2nd Concert of the Choral Series in the season 2016/201730. 3. 2017
The choral output of Sergei Rachmaninov is known worldwide most particularly on account of the famed All-Night Vigil. However, his vocal compositions are much more numerous, including among other works a most interesting standalone piece entitled Mother of God Ever Vigilant in Prayer. Rachmaninov wrote it for mixed choir a cappella, and denoted it a “spiritual concerto in G minor.” Dating from 1893, the large-scale composition is built upon mighty gradations ensued by long passages of calming down. It is characterized by marked contrasts o dynamics, harmony, and pitches of the singing voices.
Igor Stravinsky wrote his highly original Mass in 1948, scoring it for solo voices, mixed choir and double brass quintet. In its musical idiom, he summed up his lifelong compositional experience, using simple devices and opting for an ascetic sonic format achieved by the unconventional instrumental accompaniment. Hence the overall archaic air evoked by this music, which the composer nonetheless spices up every now and then with harsh harmonic and sonic clashes. In its ultimate effect nonetheless the Mass projects more than anything else a Neoclassical message, even bringing in the occasional jazz-inspired intonation.
Arguably no other composer has been as able to incorporate into his vocal output dance elements with such degree of convincingness as Johannes Brahms. His eighteen-part cycle of Liebeslieder Walzer (Love Song Waltzes) is based predominantly on the waltz rhythm, some of its numbers amounting to genuine stylized dances. Throughout the composition´s course, Brahms alternates with great aplomb different tempo types and moods, in dealing with the subject matter common to all its parts, namely, love, mostly approached with a sense of humour and a touch of irony. The inimitable fiery mood of Brahms´s variety of Viennese waltz is embodied here in one of the 19th century´s most impactful choral compositions.