Posts Tagged ‘ Choral Music ’

Feature: Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Gaude gloriosa

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July 3, 2013

Mary I Queen of England (Newburgh Prioryc)150x150 CaptionedThis is a monumental piece of work conceived on a grand scale in which Tallis brings to bear all his skill and all his experience to do honour to the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and at the same time to pay a compliment to Queen Mary I of England who was attempting to reunite the deeply Catholic world of her childhood with the partially reformed England she had inherited following the death of her brother Edward VI. In saying 'all his experience' I am placing myself on the side of those who consider this to be a relatively late work rather than a work of Tallis' youth. I have several reasons to believe that Gaude gloriosa or Gaude gloriosa Dei mater (Rejoice, glorious mother of God) to give it its full title is a relatively late work :

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Henry Purcell (1659-1695): In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust Z16

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June 14, 2013

Purcell Closterman Small Purcell's verse anthem In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust (Z16) dates from around 1682 – the middle of the period during which Purcell composed most of his anthems with string accompaniment. Its source is the British Museum's 'Royal' manuscript but it's probably based on an earlier and rougher autograph now held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It's an unusual anthem in that it's opening symphony is set on a ground bass, and that ground bass is in itself unusual in that Purcell recycled it for use in the song O solitude, my sweetest choice something he almost never did.

The Symphony opens the piece it's one complete section and sets a gentle slightly melancholy mood as it progresses you can hear the how the six-note rising scale that characterises the ground bass creates a musical texture leading into the first vocal section. This starts with the soloists echoing each other in declaring their trust in The Lord and begging him to deliver them in his righteousness. The next line 'Incline thine ear unto me and save me' leads into a brief instrumental ritornello which gives way in turn to the countertenor—tenor,  duet 'For thou, O Lord God'. Countertenor and tenor are joined by the bass soloist for 'Through thee have I been holden up ever since I was born … '   with some dropping chromaticism for 'thou art he that took me out of my mother’s womb'. Purcell closes this the second section of the anthem with a lyrical and flowing Symphony full of the the bittersweet harmonies that so define his music.

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Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876): Man That Is Born Of A Woman

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June 8, 2013

samuel sebastian wesley 180x195 captioned Wesley's output of church music was considerable, the quality can be a bit uneven but he composed enough masterpiecs that his style remained influential amongst the generation of musicians and composers who followed him. Even amongst his less happy compositions there's generally movement or two of very high quality that show what could have been were it not for Wesley's mercurial nature that on occasion descended into insanity. Amongst his undoubted masterpieces is 'Man that is born of a woman' which he composed in 1861 for the funeral of the Warden of Winchester College. It's a moving and dignified piece of music full of pathos and showing very clearly Henry Purcell's (1659-1695) influence upon the composer. Indeed so strong was Purcell's influence on this particular piece that Wesley suggested when it was published that Purcell's Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts be sung immediately afterwards. It's sung below by the Choir of Worcester Cathedral conducted by Donald Hunt. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Edwin Fissinger (1920-1990): Lux aeterna

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June 5, 2013

Edwin Fissinger (1920-1990) Recordings of Fissinger's music are now ludicrously exensive and very hard to come by even if you are prepared to pay US$99.99 for a second-hand CD (I'm not). So I was very glad to see his 'Lux aeterna' on the track list for Stephen Layton and Trinity College Choir Cambridge's recent CD of late twentieth century American A Capella music. Fisssinger's career as a conductor and composer spanned forty-five years and was by no means confined to choral works of which he wrote one hundred and eighty three. All of his published music is certainly well worth listening to whether it's one of his orchestral, piano, or vocal compositions there's a lively and very distinctive musical imagination at work that attracted the attention of his fellow members of the American Choral Director’s Association of which he was a founder member. Perhaps that's why if you hear his work at all these days you tend to it hear it being such by All-State Choirs at regional and national ACDA conventions.

He composed Lux aeterna in 1982 dedicating it to the memory of his wife and one of his composition students who had been killed in a car accident. In it Fissinger combines Gregorian motifs with clustered chordal harmonisations that remind me more than somewhat of Holst's Nunc dimittis. As Lux aeterna progresses from its bottom-upward beginning you can hear the soloists voices flying free of the clustered choral textures as the souls, freed from earthly bondage begin their ascent. It's sung below by The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge conducted by Stephen Layton. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Ola Gjeilo(b. 1978) : Ubi caritas – Schweizer JugendChor; Dominique Tille – YouTube

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June 1, 2013

Ola Gjeilo Captioned 150x183 I've written about Ola Gjeilo's setting of 'Ubi Caritas' before (see: Ola Gjeilo with the CWU Chamber Choir: Ubi Caritas (1st version) | Saturday Chorale ) in the few years since Gjeilo first published it it's become very popular with choirs and deservedly so it's got a beautiful melody that starts by evoking plain chant that evolves almost imperceptibly into a wider and more modern use of harmonics. Even better it's a very accessible piece that can, and has been, easily be mastered by a good secondary school choir. The Schweizer JugendChor (Swiss Youth Choir) performed it on May 18th 2013 during the first lap of the first round of the International Chamber Choir Competition Marktoberdorf 2013. You can hear them singing a somewhat shortened version of it below under the direction of their conductor Dominique Tille. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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