc. I’ll also point out that I posted images of some lesser known acts which rank amongst my favorites instead of more familiar faces. Perhaps it will prompt you to explore an act you know little or nothing about.

Marillion, the 1980s Fish era

1. Bob Dylan (1095)
2. Elvis Presley (703)
3. Bruce Springsteen (651)
4. The Beatles (617)
5. Marillion (565)
6. The Rolling Stones (517)
7. David Bowie (510)
8. U2 (497)
9. Jimi Hendrix (487)
10. Bob Walkenhorst (455)

Bob Walkenhorst, lead singer of the Kansas City-based Rainmakers

11. Eric Clapton (437)
12. Johnny Cash (393)
13. Pearl Jam (368)
14. Prince (366)
15. Sting (349)
16. Tori Amos (341)
17. Elvis Costello (314)
18. The Who (303)
19. Indigo Girls (287)
20. Styx (275)

Indigo Girls

21. Jack White (solo, White Stripes, Raconteurs, Death Weather) (268)
22. Pink Floyd (264)
23. Bob Marley (251)
24. Kevin Gilbert (solo, NRG, Giraffe, Toy Matinee, Kaviar) (250)
25. Lou Reed (249)
26. Alan Parsons (248)
27. Led Zeppelin (242)
28. John Mellencamp (233)
29. Genesis (233)
30. Elton John (231)

the little-known and gone-too-soon Kevin Gilbert

31. R.E.M. (230)
32. Van Halen (220)
33. John Lennon (210)
34. Journey (207)
35. Yes (207)
36. Asia (206)
37. Neil Young (204)
38. Radiohead (202)
39. Rush (201)
40. Sheryl Crow (200)

Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, the core of new-wave band Squeeze since the late ‘70s

41. Sinead O’Connor (197)
42. Simple Minds (194)
43. Aretha Franklin (186)
44. Fish (186)
45. Squeeze (184)
46. Lyle Lovett (184)
47. Robert Plant (181)
48. Aerosmith (179)
49. Peter Gabriel (177)
50. Melissa Etheridge (173)

Melissa Etheridge

51. Michael Jackson (172)
52. Garth Brooks (171)
53. Ray Charles (170)
54. Queen (169)
55. Paul Simon (solo & with Art Garfunkel, 169)
56. Split Enz (166)
57. Stevie Wonder (165)
58. Terence Trent D’Arby (165)
59. Metallica (160)
60. Frank Sinatra (159)

Terence Trent D’Arby

61. Crosby, Stills & Nash (159)
62. Shawn Colvin (159)
63. Fleetwood Mac (157)
64. Billy Joel (156)
65. Paul McCartney (solo & with Wings, 155)
66. Nirvana (154)
67. The Rainmakers (150)
68. Eminem (150)
69. Guns N’ Roses (149)
70. A-ha (149)

Keb’ Mo’

71. Alanis Morissette (149)
72. Eagles (147)
73. Barenaked Ladies (147)
74. Keb’ Mo’ (146)
75. Willie Nelson (144)
76. The Moody Blues (144)
77. Rod Stewart (143)
78. Glee Cast (142)
79. The Kinks (141)
80. Seal (134)

David Baerwald

81. Joe Cocker (134)
82. Coldplay (130)
83. David Baerwald (solo & work with David + David, 129)
84. The Police (127)
85. Kiss (127)
86. Tom Petty (125)
87. Tim Finn (124)
88. Fats Domino (121)
89. The Clash (121)
90. Del Amitri (120)

Justin Currie, solo artist and former lead singer of Del Amitri

91. Bob Seger (120)
92. Olivia Newton-John (119)
93. The Beach Boys (118)
94. Pat Benatar (118)
95. Tears for Fears (118)
96. Kenny Rogers (117)
97. ZZ Top (117)
98. Santana (116)
99. Madonna (115)
100. Roger Waters (111)

Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Acclaimed Music: Top 100 Albums

First posted 8/5/2020.

Publication:

The Top 100+ Albums

According to Wikipedia, “Acclaimed Music is a website created by Henrik Franzon, a statistician from Stockholm Sweden in September 2001. Franz has statistically aggregated hundreds of published lists that rank songs and albums into aggregated rankings by year, decade, and all-time.” The lists include a ranking of the top 3000 albums, of which the top 100 are listed here. According to the website, this list was last updated 7/15/2018. Also, check out annual picks for album of the year.

1. The Beach Boys Pet Sounds (1966)
2. The Beatles Revolver (1966)
3. Nirvana Nevermind (1991)
4. Velvet Underground & Nico Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
5. The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
6. The Clash London Calling (1979)
7. Marvin Gaye What’s Going On (1971)
8. Radiohead OK Computer (1997)
9. The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street (1972)
10. Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde (1966)

11. Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
12. The Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
13. The Beatles The Beatles (aka “The White Album”) (1968)
14. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced? (1967)
15. Van Morrison Astral Weeks (1968)
16. David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
17. Bruce Springsteen Born to Run (1975)
18. Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
19. Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
20. The Beatles Abbey Road (1969)

21. Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks (1975)
22. The Smiths The Queen Is Dead (1986)
23. Patti Smith Horses (1975)
24. Television Marquee Moon (1977)
25. Michael Jackson Thriller (1982)
26. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland (1968)
27. Arcade Fire Funeral (2004)
28. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
29. Prince Sign ‘O’ the Times (1987)
30. The Doors The Doors (1967)

31. The Beatles Rubber Soul (1965)
32. The Who Who’s Next (1971)
33. The Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet (1968)
34. Talking Heads Remain in Light (1980)
35. Miles Davis Kind of Blue (1959)
36. The Strokes Is This It (2001)
37. Massive Attack Blue Lines (1991)
38. Radiohead Kid A (2000)
39. Ramones Ramones (1976)
40. U2 The Joshua Tree (1987)

41. The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed (1969)
42. R.E.M. Automatic for the People (1992)
43. Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
44. James Brown Live at the Apollo Volume 1 (live, 1962)
45. Joy Division Closer (1980)
46. Stevie Wonder Innervisions (1973)
47. The Pixies Doolittle (1989)
48. The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers (1971)
49. Prince & the Revolution Purple Rain (soundtrack, 1984)
50. Love Forever Changes (1967)

51. Beck Odelay (1996)
52. Joni Mitchell Blue (1971)
53. Neil Young After the Gold Rush (1970)
54. Jeff Buckley Grace (1994)
55. The Stone Roses The Stone Roses (1989)
56. Sly & the Family Stone There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1972)
57. The Band The Band (1969)
58. My Bloody Valentine Loveless (1991)
59. Portishead Dummy (1994)
60. Fleetwood Mac Rumours (1977)

61. John Coltrane A Love Supreme (1965)
62. Sonic Youth Daydream Nation (1988)
63. Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction (1987)
64. Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
65. The Clash The Clash (1977)
66. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band Trout Mask Replica (1969)
67. Joy Division Unknown Pleasures (1979)
68. Otis Redding Otis Blue (1965)
69. R.E.M. Murmur (1983)
70. David Bowie Hunky Dory (1971)

71. John Lennon Plastic Ono Band (1970)
72. Carole King Tapestry (1971)
73. Paul Simon Graceland (1986)
74. De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
75. Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)
76. DJ Shadow Endtroducing… (1996)
77. Oasis What's the Story Morning Glory (1995)
78. The White Stripes Elephant (2003)
79. Radiohead The Bends (1995)
80. U2 Achtung Baby (1991)

81. Jesus and Mary Chain Psychocandy (1985)
82. Miles Davis Bitches Brew (1970)
83. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II (1969)
84. Lou Reed Transformer (1972)
85. Radiohead In Rainbows (2007)
86. Bob Dylan Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
87. Primal Scream Screamadelica (1991)
88. Elvis Costello & The Attractions This Year’s Model (1978)
89. Derek and the Dominos Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
90. The Band Music from Big Pink (1968)

91. Sufjan Stevens Illinois (2005)
92. Tom Waits Rain Dogs (1985)
93. Oasis Definitely Maybe (1994)
94. Aretha Franklin I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)
95. John Lennon Imagine (1971)
96. Van Morrison Moondance (1970)
97. Neil Young Harvest (1972)
98. The Stooges Fun House (1970)
99. The Stooges Raw Power (1973)
100. Pixies Surfer Rosa (1988)


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