You remember when I talked about the characteristics of the pastorale having to do with life in the country, and--oh yes--shepherds? Yes. The shepherds. What happened to them? They seem to have been marginalized again.
he's the one on the extreme right--behind the animals
I mentioned before that one of the attributes of many a pastorale is that it was written by a cosmopolitan city-dwelling composer, and that, along with its corollary in the other arts, a pastorale romanticizes, rather than accurately depicts, a life that seems inviting to people who have never lived it.
I mean, who wouldn't want to be a shepherd after listening to Bach tell us about them?
But I'd like to set the stage for some pastorals of a rather different sort that I discovered a few months ago and will be playing for Christmas this year, and to get there, I'd like to return to some of the pastorale's more basic elements. Simplify a little.
Here is a little example by Italian composer Girolamo Frescobaldi. It has a hybrid title; it is a both a pastorale and a capriccio (which basically gives him license to take license, though it doesn't sound all that capricious to me). Frescobaldi's "Cappricio Pastorale" is in a relaxed triple meter (check!) and it contains a drone bass (check!) which not only opens the piece, but is present from beginning to end (the note changes only a few times, and remains on a G for more than 2/3 of the work's length). It certainly seems evocative of a simple country life. And this time, there is no story telling. The shepherds are not interrupted by any bothersome angels; life is peaceful and unchanging, just the way we like it.
Frescobaldi: Cappricio Pastorale
well, that was short, wasn't it? That should give us the impetus to get to part nine of this series. You're nearing the summit!