Posts Tagged ‘ Psalms ’

Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Great is the Lord Op 67

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August 18, 2015

imageElgar started 'Great is the Lord' in 1910 it's an adaptation of Psalm 47 and is fairly popular now but at the time he was composing it, perhaps because there was no patron to commission it in sight, it was doubtful that Elgar would even complete it. It took him two years working in fits and starts but on  July 16th 1912 it received its first performance with organ accompaniment at Westminster Abbey with  Sir Frederick Bridge conducting – the success of this outing led it being orchestrated in September 1913. Structurally it's not particularly complex, Elgar divided it up into sections each of which introduces new material, it opens with the the altos, tenors and basses in unison but changes thereafter to being in two parts with some passages in block harmony. There's a wonderful bass solo at 'We have thought on Thy loving-kindness, O God' the anthem ends with rich choral writing that reminds me more than somewhat of his oratorios. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Arvo Pärt (b1935): Cantate Domino canticum novum

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August 11, 2015

Arvo Pärt's setting of Psalm 95 in the Vulgate (96 in modern numbering) is set for four parts (SATB)  and organ, he wrote it in 1977 and revised it nineteen years later in 1996. Its melody is very simple and intended to evoke the same response as chant. It can be sung either by soloists or a mixed choir with the somewhat sparse organ part adding further colour to Pärt's harmonisations. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Arvo Pärt (b1935): De Profundis

2
June 5, 2015

Pärt's setting of Psalm 130 dates from 1980 and is dedicated to Gottfried von Einem. It's set for male voices and organ with bass drum.  It's the first piece of Pärt's music I ever heard and to me, it still epitomises much of his music which seems so spare and simple when you look at the score but which reveals its depths when you hear it performed. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Exsultate Deo

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May 16, 2015

This is one of my favourites amongst Palestrina's motets. It's a five-part setting (SAATB) of the first three verses of Psalm 81. It's  a bright celebratory piece of music full of word-painting to depict the musical instruments mentioned in the text. Whenever people try to tell me that Palestrina's music is dull, cold, and lifeless, this is one of the pieces of music I use to refute them. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Psalm 23 (Bay Psalm Book): American Boy Choir

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May 11, 2015

Bay Psalm 23
The Bay Psalm book is probably unknown to my readers on this side of the Atlantic, and, I suspect, to many in America, and so a little history before listening to the music is appropriate. In 1640 the Massachusetts Bay Colony published the Bay Psalm Book (it was printed by Stephen Daye in the house of the president of Harvard College) this was a remarkable event in American history in several ways. It was the first book to be published in the colonies which would make it an important event in its own right. Even more important however is that it was the first book to be entirely written in the colonies and thus represents an important parting of the ways between America and Britain.  "Thirty pious and learned Ministers" amongst them Richard Mather, John Eliot, Thomas Weld, and John Cotton translated the psalms contained in the metrical Psalter. The translations can seem a bit rough, a bit unpolished, and so far as I know none of them are in widespread use today (although many of the tunes to which the translations were sung have survived). In its time it was widely read and used and was used by the Puritan congregations of New England. They used it in preference to the Anglican psalter precisely because it was theirs it was written by their fellow Puritans for them it was an important statement of their independence and of their growing self-confidence. It went through about forty reprintings at first and in all has been reprinted more than a hundred times. The rendition of Psalm 23 which you can hear below the American Boychoir conducted by Fernando Malvar-Ruiz was given during the  during the 2014 American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Eastern Division Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. I've included the text below the video. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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