Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Year's Music: Ginastera's Lamentaciones de Jeremias Propheta

I like the Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983), as I write about here. A while back, I ordered a 2003 CD on the Guild label, "Oratio: 20th Century Sacred Music from Spain & Latin America," with Carlos Fernandex Aransay conducting Coro Cervantes. I'll probably write about some of the other pieces eventually but this time I listened to Ginastera's piece based on selected texts from the biblical book Lamentations. The CD notes indicate that many of the pieces are informed by the Spanish experience of Civil War, while Ginastera's was a response to the composer being removed from his teaching position during the regime of Juan Peron. While temporarily in the U.S., the composer wrote this piece, which the CD notes calls "a true symbol of the Zeitgeist of of a century which has ended with as many musical and social uncertainties as those with which it began."

I began to write this before the news of the Paris terrorist attack of Nov. 13th, and today (the next morning), the piece, and the book of Lamentations, seems fitting for the uncertainties of our present time.

"O dos omnes
O, all you who pass this way; behold and see if there be any sorrow like my sorrow. For the Lord has afflicted me, as he said in the day of his raging anger. See, Lord, I am troubled, my bowels writhe in anguish, my heart is turned within me, for I am full of bitterness; abroad the sword destroys, and at home is death. For that reason I lament, and my eye pours down water for the consoler, who may renew my soul, is taken from me. My sons are desolate, for the enemy grows is victorious. You persist in fury and you crush those under the heavens.

"Ego vir vivens
I am the man who sees my poverty under the rod of His indignation. he has led me away and suspended me in darkness, where no light is. he has made my skin and flesh old. He has broken my bones. He has put me in dark places like those long dead. But whenever I cry out and plead, He shuts out my prayer. And I said my strength and hope have perished because of the Lord.

Remember, Lord, what has befallen us, look and consider our disgrace. Turn us back to you, Lord, and we shall come back; renew our days as in the beginning. You, however, O Lord, will remain forever; your throne through the generations."

(Ginastera's text is in Latin, but this English translation and a Spanish translation is provided in the CD book.)

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