Author Topic: Medieval Religious Music Drama  (Read 734 times)

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Online Mandryka

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Medieval Religious Music Drama
« on: January 16, 2020, 12:07:43 AM »
I keep coming across these things, and then forgetting about them. So I want to have a place to note their existence and any ideas about them. Hence this thread.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 12:11:49 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Medieval Religious Musical Drama
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2020, 12:11:33 AM »


This makes a big effect. I'm not sure if the songs were presented as a drama in the 13th century, or whether that's Peres's doing. He gets over the potentially boring, highly repetitive, somewhat simple music by using singers who know all about Corsican ornamentation.  These guys can declaim the words, and make it come alive. That's what you need in this sort of thing. The result is stunning -- a fabulous thing to listen to. Good little essay by Jean-Francois Labie in the booklet.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 01:02:32 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Medieval Religious Music Drama
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2020, 06:28:00 AM »
As far as I can see there are three recordings of Ordo Virtutum (Hildegard), viz.

            

and there are two recordings which include substantial reworkings and music inspired by Hildegard, viz

     

And there are these recordings, which I have just ordered, so I can't comment on the style. The second one looks like it's the sort of thing I like.

     

Much of the music was written in the same notation as church chant, I don't know what that implies about performance style.

At the moment I'm very much enjoying the disarmingly humble and restrained style of the BBC video with Vox Animae. There is a release of some of the sound files with the same group here, but it's very incomplete. I'm not sure if it's the same as the BBC recording.




I haven't explored the video, I've ripped all the sound from the images -- if anyone wants the sound files they can PM me.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2020, 06:54:51 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Medieval Religious Music Drama
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2020, 07:12:11 AM »
I think the ECM recording is very well done; listening right now.  Ordo Virtutum is her major work, and there are several recordings of it on Spotify.  But I haven't ever read anything about it; here's some info from Wikipedia:

Quote
The subject of the play is typical for a musical drama. It shows no biblical events, no depiction of a saint's life, and no miracles. Instead, Ordo Virtutum is about the struggle for a human soul, or Anima, between the Virtues and the Devil. The idea that Hildegard is trying to develop in Ordo Virtutum is the reconnection between the "creator and creation"

The piece can be divided as follows:

Part I: Prologue in which the Virtues are introduced to the Patriarchs and Prophets who marvel at the Virtues.

Part II: We hear the complaints of souls that are imprisoned in bodies. The (for now) happy Soul enters and her voice contrasts with the unhappy souls. However, the Soul is too eager to skip life and go straight to Heaven. When the Virtues tell her that she has to live first, the Devil seduces her away to worldly things.

Part III: The Virtues take turns identifying and describing themselves while the Devil occasionally interrupts and expresses opposing views and insults. This is the longest section by far and, although devoid of drama or plot, the musical elements of this section make it stand out.

Part IV: The Soul returns, repentant. Once the Virtues have accepted her back, they turn on the Devil, whom they bind. Together they conquer the Devil and then God is praised.

Part V: A procession of all the characters.

Thanks for mentioning the BBC film, it is available on Amazon Prime, so I'll be watching that today.

Online Mandryka

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Re: Medieval Religious Music Drama
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2020, 01:50:24 PM »
The Bordesholmer Marienklage is a 15th century Easter play. It was reconstructed by Sequentia, there was a television film of their work and this CD



The booklet of the CD contains this translation of the Latin note to one of the manuscripts of the play. I think it gives a tremendous insight into the way singing happened at the time, the way that, in this part of Germany at least, music was supposed to be performed expressively and dramatically, even in a quasi-liturgical context like this. This note stands to 15th century performance practice as Frescobaldi's prefaces stand to keyboard performance two centuries later.

Quote
This is a deeply devotional lament of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary with a very pitiful and religious preface. The Blessed Virgin Mary leads this lament with four pious performers very devotedly on Good Friday before midday, in the church before the choir on an elevated place, or, when the weather is fine, outside the church. This lament is not a sport and not a brief affair, but grieving, weeping and religious compassion with the glorious Virgin Mary. When it is performed by good and pious people on Good Friday, it moves the people standing around, as an audience and as individuals, to pious weeping and to compassion in the same way as does a sermon on the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is time pressure on Good Friday because of a sermon on the suffering of Jesus Christ. the Blessed Virgin may perform this lament with her people earlier, as on the Monday after Palm Sunday before midday. This lament is to be performed without haste, comfortably in two and a half hours' time. And everything that the five performers do should not be done in haste. but neither should it be done too slowly, but in a very moderate and correct way. Of those people who play the parts. Jesus should be a pious priest. Mary a young fellow. The evangelist John should be a priest. Mary Magdalene and the mother of John are young fellows.

Jesus should be vested in a red chasuble, John the same. Jesus and John should wear crowns made of paper: Jesus's crown should have a red cross in front and in back. Mary should be clothed with garments like those of Mary Magdalene on Easter night. John should have a sword made of wood, with a sheath, that he holds in his hands when he declaims his verses. And John should touch the heart and breast of Mary with it. And whenever he performs an action, then he lays down the sword immediately. A well-dressed youngster can be selected to hold the sword, as well as the silk cloth with which the Blessed Virgin covers the loin of the crucified Christ. When the Lord Jesus appears with the other four performers at the beginning, he carries a cross devotedly in his hands. After he has sung the verse "Quoniam tribulacio proxima est", he immediately puts down the cross. And when the others are singing the lament, then the Lord Jesus should be holding the cross in front of him. And whenever he declaims his part, then he puts down the cross and places it upright in the ground. The Blessed Virgin stands on the right hand of Jesus with Mary Magdalene. John on the left with his mother. When the Virgin declaims her part, then she goes to the middle and turns towards her son to the east, one time to the west, one time to the north and then one time to the south, to the sword of Simeon which the blessed John holds on his chest. At one time the Blessed Virgin spreads out her arms, another time she raises her hands and her eyes to her Son: everything is to be done in moderation. Whenever she has finished performing any part, then she goes back to stand in her position on the right side of the stage. The others do exactly the same. When they come on the stage and when they go off, they form three couples: first the Lord Jesus with the cross and with John, after them the Blessed Virgin with Mary Magdalene, and last of all the mother of John with the director. The psalm "Circumdederunt me viri mendaces" is sung from the beginning until the prepared place is reached. When the psalm has ended Jesus alone sings the verse "Quoniam tribulacio proxima est" with his face turned always to the west. Each person in turn should present his verses devoutly and lamentingly in the same way and with restraint. When Jesus has finished the verse "Quoniam tribulacio", then the evangelist John laments immediately to the audience.

Is this medieval music? It sounds medieval to me, despite being written after Du Fay had died.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2020, 01:57:28 PM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Medieval Religious Music Drama
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2020, 06:16:18 AM »


Regarding the above recoding of the Bordesholmer Marienklage, it is tremendously evocative and atmospheric, and it may well be my personal favourite of all the medieval (?) religious dramas I’ve heard on record. There’s a fair amount of spoken word, in low German of course, but most (not all) is on its own track and can be easily jumped.


The performance is not informed in all respects. The nota  I posted above makes it clear that young men would have taken the part of the ladies, but here ladies play ladies. And what fine dames they are too - made as it was before Barbara Thornton‘s untimely decease.

It needs good hifi to have its effect I think.


Listening to it with a recent discussion of expression in Machaut’s mass still fresh in my mind, I couldn’t help think that it’s a great shame that Sequentia didn’t perform any medieval masses. Of course a mass is a mass and not another thing, and 14th century Avignon or Reims  is not 15th century Schleswig-Holstein,  but nevertheless I think their experience with dramatic paraliturgical music, and with church chant, would, or rather could, make for something interesting
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 06:24:53 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Medieval Religious Music Drama
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2020, 09:17:03 AM »
                              

Ludus Danielis has been recorded at least ten times, in many different ways.

In addition there's is a rock opera version, from the Pfalztheater in Kaiserslautern, Germany, conceived by  Günter Werno



It's a great shame that Clemencic includes so much spoken word, rather uninspiringly declaimed. He has some really committed and imaginative singers.  I have a soft spot for The Harp Consort, and today I've been exploring for the first time NY Ensemble for Early Music in this music.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2020, 01:15:48 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline deprofundis

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Re: Medieval Religious Music Drama
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2020, 07:41:16 PM »
Excellent, I love Ludus Danielis, very surreal music, very nice find I have a couple of these as well.