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Thread: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

    "A F# G# E G C# C "

    OK, let me bite I believe that last 'C' is a mark of a daring composer of the late Baroque period. Let me attempt an amateur harmonic analysis

    So, for starters, we are, of course, in the sombre Zelenkian mood, so after hearing 'A F# G# E' the simplest thing we can expect is to return to A Minor. What does the next 'G' say? It says 'nope guys, we're actually in A Major 7th, leading straight to D, most probably D Minor'. So far this is a pretty standard trick used by many: using the 7th step of a minor key frequently suggests the chord is actually the tonic major and we're going a fourth up. This hypothesis is partially confirmed by the 'C#', both G and C# belong to the A Major 7th chord, so we seem to be on firm ground, going into D (probably Minor). But then the 'C' appears. Of course, it can be interpreted as 'you thought I wouldn't repeat that trick? Let's go TWO fourths up!', that is, as the 7th step of D Major, going towards G. But in the course of the fugue Zelenka does many things with it

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

    I have a theory:

    In Medieval & Renaissance/Early Baroque times, the setting was associated with the tonus peregrinus Gregorian psalm-tone. It's discussed in depth by Dr Mattias Lundberg, especially in relation to 16thC polyphony (see google-books preview). The Harvard History of Music describes it as a "wandering or foreign tone" (p. 690, also in google-books). It's wandering, because the reciting note (the long pitch that usually gets repeated through chant) is not the same in the second half as it is in the first. Also, it usually ends on a note which is a perfect 5th below the first reciting tone. The snake-like melody, which gradually goes downwards, maybe reflects the psalm text: the mercy of God in the migration of the Hebrews out of Egypt.

    So maybe we have a basis for the unusual nature of Zelenka's Amen fugue? Could there be a closer, notational/compositional resemblance? I haven't had the chance to compare the fugue with the chant-notes used as examples by Lundberg (we also don't have the digitised manuscript yet) - but I think it's probably unlikely.

    However, I've had a brief look at ZWV 84 In Exitu Israel on IMSLP, from Zelenka's 3rd psalm cycle, 1728. Here, there is a clear cantus firmus Gregorian chant in the soprano, and it resembles the tonus peregrinus!

    A sketch of my reasoning:

    ZWV 84 (C-minor) Soprano, first and last movement
    D Eb D[reciting note] C[short], Eb D C Bb, D C[recit.], G Bb A G[extended]

    Example 2.7 from Lundberg, pp11-12*

    A Bb A[recit.], Bb A G F, G A G[recit.], D F E D[end note]

    Possible changes by Zelenka:
    D - half the length that Example 2.7 implies it should be
    C - on '-ra' (Israel) a crotchet length (quarter-note) C
    G - omitted; there should be another C before the D note

    *A 'Roman dialect' variant, tenor part. Noted as "...conventional in polyphonic settings, possibly on account of its greater modal separation of the semi-verses - something that seemed to be appealing to sixteenth-century composers"

    So, I suggest he was fully aware of this old (if not, ancient) tradition linked with the psalm. It was also linked to the German magnificat, which JS Bach referred to and used.

    I also want to share another idea I had: In this first psalm cycle, Zelenka seems to devote a lot of attention to the 'Amen' fugues. I think they might refer to each other to an extent. The famous jubilant, uplifting ZWV108 Amen fugue takes on another, deeper meaning when compared side-by-side with the dark contortionist Amen fugues of ZWV 75 and 83 (any others?). I like to think of it in the similar way to how some Lutheran composers (ie. JS Bach, Graupner) did Cantata-Chorale movements. They are composed in much the same format, but they vary according to the text (for Zelenka, the psalm text).

    Seb
    Last edited by Xanaseb; 06-11-2015 at 02:29 PM. Reason: more musical stuff...

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

    Two very nice analyses Elwro and Sebastian! Both of these quite possibly touch on aspects of Zelenka's motivation for penning this remarkable amen setting. The implied harmonic progression described by Elwro is now clear to me. Indeed, towards the end of the fugue Zelenka actually takes the harmonic progression one step further during a setting of the subject answer in the basses. It is a neat trick but still I wonder why Zelenka did it - it's a serious work for the royal chapel and not some kind of private experimental exercise (like Bach's WTC, for instance). It is fiendishly hard to sing and not especially easy on the ears (though the keyboard version I am currently cooking up sounds other-worldly good on the piano - like a 49th fugue from the WTC, but much much weirder). As Sebastian pointed out, the amens of the 1st vesper cycle are quite striking, but might Zelenka have not gone a bit too far with the ZWV 83 one? Perhaps the lack of anything similar in his subsequent output (even in the late works supposedly written for himself) probably sums up the reaction he got. I mean, imagine if Zelenka's colleagues and superiors had enjoyed this amen so much that they demanded more music like that. We might have got a 12-tone mass setting from him!! I digress...

    It is also interesting that Zelenka has apparently tried to hide the implied tonality further with his strange jumps in the subject. Perhaps here, his motivation is related to what Sebastian wrote. The fugue subject is perhaps a bit too angular (more like bounding from rock-to-rock than wandering aimlessly in the desert!) to be imitative of the tonus peregrinus. However, considering the subject matter of the Psalm perhaps Zelenka really meant to create something oriental-sounding? There was growing interest in oriental music at the time in Europe (think Rameau and co.). In a cosmopolitan place like Dresden, Zelenka may have heard first hand about music-making in the middle east and north Africa and found a neat way (the implied harmonic progression plus angular subject) to imitate it. If I was one of his singers, I would probably have accepted this explanation and got on with the hard work. Still, a penny for their thoughts (and those of Josepha) on this work....

    I really look forward to hearing Inegal's reading of this and I hope the whole work (including the stridently brilliant 1st movement) finally gets the recognition it deserves.

    rnkt
    Last edited by rnkt; 08-11-2015 at 10:29 PM. Reason: correcting sloppy terminology!

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

    That post made me chuckle XD...
    I can also imagine him first having the idea form in his head like a eureka moment, and then scribbling it down whilst sniggering to himself: "now this will give them something to think about!"

    ..and us too, nigh three centuries later

    Seb
    Last edited by Xanaseb; 09-11-2015 at 06:58 PM.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

    It should have been done by Bach 290 years ago, but now I have done the necessary with the "nearly atonal" Amen fugue from ZWV 83: The keyboard transcription can be found at IMSLP here. It lies nicely under the fingers (at least compared to other Zelenka fugues I am trying to transcribe) and seems to work equally well on piano, organ and harpischord.

    So, enjoy and don't break it :-)

    RNKT
    Last edited by rnkt; 14-11-2015 at 01:01 AM.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

    Very nicely arranged! Thanks. Gave it a whirl on the piano, which will take some practice to play well (I'm not an amazing pianist). It does sound well and lie (surprisingly) well on the keyboard indeed.

    Funnily enough, this was just uploaded onto YouTube - an ooold style early recording of this fugue : https://youtu.be/y88CbEtbQA0

  7. #17

    Default Re: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

    Please reupload video (https://youtu.be/y88CbEtbQA0) because i get :"This video is not available. "
    Thank you.
    Last edited by kaufen; 25-05-2016 at 06:57 PM.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

    Quote Originally Posted by kaufen View Post
    Please reupload video (https://youtu.be/y88CbEtbQA0) because i get :"This video is not available. "
    Thank you.
    That video was made available by Supraphon but is apparently unavailable in some countries due to rights issues (I am in Germany and I also get that error message). However, those (and other) great old vinyl recordings can be purchased as mp3 for not very much on the Supraphon website here: http://www.supraphonline.cz/umelec/1...zelenka?page=1 Another highlight there is the 1944 recording of Hipocondrie by the Czech Philharmonic under Rafael Kubelik. Don't be put off by the opening section which is very strangely played - the central fugal section is excellent.

  9. #19
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    Default Re: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

    @Kaufen: Since your posting and correspondence with rnkt, Supraphon tracks (and many other '#' tracks that seem to have been uploaded systematically over the past year on to youtube) have been blocked here in my country (UK) too!

    I did however manage to download the ZWV 83 before the videos were blocked, if you would like them I can PM you

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Psalm 113 - In exitu Israel, ZWV 83

    I've been reading more into the 'Tonus Peregrinus' book by Lundberg (which turns out to be a brilliant read), and lo and behold, he actually *has* looked into ZWV 84 as an example of Late Baroque usage of the psalm-tone in 'In Exitu' settings.

    He also studies JC Fischer's setting of 'In Exitu', which Zelenka lists in his Inventarium under "Psalmi Variorum Authorum". Possibly one of the inspirations for Zelenka's own usage of the tonus peregrinus.

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