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CLASSICAL  August 2000

CLASSICAL August 2000

Subject:

Re: Greatest Choral Composer

From:

Kevin Sutton <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 24 Aug 2000 02:49:18 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (75 lines)

"D. Stephen Heersink" wrote:

>The irony, of course, is that all Bach's choral music is religious,
>except for a few secular cantatas, and because he was a Lutheran rather
>than a Catholic, he never composed a Mass that was functional (the B-minor
>is nearly three hours long) nor a Requiem (Lutherans again didn't use them
>at funerals).

Stephen is being hyperbolic (again). The b minor mass comes in at just
under two hours. You would have to go a half time to stretch it to three.
As to the functionality of the mass, the b minor was never intended to be
used in a religious service, however there are a number of Lutheran masses
by Bach, in latin, that were most certainly used in services. The service
masses are truncated, of course, as was the practice in Lutheran liturgy.

>Yet, save the B-minor Mass and Saint Matthew Passion, I'd rather listen
>to any of these other composers for hours on end than listen to Bach.
>While his compositional skills are unparalleled, they tire easily

Then you have obviously never read the texts and studied the way Bach set
them. The cantatas are full of the most profound and creative symbolism of
any music ever composed.

>Handel, on the other hand never wrote a composition for a major choral
>work of Mass or Requiem, but wrote numerous anthems and six or seven
>Oratorios and about an equal number of Operettas.

He wrote over 30 oratorios, a passion setting and a number of cantatas and
anthems. He did not write a single operetta, as the form had yet to be
invented.

>With the exception of the Messiah, and the anthem "I know my Redeemer
>liveth," there's not much memorable as a whole.

"I know that my redeemer liveth" is an aria, not an anthem. How can his
works be memorable to you when it is very obvious that you don't know them
at all?

>More recently. Elgar has composed some excellent choral pieces of
>Substantial merit: The Dream of Gerontius, The Apostles, The Kingdom,
>and dozens of other Oratorios and similar works.

Stephen, please don't exaggerate. Gerontius, The Apostles and The Kingdom
and The Light of Life are the sum total of his Oratorios. That's four,
not dozens. There are half dozen or so cantatas, a couple of works with
orchestra and choir and a notebook full of part songs and cathedral
anthems. Your case is substantially weakend by your habit of throwing out
statements which you have failed to properly research.

>Britten composed a great number of religious and secular choral works,
>including an opera and operetta,

an opera....he wrote ten full scale operas and three church parables and an
opera for children.(The Little Sweep, or let's make an opera). Once again
you are speaking before you have done your homework.

>but his works don't have that particular umph that Vaughn Williams, Elgar,
>Parry, Holst, and Stanford have.

Ummm, ever heard the Spring Symphony, the War Requiem, Rejoice in the Lamb?
More than sufficient in umph factor I should think.

>Parry's "Jerusalem" stands out singularly as the perfect tune, and his
>orchestration of it, when done properly, brings tears to the eyes.

Jerusalem is a hymn, not a choral work. Choral settings of this piece are
arrangements, not authentic Parry.

Whereas differing opinions on the merit of works by different composers is
enlightening, it is not helpful to spew out mis-information. I don't mean
to be a snob, but you can't make a case for or against a composer's work if
you don't know the music.

Kevin Sutton

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