Friday, May 18, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #SovietaDay Week 3

For May 2018, some of us contributing to #ClassicsaDay decided to mark May Day. Reason enough to post works by Soviet composers. I decided to go a little farther with my #SovietaDay posts and concentrate on Soviet prize winners. 

Here are the posts I shared for week 3.

Gara Garayev (1918-1982) Leyli and Majnun, symphonic poem

Garayev was one of Azerbaijan's most prominent composers. He held several key music-related government positions, eventually becoming a member of the Supreme Soviet. His tone poem "Leyli and Majnun" was based on a 12th Century poem by Nizami Ganjavi. It won the Stalin Prize in 1948.

Fikret Amirov (1922-1984) Symphonic Mughams

Amirov was Azerbaijani and used its folk music extensively in his compositions. A mugham is one such tradition. It's an improvised piece based on a highly codified collection of melodies, motifs, and modes. Amirov's symphonic version of this form won the Stalin Prize in 1949.

Reinhold Glière 1875-1956): String Quartet No. 4

Glières was a prominent composer both before and after the Revolution. He avoided politics and survived both the 1936 and 1948 ideological purges that ensnared many other composers. His fourth string quartet won the Stalin Prize in 1948. He was 73 at the time and considered something of a national treasure.

Otar Taktakishvili (1924-1989) Symphony No. 1 in A minor "Youth Symphony"

The Georgian-born Taktakishvili studied with Shostakovich, and they became life-long friends. Taktakishvili composed the Anthem for the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. His catalog includes operas and film scores, as well as concert works. His first symphony won the Stalin Prize in 1949.

Dmitri Kabalevsky (1900-1987): String Quartet No. 2

In the West, Kabelevsky's a one-hit wonder (Comedian's Galop), In the USSR, he was a major figure. He helped establish the Union of Soviet Composers and was at the forefront of children's music education. He wrote over 100 works, including four symphonies, and seven concertos. The second of his two string quartets won the Stalin Prize in 1946.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 088 - Vise

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

088. Vise

This was a fairly easy build -- even if it wasn't quite possible as depicted. The illustrator drew the dowels at the length they needed to be to look good. But those lengths aren't available in the set.

There are only two lengths available -- long and short. The short dowel securing the baseplate is too tall to sit flush with the surface of the plate. Only a long dowel can hold the handle assembly, though it's a little too long.

Still, the end result is close enough to the illustration. I'm satisfied with the results.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott: A Mighty Fine Collection

This is a great collection for anyone interested in the music of the early Protestant church. Ein Fiest Burg spans about 120 years, from the first hymns by Luther through settings by Heinrich Schutz. The release includes sacred music by Michael Praetorius, Samuel Scheidt, Hermann Schein, Melchior Frank, and others.

The first disc arranges selections according to the liturgical calendar. Many of the tunes may sound familiar -- such as Praetorius' setting of "Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen." Some of these tunes have found their ways into various mainstream Protestant hymnals, and some were incorporated into cantatas (including some by Bach).

The second disc is of special interest. It includes the Deutsches Passion by Joachim von Burck, the first such in the German language. The language for the Deutsches Requiem was set by Thomas Selle, Andreas Hammerschmidt and Heinrich Schutz, all represented here. It was the same text Brahms would later use for his Deutsches Requiem.

The keyword for Luther was simplicity. He wanted music that could be sung by the congregation. It could have been a recipe for blandness. Instead, composers throughout the first century of the Protestant Reformation found new and inventive ways to write.

The program is also thoughtfully organized. Vox Luminis performs some selections a capella, and some with organist Bart Jacobs. Jacobs performs several solo works. Two different organs are used, providing even more sound variety.

As always, the ensemble sings with a seamless blend. Their clear, transparent sound adds to the beauty -- and the spirituality -- of the music. This is one of the best (and best-sounding) collections of early Protestant music I've heard to date.

Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott: Luther and the Music of the Reformation
Vox Luminis; Lionel Meunier; Bart Jacobs
Ricercar RIC 378
2 CD Set