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In translations where the punctuation is scrupulously mimicked, I tend to fear that a similar attention has been paid to the words. Reed has re-aligned and rephrased many of the originals, often breaking up sentences into shorter, punchier units. He has a superb sense of the music and tension of a line, and knows how to pace several lines in succession: this is perhaps the single crucial difference between a translation by a poet and the poetry of a translator.
The ridge brightened. From the platform of the piledriver naiad ripples somersaulted, silent trumpeters, and sank, melting in the foam grazed by your step.
The original stanza is eight lines long. Two things are clear: that Reed has re-imagined the scene, and that he writes English verse to an incomparably higher standard. He even manages that daunting form, the short poem, which in less skilful hands can resemble a few bricks falling over one another:.
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Insistently a cricket penetrates so many layers of vegetable silk. Another transient gleam, and in the scarlet ivies, other fires. The word dries on the change I lazed the day through reflecting that Lear and Cordelia suffered no such problems, and mooned around the tombs of Lucumos, the Piranesi streets of old Leghorn. The effort is so eerie it seems to me Montale must have a hand in it as well as the translator. Certainly, Reed seems to me to have done wonderfully well to have enlisted Lowell on his side.
The only real criticism I would make of Reed is tautological: that he is not Montale. E la nube che vede? Ha tante facce la polla sehiusa.
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The earth reflects the blue mirror of space. An orange cork-float drifts with the current which eddies round overhanging bridges. The city builds behind as sluggish surf. The English is far too commonsensical and humdrum: it is one of the occasions where Reed fails to offer compensation for what is lost. In this case, the deficit is enormous: the happiness of the cork, a giddy world in which the bridges are upside-down, and the sun and moon — brother and sister, maybe — are together, an adumbration of the various perfect rounds and arches, the whole thing touched with envy, and almost in the form of a toast.
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Sechs Motetten, No. 5: Musica Dei donum
Evil conquers The wheel does not stop: Also Thou knewest this, Lux-in-Tenebris! From the platform of the piledriver naiad ripples somersaulted, silent trumpeters, and sank, melting in the foam grazed by your step The original stanza is eight lines long.
After the closing prayers the worshippers made a certain amount of noise to represent nature in turmoil at the death of Christ. Once the noise had died away, the remaining candle was brought out from behind the altar a sign of the resurrection , returned to the stand and extinguished. The Lessons for the First Nocturn on each day are from the Lamentations. Victoria set these but not the Responsories.
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In the Second and Third Nocturns of each day Victoria did the opposite and set the Responsories, leaving the Lessons to be chanted by a deacon. Since Victoria wrote the music to adorn the Liturgy, he kept strictly to the repeats prescribed by tradition, which this recording preserves: a repetition of the second section of the opening four-part music after the reduced-voice passage, giving a kind of da capo shape: ABCB. This happens in all eighteen pieces. In this scheme the A and B passages are invariably scored for four voices, while section C is always for fewer voice-parts, and sung by soloists.
The detail of the scoring shows how carefully Victoria kept to a plan.
The reduced-voice passages are scarcely less ordered, all being for three voices, except the first one which is a duet. This precise scheme serves as a simple framework for the emotional variety in the music. Part of the clue as to how Victoria achieved this variety lies in the details of the Passion narrative. For a late Renaissance composer, albeit one who never wrote any madrigals, the story gives unlimited opportunities for different kinds of word-painting, as well as describing states of mind which vary from the supremely tragic to the contemplative.
How Victoria encompassed these differences in an idiom so straightforward that it scarcely touches on imitative counterpoint is one of the great miracles of musical thought. The text has its own impact, which may be discovered by reading it aloud. Victoria started from this point, being careful to capture the natural speech rhythms, keeping to syllabic setting and so never indulging in the early Renaissance delight of music for its own sake ; and then heightened the meaning of a verbal phrase with the right turn of harmony or fragment of melody.
This pared-down musical idiom, unfamiliar to composers before the late sixteenth century, was lost again during the Baroque period. It has become once again a goal for composers during the twentieth century; but, attractive as the idea of an elemental style has proved to be for many, to express oneself clearly requires complete certainty about what one has to say. Victoria remains a model for them all. Update Required To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.
Don't show me this message again. But, more to the point, the singing and recording are outstanding.