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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Musical Interlude (With Update)

Update: There will be no further blog posts here at Always On Watch until Mr. AOW and I have sufficiently recovered from the horrible respiratory virus (Influenza?) that felled both of us last week.  Intermittent comment moderation. Thank you for your patience.

Last October, I attended a choral concert of Finnish music. One of the selections was Jaakko Mäntyjärvi's Come Away, Death:

A great deal of beautiful music is still being composed, and concertgoers still attend the offerings on a regular basis — some of the offerings free of charge. What a shame that more of us don't take advantage of the many musical opportunities that we have!


  1. The Still Small Voice Still Speaks Amidst the Whirlwind.

    WIKI says: "As a composer, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi describes himself as an eclectic traditionalist: eclectic in that he adopts influences from a number of styles and periods, fusing them into his own idiom; traditionalist in that his musical language is based on a traditional approach and uses the resources of modern music only sparingly."

    A very happy discovery, AOW! Don't know how you found this beautiful soul from Finland, but I'm glad you did. Thank you.

    Yet more proof that "The Great are Rarely Famous, and the Famous Rarely Great."

    1. FT,
      If not for the concert I attended last October, I'd never have found this music.

      Every season, this choral group performs music unknown to most of us -- eve those of us who think that we know a great deal about the choral music repertoire. The discoveries are astounding!

    2. Addendum: the concert setting -- in the case of the concert I attended in October, a church sanctuary with excellent acoustics for a capella) greatly enhanced the experience of listening to this piece.

    3. I'll second FT. Pretty good dig, AOW.
      A moving piece.

      You're right about the attendance at concerts.
      Boston has a very healthy classical music situation but there simply aren't many young attendees.

      Except for the BSO the cost is quite a bit lower than some hair band reunion concert, also.

  2. “The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located
    will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them,and what came through them was longing.

    "These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols,breaking the hearts of their worshippers.

    "For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

    ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

  3. Another -- entirely different -- evocative modern setting by Gerald Fini of this same text from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night:


    Paul Carey Jones, baritone
 Jane Samuel, pianist

Paul Carey Jones is a Welsh baritone of considerable merit.

    About the piece:


Composer: Gerald Finzi
"Come away, death!"
from: Let Us Garlands Bring, Op.18

    - Five Shakespeare Songs for baritone and string orchestra




1.'Come away death'
2.'Who is Silvia?
3.'Fear no more the heat o' the Sun'
4.'Oh mistress mine'
5.'It was a lover and his lass

    Come away, death by William Shakespeare


Come away, come away, death,
And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath;
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.

My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,

    O, prepare it!

My part of death, no one so true
Did share it.


Not a flower, not a flower sweet,
On my black coffin let there be strown;
Not a friend, not a friend greet

    My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown:

A thousand thousand sighs to save,
Lay me, O, where

    Sad true lover never find my grave,

    To weep there!


Other artists who recorded this song cycle:


Janet Baker, Russell Braun, Bryn Terfel, Roderick Williams, Stephen Varcoe, Jonathan Lemalu,

  4. And yet another modern setting of Come away, death -- this time for lute and soprano by Peter Croton, sung here by soprano, Evelyn Tubb, accompanied on the lute by the composer.


    Astonishing what a variety of captivating expressive responses good material can draw, isn't it?

  5. Yet another lovely setting:


    Music by Arthur Quilter

    Ian Bostridge, tenor

    Julius Drake, piano

  6. I wonder where the next generation of Classical music lovers will come from. The last time I attended the Philadelphia Orchestra the youngins were few in number. I doubt few grow up with Classical music in the home, playing as we all sat down and ate dinner together.

    1. Take comfort in this, Bunkerville. What-we-call "classical music" today has Never been "popular" -- at least not in the sense that manufactured "Teen idols like Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Madonna, Eminem, P. Diddy Coombs, et al. been popular. Modern "popular" music has been very skillfully PUSHED in the American Public by highly skilled Master Manipulators in Show Bizz the Advertising Industry. These forces have SEDUCED several generations now into thinking Classical Music is to Rock 'n Rap as the Bicycle is to super-Hot Rod or a Limousine.

      That's right FAKE, MISLEADING, largely SELF-DESTRUCTIVE non values have been successfully promoted while REAL ones have been deliberately, ruthlessly, systematically SUPPRESSED. The so-called EDUCATIONAL Establishment has had a great deal to do with this as well.

      Everyone needs to be relentlessly, systematically, EXPOSED to GREAT and GOOD things openly enjoyed and admired by their elders and mentors if there is to be any hope for younger generations to escape from the deadly trap of being CONDITIONED by EVIL PERVERTS to worship JUNK, GARBAGE, FILTH, CORRUPTION and POISON.

      My position is unpopular, but I know it to be the truth, because I have WItNESSED our transformation from a decent, healthy, fun-loving, kind-hearted people with respect for one another and at least a modicum of reverence for things regarded as "great" to the stinking mess too many of us have become today.

      The ascendancy of degenerate popular music, and its many cultural offshoots is the result of a deliberate political ploy -- a concerted effort -- on the part of The Oligarchs who have sought for over a hundred years to tear us down, so they can eventually ENSLAVE us.

      Meanwhile, we'd do well to remember that GOD is Eternal, Immutable and Ever-Present no matter WHAT "we" do to try to avoid, evade or defeat Him.

      " ... The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away .."

      And meanwhile, be glad and celebrate your own ability to appreciate virtue and true beauty. Salvation only occurs individually -- never collectively.

  7. your words are so powerful...........amen.

  8. Everyone needs to be relentlessly, systematically, EXPOSED to GREAT and GOOD things openly enjoyed ...
    Sounds a little extreme, FT. A relentless, systematic exposure is as unlikely to produce enthusiasm and inquisitiveness as school prayer was going to produce "godliness".
    Compulsion is the tool of authoritarianism.

    In much of the country the issue is exposure and distribution.
    It is very difficult to swim against the tide of social media.

    I have been reading a ext on films various "New Waves" in the 60's. These movements were quite popular overseas and generated a real explosion of creative, high quality film making.
    But it took a long time to crack the distribution mechanism in the U.S. and even then it's estimated that viewers in America of the French New Wave were less than a couple million and concentrated in the Northeast corridor.
    British, Japanese, East German, Czech didn't do even that well.

    But they survive and find new audiences every generation.
    It's unfortunate that when the arts depend on a capitalist distribution system that it's the least common denominator that is best served.

    Been that way for some time. The technology narrows the field of view in most cases.

  9. A quite worthy choral piece. Not my cup of tea however,

  10. Replies
    1. The contributions FT made to this post are beyond comprehensive, Windbag. Your ideas on commercial influence on the culture and what makes a proper milieu in which to raise children and guide society are woefully ignorant and destructive.

      ... Claire de Lune Lipschitz


  11. I realize that you are coming at the subject from an arts viewpoint, and your points are well taken. As you know, in a market system people buy want they want, and the same thing is true for music. I see nothing wrong with this system, especially in the arts world. True, some stuff is horrible, and some will turn out to be great. It all has to have its beginning, somewhere.

    I shudder at some of the stuff I thought was great when I was a teenager, but lots of that music is robust, and the artistry good enough to last for generations. Music from Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, etc., have become classics in their own right.

    My sister was trained in classical piano, and I gained an appreciation of classical music. Now, my (classically trained) daughter is a music teacher at a public school, and her appreciation of music is reflected in what she teaches. She does expose kids to classical, rap, rock, jazz, etc. I don't think she was ever into metal and that stuff.

    Music is a thing of individual taste. Some of us have a more refined taste than others. Unfortunately, my knowledge and appreciation of music seems to lag the rest of the world, but I have sponsored a very good musician and teacher in the person of my daughter. I think I did my part right there.

  12. As sick as you both sound like you've been, I wasn't too surprised at the title of this piece you posted :-) Or maybe GO AWAY, DEATh is better!?
    I hope you're much better!!


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