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Archive for the ‘George Frideric Handel’ Category

I am back with the hidden gem of the week. This time, I want you to meet Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-1792).

Kraus, born in Miltenberg, in Franconia, studied both music and the law (parental wish). He left for Stockholm in 1778 to apply for a job  at the court of King Gustav III. After unsuccessful attempts, he became vice-Kapellmeister of the Royal Swedish Opera and director of the Royal Academy of Music in 1781. Then, for about 6 years, he traveled Europe, at the king’s expense, to learn about the theatre. It is during this long journey he met, in Vienna, Christoph Willibald Gluck and Joseph Haydn. He also attended the George Frideric Handel Festival in 1785 in London. In 1787, he came back to Stockholm and became Kapellmeister of the Royal Swedish Opera. His protector, the king, was assassinated in 1792. The same year, Kraus died of tuberculosis.

Kraus was a man of theatre, drama and effects. So I thought to give samples from his operatic production.  Aeneas in Carthage was originally composed in 1781 for the inauguration of  the new opera house in Stockholm (it is a retelling of the Dido and Aeneas story but Kraus took some liberties). However the production paused. During 10 years, he worked on this immense opera (a prologue and 5 acts). It was only first performed in 1799, after Kraus’ death.

As for the samples, they have the mp3 format so you can listen directly to them on box.net (no need to download). I present you the overture and 2 other pieces (Tempest and a march)

Aeneas in Carthage: Overture

Aeneas in Carthage: March of the Numidians

Aeneas in Carthage: Tempest

Aeneas in Carthage, Opera Overtures, Ballet Music and Marches

Patrick Gallois/Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä/ Naxos

For more information

Naxos

Amazon

Online Reviews

Classics Today

MusicWeb International

Sources for this post

Wikipedia

Mozart – Kraus

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From Soliman II, performed in 1788 in Stockholm, the overture. An interesting use of turkish instruments.

From Proserpin, composed in 1780, the overture and the first chorus.

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On June 13, 1748, George Frideric completed the score of Solomon. This oratorio, in three acts, is unique since each one depicts a fresco. The first act deals with the Dedication of the Temple and Solomon’s happy marriage with the pharaoh’s daughter. The second act, with the two harlots disputing about the parentage of the baby and the judgement from Solomon. And the third with the visit of Queen Sheba and the expression of different emotions in music. According to Handel scholar, Winton Dean, the composer conceived the work as an example of an ideal society and, consequently, as a tribute to british society and King George II.

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Let’s hear some orchestral pieces, at first.

Solomon: Overture (Andante-allegro moderato)

Solomon: Act III: Arrival of the Queen of Sheba

For more information

Atma Classique

Amazon.com

Online reviews

Classics Today

MusicWeb

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From the excellent 1984 Gardiner recording, let’s give a look to the “May no rash intruder” chorus, from the Act I, where Handel depicts the nightingales with nice strings effects.

Solomon: Act I: Chorus “May no rash intruder”

Lyrics

May no rash intruder disturb their soft hours;
To form fragrant pillows, arise, oh ye flow’rs!
Ye zephirs, soft-breathing, their slumbers prolong,
While nightingales lull them to sleep with their song.

Credits

John Eliot Gardiner/English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir/Philips

For more information

Amazon.com

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We could not end this post without the rousing last chorus from the great Reuss/Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin/RIAS Kammerchor recording on Harmonia Mundi.

Solomon: Act III: Chorus “Praise the Lord”

Lyrics

Chorus 1
Praise the Lord with harp and tongue!
Praise Him all ye old and young,
He’s in mercy ever strong.

Chorus 2
Praise the Lord through ev’ry state,
Praise Him early, praise Him late,
God alone is good and great.

Full Chorus
Let the loud Hosannahs rise,
Widely spreading through the skies,
God alone is just and wise.

For more information

Harmonia Mundi

Amazon.com

Online reviews

Classics Today

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Sources for this post

Libretto List

Winton Dean, “Solomon, an oratorio of pageantry and pomp”, notes from the Gardiner/Philips CD.

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How to begin a blog properly? Well, by the beginning!

When I think of a beginning, I think of Joseph Haydn‘s Creation (Die Schöpfung), oratorio composed between 1796 and 1798 and influenced in part by George Frideric Handel’s choral style (Haydn visited Britain in 1791-1792 and 1794-1795 and attended to many Handel concerts).

The libretto (“The Creation of the World”), offered by Johann Peter Salomon (via Thomas Linley), is based on Genesis, the book of Psalms and John Milton’s Paradise Lost and was possibly offered to Handel but the saxon maestro did not use it anyway.  The author is unknown but there is a possibility that Mary Delany, a friend of Handel, wrote it during the 1740s. One of her letters to a certain Mrs Dewes gives us a hint:

And how do you think I have lately been employed? Why, I have made a drama for an oratorio, out of Milton’s Paradise Lost, to give Mr. Handel to compose it.

Whoever was the author, the baron Gottfried van Swieten, an avid Handel music fan, translated it in german, not without difficulty.

As for the music, I will present you the three first movements of The Creation. The samples come from the Andreas Spering/Capella Augustina/VokalEnsemble Köln production and published by Naxos.

I- Prelude (The Representation of Chaos)  http://www.box.net/shared/04y4tako5h

II- Recitative-chorus (In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth): The creation of light  http://www.box.net/shared/e2pbu43fe3

III-Aria-chorus (Now vanished by the holy beams): Defeat of Satan http://www.box.net/shared/odmbbem7zx

For more information

http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.557380-81

http://www.amazon.com/Haydn-Sch%C3%B6pfung-Creation-Hanno-Muller-Brachmann/dp/B0007XHKZI

Some reviews of this CD are available online

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/May05/Haydn_creation_NAXOS_611007374.htm

http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=8796

Sources for this post

VIGNAL, Marc. Joseph Haydn. [Paris], Fayard, 1988. Les indispensables de la musique (french)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Creation_%28Haydn%29

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