Music of joy

A sort of appendix to my 4/20 posting “Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen!”, which was centrally about the expression of joy in music (and also a very many other things). As I noted there, joy is a big thing in my life; I seek out occasions where I can experience joy (like conversation, dancing, and, of course, sex) and things that display joy (as in joyful smiles; I collect images of pleasurable smiles, mostly by men) or embody joy (as in hymns of joy) or evoke joy (as in kissing; I have another collection of same-sex kisses, mostly men). Since music is also very important to me — has been woven into my daily life since I was a child — some years back I started assembling (on my computer) albums of the music of joy.

Eventually, there were two little albums, Joy 1.1 and Joy 1.2, of what was categorized (on iTunes, now Apple Music) as classical music (which includes, among other things, hymns, especially those in the shapenote music tradition of the Sacred Harp). Pieces of music that struck me as joyful when they came by in more or less randomized play from my huge collection. Strongly tilted towards chamber music, because chamber music is conversational; and towards piano music, because I was once a pianist. Selected with some care to sample the different tonalities of musical joy: bright, celebratory; intense, even ecstatic; playful, delightful (scherzos!). And then ordered in an attempt to offer shifting and contrasting pleasures to the listener.

Just the beginning. I’ve avoided some of the obvious items — people ask, Where’s Beethoven’s Ode to Joy? Where’s “Joy to the World”? Well, they’re so familiar and loom so large that they’re likely to overshadow the rest, so I haven’t figured out how to work them into another album. But I’ll talk about them here. And I continue to collect candidates for Joy 1.3. (Separately, and with difficulty, I’ve been working on Joy 2, with popular music of many kinds, but it turns out that unmingled joy — joy without darker emotions mixed in —  is not all that common in pop music. But I’ll show you what I’ve got.)

— Joy 1.1:

1 “Sound, Sound Your Instruments Of Joy”: The Watersons,  Frost And Fire

2 Chopin Op 25 No 3 in F major: Maurizio Pollini, Chopin: Etudes

3 Mozart KV 381, Allegro molto: Daniel Barenboim, Kyrl Zlotnikov, Nikolaj Znaider,  Klaviermusik zu 4 Händen

4 “Boston”: The Boston Camerata led by Joel Cohen, An American Christmas

5 Schubert Quintet in A major, Op 114, D 667 “The Trout”, Mvt I, Allegro Vivace: Ax, Frank, Young, Ma, Meyer, Trout Quintet & Arpeggione Sonata album

6 Handel, “Happy we!”: King’s Consort directed by Robert King, Acis and Galatea

7 Mozart, “Papagena, Papagena, Papagena!”: Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmon, Die Zauberflöte

8 Beethoven Op 24 Mvt I, Allegro: Isaac Stern, Beethoven Violin Sonatas

9 Mozart Piano Concerto No 17 in G major, K 453 Mvt III, Allegretto: Murray Perahia and the English Chamber Orchestra, Mozart Piano Concertos album

10 Schumann Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op 44 Mvt I, Allegro brillante: Martha Argerich, Robert Schumann album

— Joy 1.2:

1 “Mount Desert”:  Village Harmony & The Bayley Hazen Singers, Emerald Stream

2 Chopin, Étude No 3 in F major, Op 25: Murray Perahia, Chopin Études – Opus 10, Opus 25

3 Mozart, “Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja”: Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, Die Zauberflöte

4 Beethoven Piano Trio Op 11 Mvt III, Allegretto: Ashkenazy, Perlman, Harrell

5 “Lovely Vine”: The Boston Camerata led by Joel Cohen, An American Christmas

6 Chopin, Etude Op 10 No 10 in A flat major: Vladimir Ashenazy, Etudes

7 Beethoven, Variations on ‘Ein Madchen oder Weibchen’ from Mozart’s ‘Zauberflote’ for piano & cello, Op 66: Rostropovich and Richter, Music for Cello and Piano

8 Schumann Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op 44 Mvt III, Scherzo: Martha Argerich, Robert Schumann album

9 Brahms, Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op 24 Var. XXV: Emmanuel Ax album

10 Mahler, “Urlicht”, Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht: Mehta and the Wiener Philharmoniker, Mahler Symphony No. 2

11 Beethoven Violin Sonata Op 47 Mvt III, Finale, Presto: Isaac Stern Beethoven Violin Sonatas

— Joy 2: mostly stuff you can dance to:

1 “Oh Happy Day”: Edwin Hawkins Singers, Oh Happy Day

2 “I Don’t Know What It Is”: Rufus Wainwright, Want One

3 “Cookie Day”: Shonen Knife, Happy Hour

4 “Iko Iko”: Charmaine Neville, Queen of the Mardi Gras

5 “I Got You Babe”: The Pretenders, Greatest Hits

6 “Iko Iko”: Zap Mama, Iko Iko

7 “Pata Pata!”: Talisman, Passages

from 4/20/22,”Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen!”

Gilbert & Sullivan, “Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen”, finale of H.M.S. Pinafore (unidentified recording)

Purcell, “They shall be happy as they are free” from The Fairy Queen, performed by William Christie & Les Arts Florissants

Purcell, “Hail, Bright Cecilia”, from Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day (1692), performed by the Gabrieli Consort and Gabrieli Players, directed by Paul McCreesh

Jeremiah Clarke, Trumpet Voluntary, Jonathan Scott’s performance of his solo organ arrangement

Mendelssohn, movements from the String Octet: 1 Allegro moderato, 3 Scherzo 4 Presto, performed by the Son Quartet and Vasara Quartet together (still another recorded performance linked to in the comments)

Mendelssohn, incidental music for Midsummer Night’s Dream: Mvt 2, Scherzo, played by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under Valery Gergiev

— Joy Breaking Out

1 Mahler’s “Urlicht”, #10 in Joy 1.2

2 Kyrie Eleison from Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli “Paukenmesse”, Mass No 10 in C major; from my 8/26/20 posting “Paukenmesse”:

The movement has a pattern common to a great many of Haydn’s symphonic movements: an initial slow introduction, then opening up into the main theme — in this case a songlike joyous “Kyrie Eleison”, which bursts out like a suddenly rising sun. Listen to the movement here, in an especially emotional performance conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

3 4th mvt of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, with Beethoven’s version of Schiller’s Ode to Joy — bursting into Freude, schöner Götterfunken (‘Joy, beautiful spark of divinity’). The 9th Symphony is one of the most analyzed works in classical music, so it’s hard to know what to say here; also one of the most recorded, so it’s hard to know which one to pick. And then the whole 4th movement takes 15-20 minutes to perform, which is out of scale for my little albums.

on my Apple Music: John Eliot Gardiner, leading his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and the Monteverdi Choir (DG recording of 1994, more recently reissued) – YouTube link here

Meanwhile, everything gets repurposed; the Ode to Joy resurfaces as the hymn “Joyful, joyful we adore thee”; the name of the hymn tune is Hymn to Joy (in my 1982 Episcopal hymn book, the text is by Henry Van Dyke, the tune setting by Edward Hodges, and Hodges admirably preserves Beethoven’s crucial anticipated note in the fourth line of the tune, rushing on to joy)

— “Joy to the World”

from my 12/13/11 posting “Text+Tune”, on the carol with the “Joy to the World” text (by Isaac Watts from 1719), customarily set to the tune Antioch (by Lowell Mason in 1839); on the history of Antioch (in which Handel might be implicated); and on other tunes for the text

recordings of “Joy to the World” in my Apple Music, by: The Boston Camerata, led by Joel Cohen; John Fahey; Three Dog Night; The Roches; Patty Loveless featuring Jon Randall and Emmylou Harris; Three Dog Night; St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, led by Gerre Hancock; The Blind Boys of Alabama

plus the Pentatonix video of “Joy to the World” (lots and lots of joy)

— from Handel’s Acis and Galatea

already in Joy 1.1, #6: “Happy we!”

now in my 5/3/22 posting “A moment of joy on waking up”, another recording of “Happy we!” (and still another in the comments), plus the joyous first chorus, “Oh, the pleasure of the plains!” (with a link to a recording)

— notes on Joy 1.2, #4: Beethoven’s Piano Trio Op 11 Mvt III

Trio in B flat major Op 11 “Gassenhauer” for clarinet (sometimes replaced by violin), piano, and cello (someties replaced by bassoon): I Allegro con brio, II Adagio, III Tema con variazioni (“Pria ch’io l’impegno”: Allegretto)

my notes: I is sweetly playful; III provides, in the main theme, sheer rippling playful joy; the variations vary in their tones, of course

from Wikipedia on III:

This particular melody, “Pria ch’io l’impegno” (“Before I go to work”), was so popular it could be heard in many of Vienna’s lanes (“Gasse” in German). A “Gassenhauer” usually denotes a (normally simple) tune that many people (in the Gassen) have taken up and sing or whistle for themselves, the tune as such having become rather independent from its compositional origins.

— reflections on things to include, in no particular order

1 – Piano Trio in B flat major, Op. 97 “Archduke”, by Ludwig van Beethoven

(recorded in 1970) Wilhelm Kempff, piano; Henryk Szeryng, violin; Pierre Fournier, cello – YouTube link

I Allegro moderato: sublime quiet pleasure, perhaps another tonality of joy

II Scherzo (Allegro): playful joy, with moments of intense joy breaking out repeatedly

III Andante cantabile ma però con moto – Poco piu adagio major: sublime quiet pleasure, leading to moments of Scherzoid delight and returnng to deep restfulness

IV Allegro moderato – Presto: bright (highly figured) playfulness

other recordings:

Bertrand Chamayou, piano; Eric Levionnois, cello; Nicolas Baldeyrou, clarinet – YouTube link

Mari Kodama, piano; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Pascal Moragues, clarinet – YouTube link

2 – something by Louis Moreau Gottschalk (lots of joy there) — need to search through the many recordings on my Apple Music

3 – some Beethoven folksongs — need to search the catalog (I have them all on my Apple Music) for some joyous ones

4 – Schumann, Piano Trio No 1 Op 63: IV Mit Feuer  — clearly a song of joy (heard on my Apple Music at night 5/2/22)

5 – from my 5/4/22 posting: “Turkish earworms of joy”: the final two numbers from Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, Vaudeville “Nie werd’ ich deine Huld verkennen” and the Turkish Chorus

6 – from my 5/5/22 posting “Go revel ye Cupids, the day is your own”: two numbers from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas: “Fear no danger to ensue” and “To the hills and the vales”; the Christmas carol “While shepherds watched their flocks” and the setting of it to the tune Sherburne

7 – from my 5/5/22 posting “Joyous praise”: the exulting carol by Jeremiah Ingalls, “Glory to God on High”; Handel’s “Hallelujah!” chorus, from Part II of Messiah; the opening number, “We praise Thee, O God” from Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum; the air for bass from Part III of Messiah, “The trumpet shall sound”

There is, of course, a lot more out there, as I discover, virtually every day. (Having to get up so often during the night does work as a kind of random sampling of the stuff that Apple Music thinks is classical music — a category much frayed around the edges — and that keeps turning up things I’d forgotten I had.)

But this will stand for the moment.



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: