“For behold, darkness shall cover the earth”, recitative for Bass from “Messiah” by George Frederic Handel:
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and gross darkness the people:
but the Lord shall arise upon thee,
and His glory shall be seen upon thee.
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light,
and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
The third movement from Symphony no. 7, “Leningrad”, Op. 60, by Dmitri Shostakovich:
I know many people dismiss the Leningrad symphony as wartime propaganda, and don’t rank it among one of Shostakovich’s better works, but I love this particular movement, especially in contrast to the famous, bombastic opening movement. The almost-alien, plangent, stark opening chords in the woodwind are to me very evocative of Russia, and of the desolation of a besieged city. I also find the way that Shostakovich has the woodwind cut out at the end of their opening phrase, leaving the strings to hold the note, to be a particularly effective trick of orchestration.
The later variations on the theme, embellished by the violins as a mournful dance, is also very moving.
It is also quite fun to follow along with the score on the YouTube video.
“Moonlight”, the third movement of “Sea Interludes”, a suite of four pieces taken from Benjamin Britten’s opera “Peter Grimes”, performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conducted here by Leonard Bernstein at what I believe was his final concert:
“Peter Grimes” is one of my favourite operas, and has been since I went to a concert performance by the London Symphony Orchestra with Glenn Winslade in the title role several years ago.
Against the backdrop of a lush, evocative depiction of life in a 19th century fishing village in East Anglia, the opera tells the story of how a vengeful and gossiping community harrangue and eventually cast out Peter Grimes, a local misfit fisherman.
This is one of several “interlude” pieces which Britten wrote to separate the various acts of the opera, this one coming after a particularly climactic scene. The orchestral depiction of the moonlight on the still, calm sea, is quite breathtaking.
Leonard Bernstein takes a very slow tempo in this performance, but the stilling effect is so strong that I almost feel that I am gazing out at the sea on a cold night in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
“Ave Verum Corpus” by Wolfang Amadeus Mozart, performed here by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
Ave, verum corpus
natum de Maria Virgine,
Vere passum immolatum
in Cruce pro homine,
Cujus latus perforatum
unda fluxit et sanguine,
Esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.
It’s Friday, it has been a long week, so I think that something melodic and uplifting is in order today.
The final movement of Dvořák’s Symphony no. 8, performed here by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Zubin Mehta.
My favourite performance of this piece was at a London Symphony Orchestra concert conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas several years ago, and of course the LSO’s famous brass section played the blazing fanfare sections exceedingly well.
Wishing all my readers a good weekend, whatever your plans may be.