Wednesday, May 03, 2006

On Art & Music and Stuff...

The Cnytr has an excellent post about the Alba Madonna and Fra Angelico's Adoration of the Magi. Personally I'm fascinated by the Baptist in the Alba Madonna:
The figure of John the Baptist as a child completes the tri-figure scene. In contrast to the leftward-gazing Madonna and child, John gazes up at the two in childlike admiration, but not without a touch of melancholy. His expression seems to be that of a small boy about to cry over something genuinely tragic. Grasping the bottom of the cross in a seeming act of homage and in reference to the traditional depiction of John the Baptist as holding the cross-herald with the “Ecce Agnus Dei” banner, John’s figure stands outside of, or perhaps on the very edge of, the central triangular shape created by the virgin’s head and elbow, completed either with the torso of the Christ child, or else with John’s face.
Over at Hymnography Unbound we have a critique of Mozart's liturgical music as liturgical music:
I am similarly suspicious of Mozart's use of rhythm on the word "sanguine." Obviously this is a high point of the mysticism of the text, yet Mozart throws in this precious syncopation at just that moment. Then he starts again with a clean D major--even a pristine D major because one of the notes is left out and only the bare and indisputably D major notes (D and F#) are left, and sung in the high voices, like a boy's choir that has no concept of the meaning of sacrifice. It is as though the Blood never happened, except as a platform for Mozart's excessive exercise in rhythm. I could go on and on.
I frankly admit that I'm out my depth there, but in an earlier post she says something interesting:
I would say that all truly liturgical artists must be careful to be highly derivative, in the best sense. There is no original revelation, just further or subjective reflections upon the one revealed Truth. And yet the expressions of the subjectively tasted realities must be in such deep continuity with what has come before in the tradition--if they are to be used as liturgical art--that there seems nothing particularly new or fashionable about them. It should be just the same thing, told a little differently this time, but in almost exactly the same way as well.
When she writes that I immediately think of Haugen's hideous Mass of Creation. That's one piece of so-called liturgical music that always strikes me as being at heart pagan.

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