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T.Jecrams Parmaxto. Rath. London

Vol. XV


No. 172


T-HE competition for the best essay on "What I consider the three songs or arias or duets that most perfectly evoke for me the emotion of passionate love" did not attract a very large number of entries, but t ime was short and the first ten days of August bring to so many people the cares of holiday t ime. However, the quality was good and the competition was well worth whi1e. I have no hesitation in awarding the first prize to Miss Lesley Moore, 18 Maid's Causeway, CamĀ­ bridge, for the following really admirable l i t t le essay.

After reading the Editor's extremely pertinent remarks on the limitations of music in expressing croticism, i t seems almost superfluous to say more, since I am so nearly in complete agreement with him. Yet if the " passionate love" of the subject of this essay may be interpreted as extending to the depraved passion of necrophilia, then I must claim that, for me at any rate, there is one exception to this limitation, and I submit for first place the final scene of Strauss'sSalome.

This quasi-aria is by far the most erotic music I have yet heard, and even bereft of its words and stage-action, I feel that the emotion of eroticism is thoroughly evoked. I t is unwholesome music to be sure, but i t strikes straight at the pit of the stomach~and that, after all, is where passionate love, whether perverted or normal, most makes itself felt.

unexpected in the more mature Ballo ill Maschera. But the slow first section-" Non sai tu che l'anima mia "-is richly sensuous, and the long sweeping phrases for the soprano, imitated in the orchestra, culminating in the tenor's " M 'ami Amelia" ecstatically portrayed in a falling phrase which is completed by the violins in yet another imitation of the soprano's cadence, leave no room for doubt as to the emotion depicted.

These then are my three choices, and I have endeavoured very briefly to explain why, though I fear that the only technical device I have been able to detect is the obvious one of using human voices to denote human passions, though given more space I might expatiate on more technical musical accomplishments.

I hope I do not have to disclaim a prejudice in favour of Miss 1;{00re's essay because she has expressed her agreement with my remarks on this topic in the August number! There is no doubt that she has thought the matter out, and as editor I shall be delighted to give her more space when she wants i t , that she may " expatiate on more technical musical accomplishments ."

I have another interesting essay from Cambridge, and that was from Mr. G. N. Sharp, of Fulbourn Manor. In the letter accompanying his essay he writes:

After making this one exception I must now try to present a case for my second and third choices, and I will begin with the love duet from Tristan and Isolde. Admittedly we must discount both the stage-setting and the words in order to assess the passionate quality of the music alone; but what we cannot discount is the composer's wilful employment of voices in his score, for this device belongs specifically to the technique of orchestration, and orchestration is specifically a musical factor. I grant that if the entire opera were to be rewritten, and the voice parts allotted to instruments, there would be a probability of a mere change of title being able to change the emotion of the listener, but we cannot overlook the fact that Tristan is written for voices, and this textural device-whether with or without words-at once imparts humanity to the surging turgidity of the music, and the result most certainly evokes the emotion of love.

Having argued that the use of the human voice in a score. is a legitimate musical method of suggesting human emotIOn, I now suggest for third place the love duet from Act 3 of Un Ballo ill Maschera. I do not include the final cabaletta, where the music is not only in the unemotional key of C major, but is also in the conventional, retrogressive style that one associates with earlier Verdi, and is

A ,

I feel I must ask why you allow this futile correspondence on tenors in general and Martinelli in particular to drag out its weary course in the columns of THE GRAMOPHONE? Mr. John Richardson seems to have said the last word very well in the current issue: so can't we leave i t at that?

I was surprised to see that Mr. Youens has advocated the recording of some of the music of van Dieren; I thought he was too uncompromising in his writings to be spoken of in publi c ! Seriously though, why have we no recordings of his work? What is wrong with his output which can be found listed in " Grove," but practically nowhere else?

With regard to these correspondents, Mr. Sharp must remember that an editor is to a large extent at the mercy of his postbag, and that if some topic rouses an exceptional number of readers to dip pen in ink he must pay attention to a due proportion of them, whether or not he himself may think the correspondence futile. I should much prefer a voluminous correspondence on passionate love in music, but if the letters do not arrive we shall have to assume that the interest in such a topic is restricted to a small minority.

I cordially support the suggestion in the second paragraph about the music of van Dieren. He may