I've been a choir singer for about seven years and we even went to South Korea two years ago to join Busan International Choral Festival. Choral music exposed me to a different world called “Classical Music”. I can even say that I like classical music more than rock music. There are even times when the Philippine Madrigal Singers organized several local choirs (including us) and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra to perform some Symphonic Pieces such as Bruckner’s “Te Deum” and some works of our national artist, Lucio San Pedro. I really enjoyed it. Classical genre gave me a deeper understanding to what music really is. I never imagined that a rocker like me can love classical music that much! A few days ago I listened to Frederik Magle’s “Cantabile: Cortege & Danse Macabre and Carillon” and decided to give a little comment about it in this post.
Hearing the first few notes gave me a feeling that I was in the desserts of Arabia. It introduces a theme by a flute: its variation can be heard throughout the piece. But first impressions are not always correct. The whole piece is far from “Arabic music”. This is a very dynamic piece and in some parts, the emotions are changing. I personally like the eery contemporary dissonant harmony at 1:45. I have a very good appreciation with this style of harmony since we’ve performed several choral pieces by Eric Whitacre. The choir has a very mature sound! That’s a two thumbs up for me especially the altos at 2:20. In the website by “Frederik Magle”, it says there that the first movement depicts a procession of the dead – dancing. I can clearly see this with the introduction of the marimba at 4:57; the marching sound of the snare drum in some parts; and the waltz feel of the whole orchestra at 5:55. I don’t know but the marimba is giving me an impression that the Mario Brothers are running around. Hahaha! The whispering vocal ornaments of the female voices at 8:12 added a twist to this musical piece. The first movement ended with a major sixth harmonic interval by two flutes.
The second movement started with a very sad feeling. It’s like going to a funeral with some church bells ringing. The emotion in this movement changes many times. This is accomplished by alternating between minor and major keys; changing the dynamics; and varying the harmonic rhythm from fast to slow pace. I really appreciate the simple choral harmony starting at 16:15 which gives emphasis to the lyrics. The whole piece ended in a Major tonic giving it a happy and grandioso ending.
I have to commend the Soprano and Baritone soloists. The soprano doesn’t just have a pretty face but a very beautiful voice as well. The Baritone did an excellent work. But I think he’s really a tenor singing on lower registers because I can hear a glottal sound with his low notes sometimes. I believe his part can be more accomplished by a Bass or a true Baritone.
This is a wonderful piece of music! I wish I have an English translation of the lyrics and a hard copy of this large work so I can comment better. I’m not really an expert but I love classical music so much!