|Comp.||Gaetano Maria Schiassi
|Title||Pastorale per il Santissimo Natale di nostro Sigr. Jesu|
|Performer||Hermann Diener und sein collegium musicum|
|Record no.||EH 1211|
|Matrix no.||2RA 3205 II square G 2 1|
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The Second Sunday in Advent is devoted to some lesser-known musical contributions. On December 2nd we presented the Pastoral Symphony (Pifa) from Messiah, and today we have a new pastoral lined up.
Pastoral music was widespread in Italian Christmas music around the 17th and 18th centuries. One of the most famous examples of this is Corelli's Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 6, Fatto per la Notte di Natale, which we had as the clip of the day on December 23rd in last year's Advent calendar.
Charles Cudworth writes about the Italian Christmas music tradition that " Corelli and his fellow-composers of such instrumental pastorals were not so much writing programme-music as putting to concert use the tunes they heard played on the pipes every Christmas".
He is referring to the pifferari, the itinerant musicians who performed music in front of the Madonna icons in the cities, and who inspired Handel when he called his Pastoral symphony Pifa. The Pifferari tradition lasted well into the 1800s, as the composer Hector Berlioz experienced when he visited Rome. He wrote in his memoirs:
"The only music that struck me in Rome is a form of popular instrumental music which I am rather inclined to think is a survival from antiquity – I mean the pifferari. Their appearance has a kind of wild mysticism which is full of originality. I have spent hours watching them in the streets of Rome, their heads slightly inclined over the shoulder, their eyes blazing with the most intense faith, their gaze fixed with pious love on the holy Madonna, almost as still as the image they are worshipping."
One of Handel's contemporaries who also was part of the Italian Pastoral tradition was Gaetano Maria Schiassi (1698-1754). Schiassi was educated at the prestigious Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna, where, among others, the young Mozart was later enrolled as a student.
Schiassi worked as a court musician and composer in residence for nobility before he moved to Lisbon in 1734. In Lisbon he was among the founders of the theater Academia da Trindade, where he had put on the city's first Italian opera.
Lisbon in the middle of the 18th century was a difficult place for a dedicated musician. After suffering a stroke in 1742, King John V devoted himself to religion. In an attempt to force the population to become more religious, he forbade all music performances without a religious affiliation. Schiassi described the cultural environment of Lisbon in great detail in his letters to the composer and musician Padre Martini in Bologna, and these letters are still preserved at the University Library in Bologna.
Today's musical treat would probably have fallen into the approved category with its Christian themes. Pastorale per il Santissimo Natale di Nostro Sigr. Jesu is also ofte just called Schiassi's Christmas Symphony, and has been recorded sporadically over the years. The original manuscript is currently held by the University Library of Uppsala in Sweden. The version recorded here is an arrangement published in Berlin in 1928 by Walter Upmeyer.
The performing orchestra, Hermann Diener’s Collegium musicum, are perhaps not very well known today, despite the fact that they were highly respected in the pre-war period in Europe.
Collegium Musicum was the designation of a type of music ensemble that was prevalent from the 1500s to the mid 1700's in Germany. The ensembles usually consisted of an assembly of students and amateur musicians who wanted to perform music together and to each other. Originally they didn’t necessarily play in front of an audience, but the tradition evolved over time to become the beginning of the professional concert culture in Germany.
Collegium musicum were widespread until the end of the 1700s when they became sparser. At the beginning of the 1900s, the German music teacher Hugo Riemann restarted the phenomenon with the founding of the first modern Collegium musicum as a student orchestra at the University of Leipzig. This started a new wave of Collegium musicum-orchestras, especially at German and American universities. These orchestras often specialize in early music, like baroque music, and often performs the music on original instruments or replicas.
Hermann Diener was the leader of a Collegium musicum who was internationally recognized in the pre-war period, with a reputation for having high academic integrity in their performances and recordings. The orchestra was especially noted for their performances of Handel and Bach, but in this case we shall hear them play Schiassi's Pastoral.
Sist oppdatert: 11.04.2011 12:28. Nettansvarlig
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