Playlist 2017: 6th Commentary

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Time for another catch-up on my Playlist project for 2017. I'm now over half-way towards my goal of 100 pieces this year, and I've yet to repeat a composer. Additions may accelerate this month, as I have more listening time than usual (and in anticipation of having less listening time later in the year).

  • Marianna Martines, Dixit Dominus (1774), 1st movement. I was aware of Martines as a composer for harpsichord, but her choral music is a pleasant revelation. This is a decent amateur performance – good enough for me to want to get my hands on it and make it an even better one!
  • L. Viola Kinney: 'Mother's Sacrifice' (1909). Quite captivating piece, speaking through the languages of both C19th pianism and American popular song. And some extraordinary uses of sequence, too.

    The video includes two more pieces by more recent composers, Dorothy Rudd Moore and Zenobia Powell Perry, so stay on and listen to those too.

  • Corona Schröter, 'Der Erlkönig' (1786). There is a curious symmetry in the account given in the wikipedia article on Schröter of the publication of her Lieder between the self-deprecation in her foreword to the first collection, and the patronising tone of the reviewer.
  • Elisabeth Lutyens, And Suddenly It's Evening (1965). Hat tip to Colin Graham for coming along with a collection of rather fabulous listening suggestions, of this is one. (Oh, and a reading suggestion.) It’s one of those pieces that make you feel that you are becoming a more emotionally and cognitively developed person through the act of listening.
  • Paule MauriceConcerto Giocoso for piano and orchestra (1950). Paule Maurice seems to have one piece that is very widely performed, the Tableaux de Provence for Saxophone, but very little else of her work is out there. This recording is a more than a little old and hissy, but it is at least a good performance, so we can listen through the mess.
  • Roxanna Panufnik, 'Zen Love Song' (2013). Did I mention I’m interested in the control of dissonance? Another fascinating case study.
  • Thea Musgrave, Night Music (1969). This also does interesting things with dissonance, being both complexly post-tonal and very rich and mellifluous. It took me a while to notice the harmonic language though as I was captivated by the orchestral colours.
  • Antonia Bembo, Lamento della Vergine (c. 1697). Venice and Paris both seem to have been at least moderately hospitable places for 17th-century women to make careers in music. You can tell from the way the biographical information about the composers so often mentioned their contemporaries in the same milieu.

    Ah – this is giving me thoughts about tokenism in historiography versus artistic communities that need rather more working through than will fit here…

  • Alma Mahler, Five Lieder for Voice and Piano (1910). I am always boggled by the story of how Alma gave up composing as a condition of her marriage to Gustav Mahler. If he didn’t want a wife who composed, why propose to a composer? Anyway, he recanted on this position (apparently at the suggestion of Sigmund Freud) when they were going through a difficult patch in their marriage, resulting in the publication of these songs.
  • Caterina Assandra, 'O solutaris hostia' (1609), from Motetti a due a tre voce. It is so tantalising, rummaging around in 17th-century Italy. So much music of which there is a record of it having existed, so much lost. Assandra’s Op.2 survives, though her Op. 1 does not.

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