Because I Am Just Trying to Make Amends...
In order to raise the tone of the musical discourse of the past couple of days, I will begin to post on some recordings of edifying music that I find to be mandatory listening. But first, some clarifications and confessions.
1. I don't always listen to edifying music, as my recent comments will testify. I also like musical junk-food, and most people will know my preferences in this regard. My love for classical music and other more sublime musical forms has been cultivated rather inconsistently but passionately since my youth. What I was raised on in the barrio was anything by sublime and edifying. (Unless you find Eazy-E edifying...)
I am not proud of these things, just as I am not proud of eating that extra Twinkie (just kidding, I don't like Twinkies). That's just what feels like home to me. Hey, I'm not perfect, and I try to keep it down to a minimum. (It's not like I get up everyday and start bumping 50 Cent into my ears right away.)
Some of it, in my opinion, can either be quite clever (like this
), or quite poetic (like this
). There has to be a redeeming quality in everything, right?
2. Otherwise, I like music that most would consider very highbrow. In fact, I just took my significant other on a date where we saw Johannes Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem. (Gosh, I am SO lucky to have found a girl who I can take to see a Requiem on a date.) I think that the lack of good music in this society is perhaps its greatest cultural crisis.
It's not that we have to give up all "junk music". It's just that we have to also have a good diet of soul-building music. And just as I think that people who hate all sugar and salty treats are crazy health-nuts who will probably be hit by a bus at the age of 55, so I think that people who hate all popular music are supremely ignorant about the nature of music. It is just a matter of moderation, as in all things. In medio stat virtus...
3. So in that spirit, I now present you with my all-time favorite musical recording: Handel's Carmelite Vespers of 1707
. I first listened to this recording as a teenager, and from the first bars of his setting of the 109th Psalm ("Dixit Dominus Domino meo"), I am captivated by the musical drama, the devotion, and the splendid use of counterpoint.
It is surprising to me that one of the most profound works of Marian devotion in music was written as a mercenary work by a young Lutheran composer. But the texts are always treated with triumph and tenderness. And since I really don't like listening to liturgical music in recordings (which I always consider something akin to constructing a high altar in a Burger King), the operatic style of much of the work makes it a truly enjoyable piece of music with lots of vocal pyrotechnics and show-stoppers.
Bottom line: I love the Virgin. I love the Baroque. I love Handel. Listen to this recording. Resistance is futile.