Thursday, January 23, 2014

Here's the program and translations for The Rosary Sonatas – The Glorious Mysteries, Fr. Madden Auditorium, Carr Hall, St. Michael’s College, Oct. 11, 2013: Lecture 7:30PM, Concert 8PM, featuring Christopher Verrette, violin with Hallie Fishel, soprano, Patricia Ahern 2nd violin, Philip Fournier, organ, John Edwards, theorbo and Rev. Lisa Wang giving the pre-concert chat.

The Annunciation Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704)
Ave maris stella Alessandro Grandi (c.1580-1630)

The Visitation Biber
Ut queant laxis Maurizio Cazzati (c1620-77) 

The Nativity Biber
Canzonetta Spirituale sopra alla nanna Tarquinio Merula (1595-1665)

The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple Biber
Nunc Dimittis Giovanni Rigatti (c1613-48)

The 12-year old Jesus in the Temple Biber
Amo Christum Grandi

Ave maris stella
The violins stand for the odd verses.
(Hail, star of the sea,
Nurturing Mother of God,
And ever Virgin
Happy gate of Heaven.)

Receiving that ‘Ave’
From the mouth of Gabriel,
Establish us in peace,
Transforming the name of ‘Eva’.

(Loosen the chains of the guilty,
Send forth light to the blind,
Our evil do thou dispel,
Entreat for us all good things.)

Show thyself to be a Mother:
Through thee may he receive prayer
Who, being born for us,
Undertook to be thine own.

(O unique Virgin,
Meek above all others,
Make us, set free from our sins,
Meek and chaste.)

Bestow a pure life,
Prepare a safe way:
That seeing Jesus,
We may ever rejoice.

(Praise be to God the Father,
To the Most High Christ be glory,
To the Holy Spirit
Be honour, to the Three equally.)
(Text – Hymn for Marian Feasts)
Ut queant laxis 
The violins stand for the even verses.
So that your servants may, with loosened cords,
resound the wonders of your deeds,
cleanse the guilt from our stained lips, O Saint John.

(An angel came from the heavens
to announce to your father the greatness of your birth,
your name, and the unfolding of your life.)
He (Zecharias) doubted these divine promises
and was promptly deprived of the use of speech;
but at your birth the voice he had lost was restored.
(While still recumbent in the womb,
you sensed the King’s presence in the wedding chamber;
thus your parents received the revelation of this mystery.)
Glory be to the Father and to the begotten Son;
and equal glory to the Spirit,
ever one God, unto the ages of ages. Amen.
(Text, Hymn for the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist)

Canzonetta Spirituale sopra alla nanna
The time is now come to sleep,
Sleep, sleep my son and do not cry,
For the time will yet come
When you will have to cry.
So my dear, so my heart
Go to sleep.
Shut those divine eyes
As other children do,
For soon a thick veil
Will deprive the sky of light.
Go to sleep,
Or take this milk
From my unsullied breasts,
For a cruel minister
Prepares for you vinegar and gall.
So my dear, so my heart
Go to sleep.
My love, let this soft breast
Be a soft bed for you
Before, on the cross
In a loud voice, you give your soul to your father.
So my dear, so my heart
Go to sleep.
Stretch out, then those sweet little limbs.
So sweet and so tender,
For later irons and chains
Will inflict cruel pains on them.
So my dear, so my heart
Go to sleep.
Those hands and those feet
Which you now look on with pleasure and joy,
Alas, in what a way will sharp nails
pass through them.
That gracious face,
Today redder than a rose,
Will be fouled with spit and blows
In torment and pain.
O what pain, only hope of my heart,
Will be caused by sharp thorns,
Which will wound your head and hair.
Ah, in this divine breast,
my love sweet and tender,
An ungodly and treacherous lance
Will inflict a mortal wound.
Sleep then my son,
Sleep you who is also my redeemer.
Because with happy faces
We shall see each other in Paradise.
Now that my life is sleeping,
He who is all the joy of my heart,
Let each, through pure zeal, be silent.
And I, during this time, what will I do?
I will contemplate my dear,
And I will stay with my head bowed
While my child sleeps.
(Text – Free)

Nunc Dimittis
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. 
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, 
World without end. Amen
(Text – Song of Simeon, Luke 20:29-32 and Canticle at Compline)

Amo Christum
I love Christ, who renews my youth,
who with His blood adorns my cheeks. 
When I love Him, I am pure;
when I touch Him I am free from sin;
when I receive Him I am still a virgin.

I love Christ, who encircles my neck
with precious stone, who satisfies my soul with honey. 
When I love Him...

I love Christ, who overthrows
those who resist Him,
who frees me from the clutch of want. 
When I love Him...
I am pure, free from sin and a virgin.
(Text – St. Ambrose, Life of St. Agnes)

Program Notes – Christopher Verrette

The first five mysteries of the Rosary are known as the ‘Joyous’ ones, yet Heinrich Biber’s insightful settings look deep into them in a way that can seem at times surprisingly dark, anticipating the Sorrowful Mysteries to come. The Annunciation Sonata, in fact, encapsulates the whole story of Jesus' birth, death and resurrection.

The opening prelude comprises exactly 496 notes; this "perfect" number personifies Mary, the central figure of the Rosary, as one born without flaw, using figurations that Biber previously used to accompany the text "Children are an heritage of the Lord". Here they are amplified to express God's ultimate gift of a single child. The somewhat martial theme of the Aria with variations introduces the angel Gabriel, who is not only God's messenger, but His soldier as well. The Finale is entirely based on a g minor pedal, the key of the Crucifixion Sonata, which ultimately resolves into a chord that refers to the Resurrection through its notation: a ‘double breve’. Such antiquated notation is otherwise reserved for the Surrexit Christus hodie of Sonata XI in this work.

The second sonata, on the other hand, is genuinely joyous in its affect and sonority, using a tuning that shines in the key of A Major. While the use of a dance form, an Allemande, emphasizes the routine social aspect of The Visitation, large intervallic jumps are used to suggest the leaping of the child in Elizabeth’s womb that transformed it to the miraculous.

The Nativity sonata is central to the Joyous mysteries, and uses a harsh tuning of the violin to focus our attention on the strangeness of Jesus’ birth, the hardships Mary endures and the desolation of the stable. Yet the Corrente, a courtly French dance, reminds us that it is in fact a king being born in this humble place. Biber's storytelling is at its most acute in the final Adagio: the braying of the ass is distinctly heard-the only animal pictured in the accompanying engraving and the very beast that will carry Jesus into Jerusalem toward His Passion-and is swiftly followed by a premonition of the Crucifixion sonata. This is the musical embodiment of a practice found in the visual arts of including emblems of the Crucifixion in nativity scenes. The disturbing lullaby by Merula that follows is its natural companion.

The phrase that opens and closes Sonata IV captures perfectly the character of Simeon as a world-weary man with his gaze fixed on heaven. The variations express his age, patience and faith, as well as his ability to not only recognize the Messiah, but to foresee His future torments.

Sonata V returns to A Major to celebrate the Finding in the Temple. Biber does not dwell on the anxieties of Jesus being missing. The opening section features fanfare figures and the powerful interval of the unison. What follows is essentially a dance suite; public music to announce Jesus’ ‘debut’ as a teacher.