Some composers inspire me a feeling of familiarity, of friendship, the kind of attachment you feel for someone you have known a long time, someone who is far away now, but whose bond with you remains strong, despite the time that has elapsed, despite the distance that separates you and him. Dieterich Buxtehude is one of these composers. A Baroque musician, a paragon for Johann Sebastian Bach and one of the most eminent composers of Northern Germany as we have seen in my first post about him. For today I have selected a secular piece that seems perfect to me either to start the day or to end it.
A little melancholy is appropriate at this time of the year. The opening verse of that poem by Rainer Maria Rilke comes back to my mind: “Herr, es ist Zeit, der Sommer war sehr groß…” I quoted it at full length a year ago in a post on Johannes Brahms. Yes, the summer was impressive and it is time to say good-bye. And so I have picked a piece from the Baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679 – 1745): the Capriccio No. 1 in D major (ZW 182), recorded by the Camerata Bern.
A pleasing tune to enchant you and me, a lively melody to keep us company on a fall day, a companion unburdened by the evils of the world, cheering us up in case we need it or simply giving us some comfort by being there – such is Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Viola d’Amore and Lute in D minor (RV 540), performed by Rachel Barton Pine (viola), Hopkinson Smith (lute) and the ensemble Ars Antigua.
Music as the reflection of the cosmos as it has been created by God – for centuries this idea was at the core of any composition in the Christian world. The order of the seven known celestial bodies – moon, sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – was reflected by the seven tones to be used in music, while the use of chords, metres and intervals was strictly regulated to avoid anything that would contradict the celestial order. Most composers up to the Italian Claudio Monteverdi would respect this.