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Noon Edition

Tune Your Harps

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Welcome to Harmonia…I’m Angela Mariani.

String instruments like the violin, viola da gamba, guitar, and lute are usually tuned in one or two standard ways. Sometimes, though, composers enjoyed bringing out different tone colors from both familiar and unusual instruments through a technique called scordatura, Italian for “mistunings” – but perhaps more precisely described as “alternate tunings.” Later, we’ll head to France to hear Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music in our featured release The Three Marys: Liturgical Drama and Polyphony of Medieval France.

[Theme music fades out]

 

5-Minute optional News Cutaway

MUSIC TRACK

Julian Prégardien : Orpheus, songs, arias and madrigals
Teatro del mondo / dir. Andres Küppers / (featuring tenor Julian Prégardien)
CPO 2018 / B079PDLQSQ
Anonymous, 17th Century
Tr. 16 Passagagli [17th Century, Biblioteca del Conservatorio L. Cherubini di Firenze, dal ms D2358] (4:44) 

Passagagli from a seventeenth-century Florentine collection. We heard Andreas Küppers, performing on harpsichord with the lute-stop engaged, directing Teatro del mondo, from the 2018 CPO release Julian Prégardien: Orpheus, songs, arias, and madrigals.

[Music fades out]

 

Segment A: Mistuned Fiddles

Have you ever been to a concert and thought, wow, it takes them forever to tune?! Instruments that have strings—from the plucked lute and guitar, to the bowed violin and viola da gamba family, to the hurdy gurdy, harpsichord, and some drums--all require strings to be precisely tightened in order to play in tune. There are standard ways to tune these instruments—for example, on the violin, we tune the strings, from lowest to highest, to the notes G, D, A, and E. This hour on Harmonia, we’ll explore tunings that aren’t what we expect. 

We’ll start with a piece you may be familiar with, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite no. 5 in C Minor. In this piece, the player tunes down the highest sounding cello string, usually an A, down to a G. This retuning puts the strings at C, G, D, and G. The retuning allows the instrument to resonate differently than usual, perhaps producing a richer sound in the key of C Minor than the standard tuning. It does present substantial challenges to the performer, who must finger notes a step higher than usual to get the same note to sound. We’ll hear the opening Prélude and closing Gigue to Bach’s fifth cello suite, performed by Gyöngy Erödi.

MUSIC TRACK

Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1, 2, 5, BWV 1007, 1008, 1011 (Erödi)
Gyöngy Erödi, cello
Carpe Diem 2018 / B07HKYGKD5
Johann Sebastian Bach
Tr. 13 Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011 : I. Prélude (6:56)
Tr. 18 Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011 : VI. Gigue (2:09) 

We heard the Prélude and Gigue from Johann Sebastian Bach’s fifth cello suite. Gyöngy Erödi was the performer on that 2018 Carpe Diem recording.

The process of tuning a string instrument to a non-standard tuning is called scordatura, Italian for “mistuning.” German baroque composer Johann Pachelbel enjoyed writing for violins in scordatura. In his six chamber suites titled “A Musical Delight,” two violinists use non-standard tunings. Although today scordatura is a technique usually only practiced by professional performers, Pachelbel utilizes scordatura in these suites to familiarize amateur performers with different tunings. We’ll hear the Sonatina, Allemande, Courante, Aria, and Adagio from Pachelbel’s Partita in G Major.

MUSIC TRACK

Johann Pachelbel: Un orage d'avril
Gli incogniti
Harmonia Mundi 2016 / B01G660U0Q
John Pachelbel
Tr. 19 Musicalische Ergötzung : I. Sonatina (1:46)
Tr. 20 Musicalische Ergötzung : II. Allemande (1:23)
Tr. 22 Musicalische Ergötzung : IV. Courante (01:01)
Tr. 23 Musicalische Ergötzung : V. Aria (0:39)
Tr. 26 Musicalische Ergötzung : Finale: Adagio (:54) 

Five movements from Pachelbel’s Partita in G Major, from the set of suites called “A Musical Delight.”

Like Pachelbel and Bach, Vivaldi was also fascinated by scordatura. In addition to this purposeful mistuning, Vivaldi enjoyed including some more unusual instruments in his work. Vivaldi’s oratorio Juditha Triumphans features a cornucopia of unusual instruments, including chalumeau, lyra viol, and viola d’amore. We’ll hear aria “Quanto magis generosa,” featuring viola da gamba--in scordatura--and mezzo-soprano.

MUSIC TRACK 

Juditha Triumphans
Orchestra of the Antipodes / dir. Attilio Cremonesi
ABC Classics 2017 (rerelease) / B078YJ7MQW
Antonio Vivaldi
Tr. 15 Juditha triumphans devicta Holofernes barbarie, RV 644 Part I: Aria: Quanto magis generosa (Juditha) (8:04) 

The Aria “Quanto magis generosa” from Vivaldi’s oratorio Juditha Triumphans featuring mezzo-soprano Anne-Sally Russel and viola d’amore player Alice Evans.

You’re listening to Harmonia. I’m Angela Mariani.

Midpoint break

 

:59 Midpoint Break Music Bed: Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1, 2, 5, BWV 1007, 1008, 1011 (Erödi), Gyöngy Erödi, cello, Carpe Diem 2018 / B07HKYGKD5, Johann Sebastian Bach: Excerpt of Tr. 17 Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011 : V. Gavotte I-II

[fade out music bed]

 

Segment B: Imagined Harps and Feature: The Three Marys 

Welcome back! This hour on Harmonia, we’re exploring instrument tunings and mistunings. In this segment, we’ll hear metaphorical rather than literal mistunings of instruments. First, a piece about a harp, by Handel; then, we’ll hear perhaps the most famous musician of all, Orpheus, on one of the many instruments he’s been depicted playing.

In “tune your harps,” from Handel’s early oratorio Esther, the singer calls believers to tune their harps and sings a prayer to God, reminding us of many Psalms of David, often depicted with a harp.

MUSIC TRACK

As steals the morn: Handel arias & scenes for tenor
Mark Padmore, tenor / The English Consort / Dir. Andrew Manze
Harmonia Mundi 2007 / B00B4BASJW
George Frideric Handel
Tr. 14 Esther, HWV 50a, Act I: Tune your harps (4:19)

“Tune your harps” from Handel’s Esther. We heard tenor Mark Padmore with The English Consort directed by Andrew Manze.

Orpheus, a famous musician of Greek mythology, has been depicted playing lute, harp, psaltery, violin, and lirone, to name a few. In Maurice Greene’s song, “Orpheus with his lute,” we hear the narrator describing how Orpheus used his lute to interact with nature. The text is from Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. Here, Greene uses recorder and lute to create an image of Orpheus.

MUSIC TRACK

Julian Prégardien : Orpheus, songs, arias and madrigals
Teatro del mondo / dir. Andreas Küppers / (featuring tenor Julian Prégardien)
CPO 2018 / B079PDLQSQ
Maurice Greene
Tr. 3 Orpheus with his lute (2:14)

We heard “Orpheus with his lute” by Maurice Greene. Tenor Julian Prégardien performeding with Teatro del mondo directed by Andreas Küppers.

Turning away from the topic of alternate tunings: our featured release this hour is called The Three Marys: Liturgical Drama and Polyphony of Medieval France. In this 2018 release, Eya: [EH-yah] Ensemble for Medieval Music, bring us the liturgical drama Le Trois Maries, or The Three Marys. This drama tells the journey of three Marys—the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Mary (the sister of Lazarus)—as they approach the sepulcher of Jesus.

Here are scenes 4 and 6  from The Three Marys. 

MUSIC TRACK

The Three Marys: Liturgical Drama and Polyphony of Medieval France
Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music
Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music 2018 / B079W92W55
French, 14th Century
Tr. 8 The Three Marys: Scene 4, Whom do you seek (2:27)
Tr. 6 The Three Marys: Scene 6, Approaching the Tomb (2:55) 

We heard the opening scene from The Three Marys, fourteenth-century French liturgical drama performed by ensemble Eya. Founded in 2010, Eya brings Medieval music for women’s voices to Washington DC and beyond. The ensemble includes singer-director Allison Mondel, mezzo-soprano soprano Crossley Hawn, and Kristen Dubenion Smith, with a number of guest artists.

Next: “Neuma,” again from our featured release The Three Marys. Neuma, or neumes, were the main form of notation in Western music before the five-line staff we see today. Neumes indicate melodic contour and rhythm. In some cases, the word “neuma” also referred to a pattern or formular for identifying a medieval mode.  In this piece, Neuma is an un-texted tune sung by three female voices.

MUSIC TRACK

The Three Marys: Liturgical Drama and Polyphony of Medieval France
Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music
Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music 2018 / B079W92W55
French, 14th Century
Tr. 7 Neuma Tr. 7 Roland : Act III Scene 6: Chaconne (6:38) 

“Neuma” performed by Eya, Ensemble for Medieval Music. 

We’ll conclude with “Dic Nobis, Maria,” from the end of The Three Marys, fourteenth-century French liturgical drama.

MUSIC TRACK

The Three Marys: Liturgical Drama and Polyphony of Medieval France
Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music
Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music 2018 / B079W92W55
French, 14th Century
Tr. 17 The Three Marys Scene Six, Pt. II: “Dic Nobis, Maria” (2:17)

“Dic Nobis Maria,” performed by the Washington, DC-based women’s ensemble, Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music. That was from their 2018 recording The Three Marys: Liturgical Drama and Polyphony of Medieval France.

CONCLUSION

Harmonia is a production of WFIU. Support comes from Early Music America which strengthens and celebrates early music by supporting the people and organizations that perform, study, and find joy in it. …on the web at EarlyMusicAmerica-DOT-org. Additional resources come from the William and Gayle Cook Music Library at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

We welcome your thoughts about any part of this program, or about early music in general. Contact us at harmonia early music dot org.

The writer for this edition of Harmonia was Sarah Huebsch Schilling. 

Thanks to our studio engineer Michael Paskash, and our production team: Wendy Gillespie, Elizabeth Clark, LuAnn Johnson and John Bailey. I’m Angela Mariani, inviting you to join us again for the next edition of Harmonia.

[Fade out theme music]

(Theme Music Bed: Ensemble Alcatraz, Danse Royale, Elektra Nonesuch 79240-2 [ASIN: B000005J0B], T. 12 La Prime Estampie Royal)

Dutch painter Gerard van Honthorst depiction of King David Playing the Harp.

Dutch painter Gerard van Honthorst's depiction of "King David Playing the Harp," looking toward the heavens, 1622. (Google Art Project, Wikimedia)

Have you ever been to a concert and thought, wow, it takes them forever to tune?! Instruments that have strings—from the plucked lute and guitar, to the bowed violin and viola da gamba family, to the hurdy gurdy, harpsichord, and some drums--all require strings to be precisely tightened in order to play in tune. There are standard ways to tune these instruments—for example, on the violin, we tune the strings, from lowest to highest, to the notes G, D, A, and E. This hour on Harmonia, we’ll explore tunings that aren’t what we expect, including scordatura, Italian for “mistunings” – but perhaps more precisely described as “alternate tunings.”

The Three Marys: Liturgical Drama and Polyphony of Medieval France is our featured release performed by Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music.

PLAYLIST

News Cutaway:
Julian Prégardien : Orpheus, songs, arias and madrigals
Teatro del mondo / dir. Andres Küppers / (featuring tenor Julian Prégardien)
CPO 2018 / B079PDLQSQ
Anonymous, 17th Century
Tr. 16 Passagagli [17th Century, Biblioteca del Conservatorio L. Cherubini di Firenze, dal ms D2358] (4:44)

Segment A:
Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1, 2, 5, BWV 1007, 1008, 1011 (Erödi)
Gyöngy Erödi, cello
Carpe Diem 2018 / B07HKYGKD5
Johann Sebastian Bach
Tr. 13 Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011 : I. Prélude (6:56)
Tr. 18 Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011 : VI. Gigue (2:09)

Johann Pachelbel: Un orage d'avril
Gli incogniti
Harmonia Mundi 2016 / B01G660U0Q
John Pachelbel
Tr. 19 Musicalische Ergötzung : I. Sonatina (1:46)
Tr. 20 Musicalische Ergötzung : II. Allemande (1:23)
Tr. 22 Musicalische Ergötzung : IV. Courante (01:01)
Tr. 23 Musicalische Ergötzung : V. Aria (0:39)
Tr. 26 Musicalische Ergötzung : Finale: Adagio (:54)

Juditha Triumphans
Orchestra of the Antipodes / dir. Attilio Cremonesi
ABC Classics 2017 (rerelease) / B078YJ7MQW
Antonio Vivaldi
Tr. 15 Juditha triumphans devicta Holofernes barbarie, RV 644 Part I: Aria: Quanto magis generosa (Juditha) (8:04)

Theme Music Bed: Ensemble Alcatraz, Danse Royale, Elektra Nonesuch 79240-2 [ASIN: B000005J0B], T. 12 La Prime Estampie Royal

:59 Midpoint Break Music Bed: Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1, 2, 5, BWV 1007, 1008, 1011 (Erödi), Gyöngy Erödi, cello, Carpe Diem 2018 / B07HKYGKD5, Johann Sebastian Bach: Excerpt of Tr. 17 Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011 : V. Gavotte I-II

Segment B:
As steals the morn: Handel arias & scenes for tenor
Mark Padmore, tenor / The English Consort / Dir. Andrew Manze
Harmonia Mundi 2007 / B00B4BASJW
George Frideric Handel
Tr. 14 Esther, HWV 50a, Act I: Tune your harps (4:19)

Julian Prégardien : Orpheus, songs, arias and madrigals
Teatro del mondo / dir. Andreas Küppers / (featuring tenor Julian Prégardien)
CPO 2018 / B079PDLQSQ
Maurice Greene
Tr. 3 Orpheus with his lute (2:14)

Featured Release:
The Three Marys: Liturgical Drama and Polyphony of Medieval France
Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music
Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music 2018 / B079W92W55
French, 14th Century
Tr. 8 The Three Marys: Scene 4, Whom do you seek (2:27)
Tr. 6 The Three Marys: Scene 6, Approaching the Tomb (2:55)
Tr. 7 Neuma Tr. 7 Roland : Act III Scene 6: Chaconne (6:38)
Tr. 17 The Three Marys Scene Six, Pt. II: “Dic Nobis, Maria” (2:17)

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