Music Notes for this Sunday - 7/25
During the 1730s the overall popularity of opera was declining in London, and, anyway, opera was normally banned by the church during the penitential season of Lent. It was thus that the oratorio was formed, Israel in Egypt, by George Frideric Handel, being one significant example. These oratorios could be produced at less expense (no set or costumes required), they were more approachable to those less familiar with the aristocratic entertainment of Italian opera, and they were permitted to be performed during the Lenten season as the text is lifted entirely from the Bible. “Thou Shalt Bring Them In” comes from the oratorio's final part, Part III, and is Moses’ song of God leading the Israelites into the Promised Land where all is made perfect and complete.
The life of Jehan Alain was cut short by a tragic accident in the Battle of Saumur in which he served at the outbreak of WWII. The “Fantasmagorie” is in contrast to the “Choral Dorien,” both heard as the Prelude today, and together they hearken back to Medieval Chant and dance through a gesture, by the composer, that is clever and not without charm. The composer says of his Litanies: “You must create an impression of passionate incantation…prayer is not a lament but a devastating tornado, flattening everything in its way. It is also an obsession. You must fill people’s ears with it, and God’s ears too! If you get to the end without feeling exhausted you have neither understood it nor played it as I would want it.”