ClassicalRap is a forum for discussion and information on classical music genres from the Baroque through the 20th Century eras in particular. Information will be provided on the various genres of classical music in these eras, and discussions will involve the lives of composers, their works, and standard and new recording releases. This is not a blog about Rap music.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Beethoven Symphonies (Almost) Live (Part Nine)

The Choral Symphony

Beethoven's manuscript of the 9th Symphony
Oh friends, not these tones!
Rather let us raise our voices in more pleasing 
And more joyful sounds!
Joy!  Joy!

If Beethoven had lived to complete his 10th symphony, how would he have outdone himself from the 9th?  That is a question that can't be answered of course, so it is frivolous to try; but still a question that should be asked when considering his Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Opus 125 "Choral Symphony."  This is by far Beethoven's longest symphony.  He departs significantly from the traditional symphony and introduces a new tradition by including parts for vocal soloists and choir in the last movement "Ode to Joy;"  a tradition that would be imitated by other symphony composers, most significantly Gustav Mahler.  I've heard many performances of the 4th movement of this symphony, and one can often notice quite a contrast between the quality in performance of the first 3 movements compared with the fourth.  This is due to the addition of human voices; which require an element of refinement.  If done well as the following performance demonstrates, it actually adds something quite magnificent to the symphony.  If done poorly it actually detracts from the magnificence of the symphony.  Thus, a conductor who is able to control all of the performance ensembles (3 to be exact - orchestra, small vocal ensemble and choir in addition to the vocal solo performances), can achieve quite an astonishing display of beauty and joy.

The best live performance on YouTube I could find comes from Leipzig, Germany with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and the Opera Choir of Leipzig conducted by Ricardo Chailly

II: Molto vivace (Part One)  Unfortunately the video marked "part two" is exactly the same as this one.  I left a note to the poster asking them to correct this.  If it gets corrected I will post a link to the 2nd part here.  Addendum:  I heard back from the poster and it was explained to me that the two clips are not identical.  Well you decide.  Here's the 2nd clip:

II: Molto vivace (Part Two)

Leipzig New Gewandhaus

Joyful, Joyful!

In 1907 Henry van Dyke, an American clergyman wrote a poem entitled Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee, intending to set the words to the melody from the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony. The result was one of Christianity's favorite hymns.

Here's the lyrics:

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other; lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o'er us, Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Son-ward in the triumph song of life. 

Modern Approaches

The hymn as performed in the film  Sister Act II.

Music from Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film A Clockwork Orange

No comments:

Post a Comment