Monday, 17 September 2012

Nelson Mass by Haydn

It has been a very wet weekend here in Paradise and I have been soaked more than a couple of times !

Sunday is my day for visiting and taking out my father who is in a wonderfully caring nursing home in the capital of Paradise. It takes me around 35 minutes to get there and I generally hook up my smartphone to the car radio with the aid of a clever little cable which magically transforms the car into a piece of technology which plays my own music. The wonders of science and Apple !

In the time it takes me to drive to the home I can play almost exactly half of the Haydn Nelson Mass, and then finish it on my drive home. I absolutely love with a passion this short oratorio. I sang both the alto solo part then the soprano solo at different times in my career, as my voice changed, and never loved my career choice more than on those occasions when I was privileged to perform this work. For sheer unadulterated joy it would be difficult to find a better piece. From the first thunderous chord combined with the triumphant fanfare from the trumpets it still sweeps me along with it's majesty and sense of thrilling breadth.

The soprano has tremendous solo sections especially in the sweeping opening Kyrie. When one sings it, the physicality of the vocal line is akin to being musically airlifted to some higher stratosphere. It always made me want to sing it with the broadest of smiles, whilst at the same time bring a sense of gravitas.

I don't think I ever managed 'gravitas', but I hope the many and varied audiences felt the joyful lift which invariably overtook me.

My daughter had this dramatic and powerful music as she walked down the aisle at her wedding! Not the usual choice of piece, and the unsuspecting congregation were blown away - Quite literally I fear. When the young trumpeter let go with his opening note one felt each wedding guest flatten into the back of the pew, and then as the singers sang a fff 'Kyrie', I imagine to a man, they gave up the ghost and surrendered to the tsunami waves of music washing over them.

It was a distinctive and unique sort of a service !

Go to this YouTube link and hear that first chorus at it's finest. St Paul's Cathedral, Barbara Bonney, Annie Howells and other great and good soloists. It may be of interest to some of my students that I sang a number of times with both Anthony Rolfe Johnson, the tenor and Stephen Roberts the bass in this recording.

You will understand why I cannot avoid driving at a rate of knots when this is blaring out of my speakers!

(Copy and paste the link to hear it, my iPad does not seem to be able to put up a direct link? If anyone knows how to do this PLEASE comment! )

Haydn and friends looking very jolly at the Palace Esterhazy in Eisenstadt, Austria, and the magnificent Haydn Hall in said palace. Hope some of you remember.......

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