Sacred Music from Notre Dame Cathedral, Tonus Peregrinus

A few weeks ago I posted tracks from this album as part of the ChoralMarch blog series. It is hard to believe the cover of this album – with Notre Dame’s magnificent Rose Window – marks something lost forever.


In Memoriam Mark Hollis: On April 5th, here is Talk Talk with April 5th

One of the first, if not the first, albums I bought independently with my own hard-saved chore money was the Talk Talk compilation Natural History. It turned out this was a record company issue without the consent or approval of the band; nevertheless I was hooked by the musical journey from the fairly standard synth pop of “Today” and “Talk Talk” to the booming, lush pop epics of It’s My Life and Life’s What You Make It and beyond to the later works, which went beyond categories.

The Colour of Spring is very much a bridge album between early and mature Talk Talk. It holds up very well, without being much dated (the exception being the last track, “Time It’s Time”, rather overblown, overlong and overproduced)

One can see how the record company would have hoped to create a monster hit machine, although I suspect Hollis’ voice was not quite the thing. Songs like Life’s What You Want It and Living in Another World have a confident, swaggering stomp. The instrumentation and aspects of the arrangements link them with later, spare Talk Talk, but they are rather different beasts.

The video for It’s My Life, with its interspersion of nature documentary clips with shots of Hollis walking round a zoo, caught my imagination. Perhaps it was a bridge moment between the nature-focused interests of my childhood and the world of adolescence, when music and literature began to dominate.

With the recent death of Scott Walker, 2019 is becoming the year my quirkier musical heroes of the 1990s go to their eternal reward. Hollis left the music industry behind; it seems from his obituaries that this was not so much becoming a “recluse” as choosing an ordinary, family-focused life over the treadmill of touring and recording. In our age of narcissism this alone is a radical choice.

“O Believe , My Heart, O Believe!” – #ChoralMarch concludes March 31st with finale of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”

It’s the end of my #ChoralMarch project. Thank you to those who commented kindly and Liked etc. I would like to go out on a high note, with the choral finale of Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 2, Resurrection. Feeling a little impure about excerpting a piece, except YouTube handily does it for me, with no less than Leonard Bernstein giving it his usual loads on the podium:

Here is a slightly more modest setting. Well, not really. The Morristown Presbyterian Church looks pretty imposing. Appropriately this recording is from Easter Sunday. And I like this shift from the concert hall to the place of worship:

Here’s a link to a Haitnik-conducted performance on Spotify:

Here is the German text:

lt solo:
O glaube, mein Herz, o glaube:
Es geht dir nichts verloren!
Dein ist, ja dein, was du gesehnt,
Dein, was du geliebt, was du gestritten!

Sopran solo:
O glaube: Du wardst nicht umsonst geboren!
Hast nicht umsonst gelebt, gelitten!

Chor und Alt:
Was entstanden ist, das muß vergehen!
Was vergangen, auferstehen!
Hör auf zu beben!
Bereite dich zu leben!

Sopran und Alt solo:
O Schmerz! Du Alldurchdringer!
Dir bin ich entrungen.
O Tod! Du Allbezwinger!
Nun bist du bezwungen!
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen,
In heißem Liebesstreben
Werd ich entschweben
Zum Licht, zu dem kein Aug’ gedrungen!

Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen,
Werd ich entschweben!
Sterben werd’ ich, um zu leben!
Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n wirst du,
Mein Herz, in einem Nu!
Was du geschlagen,
Zu Gott wird es dich tragen!

And a handy English translation:

Oh believe, my heart, believe:
Nothing will get lost!
What you have longed for is yours!
Yours, what you have loved, what you have strived for!

Soprano solo:
Oh believe: you were not born in vain!
You have not lived, suffered to no avail!

Chorus and alto:
What has come into being must go!
What is gone must rise again!
Stop quaking!
Be willing to live!

Soprano and alto solo:
Oh pain! You all-penetrating power!
I am wrested from you!
Oh death! You all-conquering power!
You are vanquished at last!
With wings that I have gained
in a fervent striving for love
I shall rise to a light
which no eye has ever seen!

With wings that I have gained
I shall rise!
I shall die to live!
Arise, yes, you shall rise again,
my heart, in no time!
What you have beaten
to God it will bear you!


Flannery and Dante – a poem by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

At The Other Journal I come across this poem “riffing on Flannery O’Connor’s fandom for Dante” as the site itself puts it:

Flannery and Dante

For my money Dante is about as great as you can get.
—Flannery O’Connor, Letter to Elizabeth Hester, November 10, 1955

Tell me, poet, pilgrim, friend
how you managed to make a world.
Your lines a sturdy scaffold we climb
to heaven, gawking at the sinners we find
along your highway out of hell. You own
a genius for evil, as well as good,
but it’s the former that haunts me, a man
who eats his child a thing I could
not forget if I tried, and I don’t.
It’s part of me now, like last night’s corn-
bread I ate for supper. Deep under the skin
you and I are kin,
conjuring words, eager to atone
for the pity of being blood and bone.

#ChoralMarch March 29th, “Sanctus” from “Missa Luba” – Les Troubadours Du Roi Baudoin

Like many I suspect, I was first exposed to this piece by its use in the film If…  I saw this in the Irish Film Centre (which is how I will always think of the Irish Film  Institute) not necessarily expecting much … being a little resistant to the “cult film” in general and to the self-consciously rebellious in particular. If… was a revelation however, a far more subtle and powerful counter-cultural work than most 1960s products.

While many roughly contemporary films were using psychedelic or avant garde music, If… deployed this children’s choir from Congo to stunning effect:



Here is a montage of If.. clips set to the piece: