Ēriks Ešenvalds (b1977): Amazing grace

Eriks EšenvaldsLet’s start the week with Ēriks Ešenvalds’ arrangement of Amazing Grace he wrote it in 2004 for the Latvian youth choir Kamēr. The idea behind Ešenvalds arrangement is both simple and daring he treats it as a set of variations within a chorale taking the tune and varying it each time it’s heard. We first hear it sung by a solo soprano but as the chorale-variation set unfolds the melody embeds itself in an eight-part text of considerable density and richness in which instead of employing ascending semitonal key-shifts to increase the musical intensity Ešenvalds goes the opposite direction employing descending modulations to great effect. The intensity and the feeling of ecstasy gradually increase until we reach the setting’s end. Enjoy :-).


Ēriks Ešenvalds (b1977): Amazing grace

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

John Newton (1725-1807)

Trinity College Choir Cambridge conducted by Stephen Layton (conductor)
Anna Cavaliero (soprano)

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