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David Dalle
Thursday December 18th, 2014 with David Dalle
Schubert's Dark Night of the Soul

My annual tradition nearing December 21st narrates a musical drama from darkness to light. Today the darkness will come from one of Schubert's most tormented works: his penultimate piano sonata. Unexpectedly so, because it is a work in a major key, though much of Schubert's most disturbing music are in major keys. This work was composed in the final months of Schubert's brief life. The first movement of the sonata does not prepare the listener for what's to come despite later movements recalling the first movement extensively. It is music of almost pure innocence, a blissful dream that will be lost. The second movement is the tortured heart of this work, it is f# minor which is the relative minor of A major, however the relative minor is never hinted at in the first movement and the harmony here just emphasizes its alienation from the first movement. The theme is a sigh, muffled sobbing from a distance, this sad lonely texture is violently ripped apart by a central section full of harsh modulations that sounds like madness, a mind coming apart. It leads into a brief major section where the opening dream is remembered, but remembered with grief as something lost before the lamenting minor theme comes back and brings the movement to a muted close. The third movement is a bright scherzo which provides an almost necessary respite from the despair of the previous movement. There are hints of violence and reminiscences of the first movement, and the overall brightness of this movement is not convincing. The closing lyrical rondo suggests we are back in the comforting embrace of home, but anxiety pervades underneath until it is brought to the surface in the coda where the music seems uncertain how to resolve, it pauses and pauses again where fragments of the main theme are presented in unexpected keys before another briefly violent section and the sonata is hammered close with an invocation of the opening of the sonata. Though it seems to have come full circle, this ending sounds forced, frustrated, this sonata is ultimately about grief and loss. Schubert himself could provide the light that follows this dark episode with his final sonata in B-flat major, but that will be on another show. Instead, we reach out for the light with exuberant, festive and joyful music from around the world as humanity has always done at the Winter Solstice, to rage against the dying of the light.
Piano Sonata in A D959
Franz Schubert/Paul Lewis - The Late Piano Sonatas - Harmonia Mundi
Kantate BWV 50 Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft
Johann Sebastian Bach/Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner - Motets - Erato
Genesisi Endlu Nkulu - The Spirit of African Gospel - ARC
Jesu Oa Re Lwela
Baswa Ba Tumela - The Spirit of African Gospel - ARC
Acholi Bwala Dance
Anonymous - East Africa: Ceremonial & Folk Music - Nonesuch
Baswa Ba Tumela - The Spirit of African Gospel - ARC
Oay Lahy E
Hiran'ny Tanoran'ny Ntao Lo - The Music of Madagascar - Classic Traditional Recordings of the 1930s - Yazoo/Shanachie
Lalalana Afakando
Rakota Frah - Flute Master of Madagascar - Globestyle
Issake Shango
Kekele - Congo Life - Sterns
Que Traigan El Guaguanco
Estrellas De Areito - Los Heroes - World Circuit/Nonesuch
Natureza Viva
Olodum - Pela Vida - Cheiro
Hassan Hakmoun - Unity - Healing Records
El guazia
Groupe Ben Souda - Moroccan Gypsies - ARC
Jamal Jamalu
Anonymous - Hot Bandari Dance Music 2 - Caltex
Bratsch - Urban Bratsch - World Village
Disco Dzumbus
Fanfare Ciocarlia & Boban and Marko Markovic Orkestar - Balkan Brass Battle - Asphalt Tango
Interactive CKCU
Thanks David for the lovely music this aft. I am not very familiar with Schubert, so a treat. ( Also excellent music to stay out of malls to. ;^)

2:41 PM, December 18th, 2014
David Dalle (host)
Of course! December is such a great month for listening to music, I find the short days and long nights very suggestive for certain music, and NOT Kenny G's arrangement of White Christmas in a mall!

2:45 PM, December 18th, 2014
"Kenny G's arrangement of White Christmas in a mall" ... that would put me into a very dark mood indeed ...

3:06 PM, December 18th, 2014
David Dalle (host)

3:22 PM, December 18th, 2014
David Dalle (host)
Ok, I may be biased, but this entire second set represents a FANTASTIC time! :)

3:53 PM, December 18th, 2014
Great show! Jimbo Mathus has a song / album called "Dark Night of the Soul". It's also worth a listen.

1:21 PM, December 20th, 2014
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