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Organists' Review: February 2009

AVE MARIA
FM001

AVE MARIA, New SSA/SSAA arrangements by Gwyn Arch

Composer: CACCINI G

Voice: SSA + PIANO

Arranger: ARCH GWYN

Listen:

£1.60

RECORDING: Performed by Ellenvale Singers, Conducted by Dave Richards

Email: daveandliz2@sky.com

This version of Ave Maria emerged from obscurity in the 1990s and achieved almost instant popularity. It was recorded by Lesley Garrett, Charlotte Church, Andrea Bocelli, Hayley Westenra, etc., and even appeared as a cello solo played by Julian Lloyd-Webber. It was invariably attributed to Caccini (1551-1618). He was a member of the Florentine group of musicians who met to discuss science, drama and music, and who tried to reconstruct the ‘original' ancient Greek drama, which led to the development of Opera.

However, it is now known that this Ave Maria was actually composed by a Russian guitarist, lutenist and composer called Vladimir Vavilov (1925-73). He routinely ascribed his own works to other composers, usually from the Baroque or Renaissance period, and usually with total disregard of an appropriate style. Around 1970 he recorded Ave Maria on the ‘Melodiya' label - the state-owned major record company of the Soviet Union. The composer described himself as "Anonymous". Nevertheless, this aria of two words was enormously successful in Russia and subsequently worldwide. Hoax it may be, but that doesn't diminish its musical worth.

Curiously, nobody seemed to notice that this ‘16th century' work uses a well-known 20th century chord sequence. Bars 2 - 8 employs exactly the same chords used by Jerome Kern at the beginning of All the things you are which was written in 1939. Vavilov possibly knew it?!

 


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