Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Renaissance woman

I have been thinking about the music of Palestrina ever since Sunday, when I heard a live performance as an actual Tridentine Latin Mass. I have already gone on about it in the paper and on my Leonard Pennario Web log but I have to write about it just one more time. There is this video now which I just posted.

Darn, I am almost visible but not quite! When they are panning down the aisle at the end of the Mass, you will see this guy in a big red jacket. I am a few pews behind him. He blotted me out.

The Palestrina was the "Pope Marcellus Mass" which I find fascinating. The Kyrie sounds as if it rains down from above. It has these descending lines which make me think of rain and of what Shakespeare wrote about the quality of mercy is not strained, it falleth like a gentle rain from heaven. 

Palestrina's music has a quality which makes me see it, I mean visually. I picture the melody lines, like colored bands. They intertwine and come apart and sometimes they all come together in a blaze of light. He will play one line, one note, against the others and you can feel the contrast, feel the slight dissonance, and then you feel it when it is resolved. It is like a push-me, pull-you thing. It happens again and again.

Oh, my! Oh, my goodness! I just went looking for a recording on YouTube to show what I mean and what do you know, someone has put up a synthesized version of the Kyrie from the Pope Marcellus Mass that does just that, shows the melodies with colored lines. Apparently I am not the only one thinking this! It must be built into the music.

Visually the Mass was fascinating too.The video shows the torchbearers. They file out before the Consecration and then they stay in place around the altar. I read somewhere that torchbearers are kind of an honor guard.

My sister was rejoicing that you did not have to hold hands during the Our Father. I am thinking it is time for that fad to be scrapped, you know? Everyone is sick of it.

My two nieces who, I guess you would call them "tweens," all they know is Communion in the hand. There was some anxiety on the way up to the altar rail.

It is dramatic to go back to the Renaissance!

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