Music Note for this Sunday
Louis Marchand, a child prodigy with a violent temperament, became, without competition and by merit of his impeccable reputation alone as virtuoso, one of the four Organistes du roy (Organists to the King) of the Royal Chapel of Versailles. The organ selections heard as the Prelude and Postlude today feature a sensational use of dissonance and resolution, a charming asymmetry, and an overall freshness that, together, showcases the French classical style at its best. The concert master to King Augustus of Saxony invited Marchand and Johann Sebastian Bach to a competition in Dresden, an invitation to which both eagerly accepted. One can speculate that Marchand was perhaps overwhelmed with intimidation at the last moment, and it was thus that he did not show. Bach was awarded the prize of 500 talers. We hear a movement from Bach’s large-scale Magnificat, also known as the “Song of Mary” (Luke 1:46-55: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior…”). The movement heard today “Quia respexit,” (‘For he has looked with favor upon his lowly servant’), for soprano I and obbligato oboe, paints, through musical language, a perfect picture of purity, simplicity, and humble happiness. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was court organist in Salzburg at a time when music was shifting, stylistically, due to a cultural increase in individualism. Though Mozart was perhaps most attracted to opera, several of his sacred works exist and are performed today, of which include an interesting blend of the secular and the sacred, employing stile antico (‘old church style’) used throughout the music of Bach. In the Laudate Dominum, a soft rising-and-falling pattern grounds the ethereal, fluid melody before melting into the soprano solo.