Stefano Donaudy: Come l’alodoletta (Like the little skylark)

19 11 2009
A skylark

by aaardvaark, under Creative Commons

“Peace and happiness flee a gentle heart in which love rules alone”

 

Stefano Donaudy’s music is timeless. Though written in the style of the 17th and 18th centuries, Donaudy himself lived early in the 20th century, and is known almost exclusively for his Arie di stile antico, the most commonly performed being Vaghissima sembianza (made popular by Enrico Caruso’s early recording), Sento nel core, O del mio amato ben, and Spirate pur spirate. They remain favorites of singers and teachers alike for their heartfelt texts (written by Donaudy’s brother, Alfredo) their simple yet effective accompaniments, and their exquisite sense of line.

Roberto Guarino recorded all 36 of the songs, which remains the gold standard reference recording. Though the University of Rochester only has the first 24 songs available online, there are volumes of all 36 songs commonly available for purchase in both high and low keys. Every singer should have these songs in his or her possession for their simplicity and beauty, as demonstrated in this song about the skylark.

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Adolf Jensen: Song Cycle — Dolorosa (Sadness)

17 11 2009

By zu78, used under Creative Commons

“The day I have enjoyed is now gone”

I fell off the horse, but I’m back on again. For awhile, I’ll post every 2-3 days. Better than nothing!

Adolf Jensen was a late romantic German composer and pianist known primarily for his piano and vocal works. According to Grove Music Dictionary, he “possessed one of the most delicate sensibilities of all late Romantic composers.” He knew several of the great composers and musicians of the day, dedicating his works to Berlioz, Brahms, Franz, and Gade, among others. “He succeeded in his mature piano music and songs in assimilating the stylistic influences of Chopin and Liszt into a thoroughly personal style. His professed aspiration in his later works was ‘to translate Wagner’s ideas of beauty and truth into music in the smaller forms.’”

Without question, Jensen is a name like so many others that has all but faded from musical memory. If these songs are any indication, it is perhaps due to the choice of maudlin texts and too strong a reliance on traditional harmonies and forms; at first glance, there appears to be  a lack of dimension or surprise in the piano and vocal writing. On the other hand, the simplicity and straight-forwardness of the music fits the text quite well. Unfortunately, I can’t find any recordings digitally available and not all of the songs are available yet on IMSLP, but the cycle definitely deserves a read and may prove useful as teaching pieces or on a musical program.