What I Like About...
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
  Alleluia Pascha nostrum
13th century
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 1 Tracks 32-41

Contrary to intuition, there are many good pieces of music like this one that could be described as having been written by committee. This becomes possible when all the contributing composers are strongly present in the same tradition and focused on the same symbol. Mary is the symbol these composers were looking toward. All of their passions, even the most secular, were expressed in terms of her. Music written by committee without a unifying issue is not very effective.

This piece is a seminal step in our survey. One of the reasons for this is that it is a complex work in several contrasting sections. As odd as this may sound, I am beginning to suspect that a piece of music, regardless of historical context or place, can be no more than five minutes long without losing narrative (less is even better). In order to achieve substantially longer pieces a composer must reach that goal through smaller episodes that bring the listener from one narrative stop to another. Although the istampita we heard on track 25 achieved a good length with contrasting sections, this work rises above that instrumental romp in its range of expression and development. As it works out, the last section of this piece recorded here is a three-part motet. This is the first time, on this CD, that we have heard three lines controlled so clearly. And we have arrived here with the logical yet impassioned steps of the preceding excerpts.

What I like about this piece is the line. Harmony is more than the combination of pitches. As we can hear in this piece harmony develops as musical lines are combined. 

<< Home
In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

Read Also...
Music Reference Links
Links to Composers and Collaborations
Miscellaneous Links
What I Said About...