Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Music for Psalm 110

Okay, only one piece of music for Psalm 110:
Händel's Dixit Dominus

We progress from the sober tones of being in the depths ... to rushing to God's presence ... in Bach's setting of Psalm 130 ...

And now we have the roundly declarative - almost aggressively delcarative - tones of the Dixit Dominus in Psalm 110. There is a sort of very serious, pointed jubilation in Händel's piece. It reminds me of the eschatological aspect of Christ's Lordship.

We will be conducting this Bible study on Silent Saturday, so in a way ... very inappropriate for this particular day. However, this is our only day for dealing with the Holy Week - with Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. This is a piece really fit for Easter Sunday - or perhaps Christ the King. But in Holy Week, we must dwell on Christ - and Psalm 110 is, I think, an excellent way to move from the sober tones of Psalm 130 (we will already have Good Friday behind us), to expectation of the Resurrection, and a meditation of who Christ is.

A version by the Balthasar-Neumann Choir is very aggressive - in the first few seconds the recording even has a bit of distortion, probably an unexpected fortissimo - I selected this one to give you and idea of how Baroque music is sometimes interpreted today - and how much more expressive it is than the more serene, "ideal dinner music" type recordings - though you may prefer versions which are mildly less aggressive than this one. So here the Balthasar-Neumann Choir version.

And here's a version of Händel's Dixit which is a bit less aggressive. I wanted to find one performed earlier - like in the 70's - that would be a better example of how baroque music used to be performed - the serene, "ideal dinner music" interpretation, like so many renditions of Vivaldi's Four Seasons - but didn't find any.