Fatigue once again over took me on a day off yesterday. I was so exhausted physically and mentally I just sat and rested and read all morning. It was good. I did manage an afternoon rehearsal with my violinist. We have been playing a wonderful Mozart Violin Sonata.
Here’s a nice recording if you want a taste. I’m listening to it as I write.
We didn’t play the first movement quite as fast as this recording, but it was still fun. This sonata has really grabbed me. It makes me think of the Mozart of the wonderful operas. It’s a privilege to play. Maybe someday we’ll perform it.
I’ve been thinking about the theme of the piece I am playing Sunday as a postlude. I think that it’s obviously based on the chorale that Mendelssohn quotes.
You can see the shape of the melody, Aus tiefer not. Down a fifth, then back up and then a step up. I think the beautiful opening of the sonata is drawn from this shape, but in major.
I have played and loved this piece for years. Surely I’ve noticed this before. That first measure unpacks the first few notes of the chorale. One can hear it in the soprano line (E down to A then jumping to F#). It’s also present in the pedal part in inversion. The fifth of the melody becomes a fourth and then also moves to the F#. Elegant beautiful stuff. I like that Mendelssohn quotes the melody under the fugue.
Again here is a video if you want a taste.
My copy of John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven arrived in the mail yesterday. I sat down and copied my notes into my own copy this morning. I have been reading the library’s copy. It’s a beautifully made book.
Here’s a passage that I marked. Though the prose is bit purple and subjective, I like this description of Bach and his music.
“The music gives us shafts of insight into the harrowing experiences he [Bach] must have suffered as an orphan, as a lone teenager, and as a grieving husband and father.They show us his fierce dislike of hypocrisy and his impatience with falsification of any sort; but they also reveal the profound sympathy he felt toward those who grieve or suffer in one way or another, or who struggle with their conscience or their beliefs. His music exemplifies this, and it is in part what gives it its authenticity and colossal force. But most of all we hear his joy and sense of delight in celebrating the wonders of the universe and the mysteries of existence– as well as in the thrill of his own creative athleticism. You have only to listen to a single Christmas cantata to experience the festive elation and jubilation in music on an unprecedented scale, one beyond the reach of any other composer.”
John Eliot Gardiner, Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, xxx