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MP3 Alex Jacobowitz - Aria

Virtuoso Marimba transcriptions of Domenico Scarlatti, Johann Sebastian Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Albéniz, & Tárrega. Distributed by https://www.tradebit.com

16 MP3 Songs in this album (52:11) !
Related styles: Classical: Chamber Music, Classical: Bach, Solo Instrumental

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The compositional life of the Italian cum Spaniard Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757) ignited only after Scarlatti’s move to Spain in 1729, and is marked by the development of his characteristic style that can be found especially in the collections of his almost 600 harpsichord sonatas, almost entirely written for his student, Queen Maria Barbara.

The designation “sonata” in Scarlatti’s terminology is specifically used for pieces in binary form, meaning their structure is divided into two separate parts, more harmonically symmetrical than thematically related; and with the late Sonata in E major, K. 380 (1754), we enter the “final glorious period”, featuring marvelous examples of the mature and fully developed Scarlatti style, where “the player … will find that now … it is possible for Scarlatti to make him gasp with surprise and pleasure.” (Ralph Kirkpatrick, Domenico Scarlatti)

The Sonata in b minor, K. 87 (1742) is one of the first slow movements found among the harpsichord pieces and is, as the pianist Christian Zacharias describes it, an “embodiment of the Spanish past, a Vittoria madrigal reborn, austere yet unfettered by the conventions of counterpoint, polyphonic yet already with the voices blending in subordination to one single idea.”

Scarlatti’s sonatas are not narrative and their perspective basically stays the same throughout each piece, but it is the exhaustion of one idea, defined in the beginning, that dominates the music.

The Partita no.3 in E major, BWV 1006, was written during Bach’s Cöthen years (1717–1723). The instrumental music composed during these years is already characterized by Bach’s pursuit of symmetry and internal systems, which is noticeable especially in the cycles of the Brandenburg Concertos, the French and English Suites, the cello suites and the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Unaccompanied Violin, all of them grouped into works of sixes. The Partita no. 3 for violin, taken from the last-named cycle, above all stands out by its strongly French-influenced style. In this suite, Bach almost completely abandoned the sequence of movements of the baroque suite, existing of the foundation of dance movements (allemande–courante–sarabande–gigue) and replaces them, except for the gigue, by specifically French dances like loure, gavotte (enrondeau), menuet I & II, and bourée, that give the composition its very own delicate character.

Although no particulars regarding the instrumentation can be found in Bach’s autograph, the violin version is considered the original. It seems that Bach himself was so taken with this cheerful and fleet-footed suite (for which he interchangeably used the designation “partita”) that he transcribed the whole work for the lute (Fourth Suite in E major, BWV 1006a) and used the prelude of the same in the cantatas BWV 120a and 29 (Ratswahlkantate) in a version for organ and orchestra.

A deeply religious Lutheran, Bach often combined Christian mysticism with musical mathematics in his masterworks of the 1740’s; but of all Bach’s late works, the Goldberg Variations most represent the window to this complex inner universe.

This mysticism was largely modeled on the Kabbala, or ancient Jewish mysticism, the seminal work of which is the Sefer Yetzira (from Hebrew, The Book of Creation). This book begins with the 32 paths to wisdom – the 10 sefirot (characteristics of the Creator an the Created) plus the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and their equivalent mathematical values. Using this method, the Tetragrammaton (the name of the Creator) equals 26, while adding the Tetragrammaton to the letter that represents the Messiah equals 30. Many music theorists believe Bach used this number theory in Goldberg’s musical structure.

The Goldberg Variations, originally composed for the two-manual harpsichord, has 32 parts: the Aria (an elaborate solo melody), thirty variations on the Aria’s bass line, and the final version of the Aria. This Aria is a highly sophisticated binary dance of 32 measures that Bach had earlier used for teaching purposes, as the 26th composition of the Anna Magdalena Notebook of 1725.

Variation 25 (the twenty-sixth part of Goldberg, in the parallel minor) is for many people “the crown of the whole work; composed in the style of a richly ornamented violin adagio, its deeply sad melody over a chromatically descending bass sets tones that … only the brotherhood of those marked by pain can understand.” [1]

With the return of the Aria, the circle closes, yet somehow begins anew.

Although Vienna had almost been overrun by the Turks twice in the 17th century, by the middle of the 18th century Turkish culture conquered Viennese society: Turkish baths, spicy dishes, Turkish coffee, and Turkish music – everything Turkish was in vogue.

Artists also tried to keep up with this latest fashion in their novels, plays, operas (Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens, with its Turkish March), no doubt because it gave them an opportunity to introduce exotic ideas that would have normally been considered heresy in Catholic Vienna. One such “heresy” was the use of percussion instruments, which the Church had outlawed as being “the noise of the Devil”.

The Janissaries were the heart of the Turkish infantry, and a Janissary band that had been taken prisoner later became the model for a new style of military music. Raucous accompaniment, with a few changing chords, is characteristic of this music – and it was their instruments (snare and bass drum, cymbals, tambourine and triangle, Turkish crescent) that eventually became an integral part of the orchestra’s percussion section.

The Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331 is probably Mozart’s most famous and, as noted musicologist Alfred Einstein claimed, is the sonata “that gave so many people their introduction to Mozart”. It’s unusual in that it begins with a variation set (the theme of which Einstein called “utterly French”), and closes with a rondo. It is one of the four piano sonatas written between 1778-1784 [2], and was probably composed during Mozart’s early years in Vienna, when he sought fame and success by writing mainly popular music, including extensive use of Turkish motifs. In the final movement, the Alla turca (a designation often used at the time), Mozart transcribed this Turkish music for the piano, with its crashing of cymbals and banging of drums. In a way, this recording brings the music back to percussion.

The Sonata in G major opus 49, no.2 is surely the easiest of all the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas, but “despite their slightness, they carry the authentic fingerprints” ,wrote Denis Matthews.[3] Written in 1795–6, Beethoven’s brother Carl had offered them to several publishers in Germany since 1802 without success; the two sonatas of opus 49 were finally published in Vienna in January 1805, between the mature “Tempest” and “Waldstein” sonatas. Despite their relatively late opus, the two “easy sonatas” (they comprise only two movements each) have to be considered Beethoven’s first two sonatas. The keys of opus 49, g minor and G major, formally show that already these early works were put opposite each other according to the principle of contrast. And Beethoven seemed to have liked his dotted melodic idea of the “Tempo di Meuetto” enough to later use it, in slightly changed form, as a theme to the Septet in Eb major, opus 20.

Although many French composers had used Spanish musical ideas, it wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century that Spanish composers themselves, the most famous among them Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados and Manuel de Falla, discovered the richness of Spanish national music.

In particular, the traditional music of Andalusia is regarded as representative of the whole country, and especially the cante jondo (deep, or profound song), also known as cante flamenco. Cante jondo includes different song types, some related by melodic or structural similarities. Originally expressing a more tragic sense of life, the cante jondo later became more popular and composers studied these songs, to imitate them in their own works. It was with the first performance of Bidet’s opera Carmen in 1875 that the cante jondo officially entered the field of classical music. The cante jondo plays a prominent role in the middle sections of the Malagueña and Leyenda presented here, while the outer sections are more wild dance than spiritual search.

To convey “the sense, the life and the character of the country” (Granados) was the composer’s aim and intention. “Dancing”, wrote the English psychologist Havelock Ellis, “is something more than amusement in Spain. It is part of that solemn ritual which enters into the whole life of the people. It expresses their very spirit.”

[1] H. Keller, Die Klavierwerke Bachs
[2] K.330-333 (300h-k & 315c)
[3] Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, BBC Publishing

Alex Jacobowitz was born in 1960 in New York. An undergraduate at the State University of New York, he had to study all percussion instruments, but he fell in love with the special sound of the xylophone. He asked his percussion professor what was necessary to become a world-class xylophonist, who only laughed and answered: “There is no such thing!” – That’s when Alex decided to become such a thing. Jacobowitz went to study with Gordon Stout and Leigh Howard Stevens, in 1981 won the DCI Individual Keyboard Competition in Montreal and became one of the few professional xylophone soloists in the world. After a year with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, he left the life of an orchestral percussionist behind and ever since tours the world as a xylophone soloist. Solo performances on European television, radio shows and countless newspaper articles in the past years mark his search for the “True, the Beautiful and the Good”. While working as a kibbutz volunteer in Israel in 1982-3, he returned to traditional Judaism, and since 1989 calls Jerusalem his home. “Music is a language that brings me closer to the Creator,” says Jacobowitz. Therefore one of his major goals as a performer is to combine his love of music and his personal musical growth with the search for closeness to the Creator – to learn how to combine service of the hands with dedication of the heart. Alex Jacobowitz wishes to share his message of humanity, communication and tolerance, along with the beauty of music, with as many people as possible. Every summer he travels throughout Europe, playing in the pedestrian areas of the larger cities. This way he can more directly contact his audience. Every day he reaches out to thousands of people in this way, and delights them with his special mixture of classical concert and New York street show. During the winter months he prepares new recordings and follows a more “conventional” career inside concert

The xylophone is one of the oldest instruments in the world, and is similar to the more primitive African instrument, the marimba. In modern times, the concert xylophone (from Greek “xylos” = wood, “phonos” = sound) has been tuned and arranged similar to the keyboard, following the principle of rows of white and black keys. Rosewood bars resting over columns of air and struck with two mallets in each hand, achieve the instrument’s distinctively warm and sometimes mystical sound. For this recording, Alex Jacobowitz plays a five-octave instrument manufactured by Adams Company, Thorn, Holland.

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