Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jour de FĂȘte

And it came to pass that the pianist spent part of her day celebrating (sight-plowing) her way through Britten's Ceremony of Carols. (The piano is not a harp. The piano is not a harp. Conductors, will you ever learn?) A quirky mix of the spiritual and the mystical, the piece is also appropriately expectant. Go--now--and listen. It is simultaneously old and new in the ears, a poignant juxtaposition of gospel and testament, modal modulations and sometimes unexpected rhythmic designs. Britten acknowledges the past but leaves us gazing, expectantly, towards ages ahead, to the next and future acts and scenes. Best birthday song ever! Today, in the wings turns one!

5 Comments:

Happy Birthday to In the Wings! If there is a finer blog on the internet, I have yet to find it. Here's to many more years to come.

--Michael

By Blogger Heather, at 8:04 AM  

How I love the Ceremony of Carols...I had the good luck to perform it many times in a boychoir years ago. (Both with harp and piano, and you're right -- the piano isn't a harp, but it can do a pretty creditable job.)

The poem Britten sets for the last movement expresses an extraordinarily subversive religious sentiment:

Ne had the appil take ben
the appil take ben
ne hadde never our lady
a ben hevene quene

(then, punched out in A major chords -- the piece is basically in A minor to this point:)

Blessed be the time
that appil take was.
Therefore we moun singen
Deo Gracias!

It's a real masterpiece. I second your go--now--and listen!

--Tom DePlonty

By Blogger Heather, at 8:05 AM  

Imagine: I once wrote a choral piece where it was agreed that the accompaniment would be two pianos and percussion. When it was nearly finished, I was asked -- and I'm not making this up -- whether one of the piano parts could be harp instead.

(I said no.)

--Michael

By Blogger Heather, at 8:05 AM  

Haha, right on! Maybe I should say that "writing" for the harp is not like "writing" for the piano. The crazy key changes and all those arpeggios, not to mention the descending chains of sixths and fifths: plink, plink, plink. (Pianist thinking: I feel so silly.) And every chord rolled with...self-conscious...grandeur: pa-da-pa-prum!

By Blogger Heather, at 8:05 AM  

Happy Birthday, Wings!

(What do you mean, the piano's not a harp? Can't you just reach inside there and strum a bit?)

--M.C-

By Blogger Heather, at 8:06 AM  

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