About this Recording
8.573316 - CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO, M.: Evangélion (A. Marangoni)

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895–1968)


Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, born in Florence, Italy, studied composition and pianoforte at the Istituto Musicale Cherubini and later at the Liceo Musicale of Bologna. His mentors were Pizzetti and Casella, members of the influential Società Italiana di Musica, with whom Castelnuovo-Tedesco became closely associated.

In 1938, as a result of Mussolini’s anti-Jewish edicts, Castelnuovo-Tedesco decided to leave for the United States. After settling in California Castelnuovo-Tedesco became a prolific writer of film music between 1940 and 1956, in the same period composing more than seventy concert works.

As a teacher at the Los Angeles Conservatory, he numbered among his pupils Mancini, Nelson Riddle, Previn, and the composer John Williams. His works include operas, ballets, film scores, orchestral works, choral pieces and songs, chamber music, piano compositions, and over a hundred pieces for guitar.

Evangélion, Op. 141 was written in 1947. The composer’s father died that year and shortly after the composer was invited to Mexico by the ballerina, Katherine Dunham. While in Mexico he visited Acolman Convent, built between 1539 and 1580, and it is possible that from this experience, Evangelion emerged as a project. Though Jewish by culture, Castelnuovo-Tedesco constantly returned to Biblical and Shakespearean themes.

The twenty-eight movements, all programmatic in intent, cover many moods ranging from the simply childlike to the dramatically virtuosic, from the rhetorical to the profoundly introspective. The musical vocabulary, as is customary with Castelnuovo-Tedesco, is essentially traditional and tonal, evoking similar extended descriptive works written for keyboard such as Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Other compositions of 1947 included the Suite, Op. 133, for guitar, two Shakespeare Overtures, part of Katherine Dunham’s ballet The Octoroon Ball, Op. 136, Naomi and Ruth, Op. 137, Suite nello stile italiano, Op. 138, for piano solo and a film score. He also began work on his String Quartet No. 2, Op. 139, and an oratorio, The Book of Ruth, Op. 140.

Evangélion begins with The Annunciation [1] celebrating the angel Gabriel’s message to the Virgin Mary in Luke’s Gospel, i: 26–39. Gabriel says: Blessed art thou among women…And behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son and shalt call his name, JESUS.

The Nativity [2] is described in St. Luke, ii: 6–7: And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. After the birth St. Luke tells of the visits by shepherds who saw a vision of angels proclaiming ‘good tidings of great joy’.

The Three Kings [3] are in St Matthew, ii: 1–12: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. When they saw the young child and Mary, they fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, the presented him gifts; gold and frankincense and myrrh.

The arrival of the wise men troubled Herod the king. When they departed by another route and Herod realised he had been fooled, he was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under. This became known as The Massacre of the Innocents [4].

As a result of a dream about Herod, Joseph took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt [5] The family waited in Egypt until Herod’s death, Child Jesus and the Doctors [6] is in St, Luke ii: 40–52. Jesus, aged twelve, was taken to Jerusalem for the Passover. On leaving the city, Joseph and Mary discovered that Jesus was not with them. They returned to Jerusalem and searched for three days. Jesus was found in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

The Baptism of Jesus on the Jordan [7] is related by all four gospels. St Mark i: 9–11 provides the most succinct version: Jesus was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

The Dance of Salome [8] is found in Matthew xii: 1–12, and Mark vi: 14–30. Herod the Tetrarch of Galilee put John the Baptist in prison. The prophet was critical of the ruler’s affair with Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother. Because of John’s popularity Herod was unwilling to put him to death. When Herod’s birthday was celebrated, Herodias’s daughter, Salome, danced and pleased Herod. When he promised to give her whatsoever she would ask, Salome’s mother instructed her to ask for John the Baptist’s head in a charger. The king regretted this but because of his promise he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. The head was given to Salome, who gave it to her mother. The disciples of Jesus buried John’s body.

By the Sea of Galilee [9] represents a crucial stage in Jesus’s life. When the Pharisees conspired with the Herodians, Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea, and preached to a multitude. It was here, as related in Mark iii: 14–19 and Matthew iv: 18–20, that twelve disciples were chosen, several of them being fisherman. And he saith unto them, Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

Jesus Walking on the Waves [10] has fascinated readers over the centuries. As told in Matthew xiv: 22–33, the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee while Jesus went to pray. The ship, caught in a storm, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. In the night the disciples saw Jesus coming, walking on the waves. They thought it was a spirit but Jesus called to them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. Peter was invited to accompany Jesus on the water, but once he left the boat he became afraid and began to sink. Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? When Jesus came into the ship the wind ceased.

The Woman of Samaria [11] appears in John iv: 7–26. Jesus asks a Samarian woman to draw water from the well to drink. The woman, aware that Jews had no dealings with Samaritans, is amazed Jesus has spoken to her. Jesus responds with some of his profoundest sayings, But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

The Resurrection of Lazarus [12] is told only in John xi: 1–46. Lazarus of Bethany is sick and about to die. Jesus is told but waits for two days in another place. By the time Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for four days. Jesus commanded the mourners to roll the stone from the cave where the body lay, prayed and then cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth. Lazarus came forward bound hand and foot with grave clothes. Jesus asked for these to be loosened. Following this the Jews, under the high priest, Caiaphas, began to plot Jesus’s death.

Mary Magdalene [13] is a powerful character in the New Testament, the second most important woman after the Virgin Mary. In Luke viii: 2 she is healed of seven devils. She attends the Crucifixion and discovers the empty tomb in John xx: 1. Mary Magdalene sees the risen Jesus, and in verse 18, Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had spoken these things to her.

Jesus and the Money Changers [14] appears in all four Gospels. In John ii: 12–17, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem for the Passover. In the temple merchants are selling oxen, sheep and doves, and the exchangers of money are there also. With ‘a scourge of small cords’, Jesus drove them and the livestock from the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers with the famous words, Make not my father’s house an house of merchandise’.

The sayings of the The Sermon on the Mount [15] are in Matthew’s Gospel (chapters v–vii), and found elsewhere in the New Testament in different contexts. The Sermon begins in Matthew v: 1 with the words And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them… Jesus began with the Beatitudes and continues with setting out the main Christian principles. At the end, Matthew vii: 28, reads, And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine. For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

The Lord’s Prayer [16] is part of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew vi: 9–13. Jesus advises that prayer should be private without vain repetitions and without extravagant requests for your Father knoweth what thing ye have need of, before ye ask him.

[17] There are several instances in the Gospels where Jesus blesses children as an example of goodness. In Matthew xix: 13–15 the disciples are reluctant to allow children to meet Jesus but he replies, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto to me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew xviii: 3, Jesus placed a child among the disciples and commanded, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

In Matthew xxiii Jesus speaks to the multitude and to his disciples, attacking the scribes and Pharisees, the ruling elite of the Jewish religion. But Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites [18]. This phrase is repeated seven times from Matthew xxiii: 13 onwards accusing them of corruption of various kinds.

The parable of The Wise Virgins and the Foolish Virgins [19] tells of girls preparing for a wedding. They took lamps with them but five took no oil for the lamp while the wise carried extra supplies. When the bridegroom came at midnight the foolish virgins asked the wise to give them oil but were refused. While the foolish virgins went to buy some oil, the bridegroom arrived, the door closed, and the foolish not allowed to come back in. This was a salutary tale of being prepared for the kingdom of heaven which may come at any day or hour.

The parable of The Lost Sheep [20] comes in two of the canonical gospels, Matthew xviii; 12–14, and Luke xv: 3–7: If a man have an hundred sheep and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

The Return of The Prodigal Son [21] appears in Luke xv: 11–32. A father with two sons gives the younger son his share of the inheritance. The son takes the money, departs into a far country and there wasted his substance with riotous living. In time of famine the son is reduced to menial labour among the pigs and decides to return home. Arriving home the son is greeted with love by his father, and the fatted calf is killed for a feast. The older son resents this and his father tells him: be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Hosanna (The Entrance into Jerusalem) [22] is related in all four of the Gospels and precedes the dramatic event of the Last Supper. In Matthew xxi: 1–11, Mark xi: 1–11, Luke xix: 28–44 and John xii: 12–19, Jesus rides on a donkey from the Mount of Olives towards Jerusalem. The multitude spread garments on the ground in greeting and cut branches from trees to pave the way for a triumphant entry into the city.

The Last Supper, [23] the final Passover meal between Jesus and the disciples before the Crucifixion, is described in all four gospels, Matthew xxvi: 17–30, Mark xiv: 12–26, Luke xxii: 7–39, and John xiii: 1–17. The key words as in Matthew xxvi: 26 are: And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take eat this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Gethsemane [24] is the garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives where Jesus and his disciples spent the night before the crucifixion. The account of The Prayer in the Garden is found in Matthew xxvi: 36–50, Mark xiv: 32–52, Luke xxii: 39–65, and John xviii: 1–13. It was here that the betrayal by Judas took place.

[25] Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea AD 26–36, serving under Emperor Tiberius, is notorious as the judge in the trial of Jesus. In Luke xxiii Pilate proclaims he could find no fault in Jesus and was willing to release him. However, the chief priests and the people called out Crucify him, crucify him, and accepted the freedom of Barabbas, guilty of sedition and murder. In Matthew xxvii: 24, Pilate took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Golgotha [26], also known as Calvary and mentioned in all four gospels, is situated outside the walls of Jerusalem and is where Jesus was crucified. Matthew xxvii: 33: And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say a place of a skull, They gave him vinegar to drink mixed with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots.

The Last Words of Jesus (also known as the Seven Last Words from the Cross) [27] are from the four gospels. The Last Words, as traditionally put in order in Christian services at Easter, are as follows:

Luke xxiii: 34: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Luke xxiii: 43: Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

John xix: 26–27: Woman, behold thy son. Behold thy mother.

Matthew xxvii: 46 & Mark xv: 34 Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?

John xix: 28: I thirst.

John xix: 30: It is finished.

Luke xxii: 46: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.

An essential belief for Christians is that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his execution. Thus The Resurrection [28] is the central tenet of belief which distinguishes Christianity from all other religions.

Graham Wade

Close the window