Friday, April 06, 2012

Sunday Classics Easter Edition preview: It's a miracle -- no, TWO miracles! Berlioz imagines the saving of the baby Jesus


Yessirree, girls 'n' boys 'n' moms 'n' dads . . .

It's a genuine downloadable "Holy Family Picture" coloring page! Download the pattern, color it in with crayons, cut it out with scissors, and with the mere addition of navy blue construction paper, four Popsicle sticks, glue, and a gold or silver star, you can make your very own version of this lovely, um, thing -- just in time for the holiday! (One quick word of caution, though, kids: "Parental supervision is recommended.")
NARRATOR: In the manger at this time Jesus had just been born,
but no wonder had yet made him known.
And already the powerful were trembling;
already the weak were hoping.
Everyone was waiting.

Now learn, Christians, what a monstrous crime
was suggested to the King of the Jews by terror.
And the celestial warning that in their humble stable
was sent to the parents of Jesus by the Lord.

Michel Sénéchal, tenor; Orchestre des Concerts Colonne, Pierre Dervaux, cond. Véga/Adès, recorded 1959

by Ken

Personally, as a culturally Jewish nonreligious person, I have no stake in Easter, unless you count the slashed-price leftover chocolate bunnies and Easter-colored m&m's we can look forward to finding on the shelves next week. And while I can't speak for Hector Berlioz, I don't think his "sacred trilogy" The Childhood of Christ has much to do with religion either -- unless you think of religion as having something to do with fundamental issues of humanity and human relations, stuff like social responsibility, altruism, and empathy. And how crazy do you have to be to think of those things as having anything to do with religion?

Usually at Sunday Classics we "do" Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ in time for the Christmas season, along with Handel's Messiah. After December's preview post (in which we heard Nicolai Gedda singing the first tenor solos from both works), the main post focused on Messiah (we heard the whole of Part I), leaving us with an opening for a special Easter edition devoted to L'Enfance, focusing on the two miracles depicted in the text (the composer's own) and music. The one that the composer himself seems to focus on, as expressed in the opening narration that we've just heard, is the "celestial warning" that enables Joseph and Mary to spirit the baby Jesus away to safety from the paranoia-induced infanticide ordered by King Herod.

But as it turns out, the first miracle saves the little one only in the short term, and the second miracle is wrought entirely by human agency. Without giving short shrift to the first miracle, this holiday weekend we're going to be keeping an ear open for the second.



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At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Bill Smith said...

Props to Ken for featuring an atheist composer on this god-filled weekend!


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