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Thursday, September 23, 2004
  Orfeo ed Euridice Act II, Scene 1, (excerpt)
Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 7 Tracks 17-21

It seems that I like the Beggar’s Opera less the more I do not listen to it. For me, it has come to represent that moment in the creative flow of music when our efforts turn away from a lyrical, growing complexity capable of engaging our full imagination. It is a spiteful neglect that indulges our hurtful appetites. Yet, somehow, we work through those celebrations of bad taste and find ourselves again preoccupied with a clarity of line and simplicity in construction that inevitably leads to increasingly complex events.

As they say, reform was in the air when the shrewd Mr. Gluck wrote his Orfeo. Gluck’s unification of the opera paved the way for Berlioz’s strange dream and the Wagnerian epic. The composer Gluck brings to my mind, however, is Edgar Varèse. If this excerpt is a fair example of his work, Gluck, like Varèse, was thinking in densities. As he might have admitted, Handel’s cook wrote better counterpoint. Gluck was interested in mass.

What I like about this return to the underworld are the repeats in the Presto at track 19. Even though Mr. Gluck took the dal segno away from singers, there remained a good use for repeats in the orchestral sections.
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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

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