Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Handel “Dixit Dominus”

An 8-movement setting of Ps. 110 from Handel’s early period, when he was learning to write Italian opera:


I have had the joy of singing this once. It’s a beast - he definitely wasn’t being kind to his singers. Just hunting down all the notes is an accomplishment. The orchestra for our performance, as I recall, commented that they were “used to doing this piece with choirs that couldn’t really sing it!”

This recording takes the first and last movements at pretty breakneck tempi. I want whatever those sopranos ate for breakfast to fire off those melismas at the start of the 8th movement. :)

Anyway, it’s a great piece. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pärt’s magnificent Beatitudes setting

I’m not sure how this is legal, but here is a very good recording of Arvo Pärt’s setting of the Beatitudes:


I will never understand why someone decided that the gospel reading for All Saints (in the pre-V2 Missal, mind you!) should *not* include the part of the Beatitudes that talks about “prophets”. Duh...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Easter 2, 3, and 4

Easter 2--Year A

Processional: As Newborn Infants Long for Milk (ST. ANNE) (Tietze Introit hymn

Sprinkling Rite: Springs of Water (By Flowing Waters)

Sequence: Victimae (chant)

Gospel Acclamation: O FILII ET FILIAE w/choral verse

Offertory: The Strife is O'er (composer escapes me at this point . . . arrangement from New Oxford Church Book)

Communion: Mitte manum w/Viadana fauxbourdon

Recessional: Jesus Christ is Ris'n Today

Between the Introit hymn harmonization (we sing the Doxology acappella each week), the Sequence, the GA verse, the Offertory anthem, and the Communio, we had five choral-only items to get ready in only one rehearsal (they just returned from spring break). It was a bit of a stretch so I deliberately scaled things back the next week.

Mass itself was wonderful. We didn't get to go all out for Easter 1 since the choir was mostly gone, so I hired a trumpet for this week and took things up a notch. We had most of the choir present and the choral sound was better than the average Sunday.

Easter 3--Year A

Processional: Tietze Introit Hymn (LASST UNS ERFREUN)

Offertory: Lauda Anima (arr. Praying Twice)

Communion: Surrexit (chant) w/Viadan fauxbourdon

Recessional: Draw us in the Spirit's Tether

Last year, I posted this (see item number three), relaying an experience I had at last year's Colloquium. The Lauda Anima of this week is a piece I composed as a result of that particular situation and the thought-process that followed. Basically, I took the chant from the Graduale and set it polyphonically with the chant line rhythmically unaltered. It is without meter, and therefore, the hardest part was nailing entrances from the choir (and the fact that I didn't know how to conduct it!). I want to revise it further, but it turned out fairly well, actually.

Easter 4--Year A

Processional: (Hmm. Can't remember . . . I must be getting old. : )

Offertory: This Joyful Eastertide (arr. William Harris)

Communion: Ego sum pastor w/Viadana fauxbourdon

Recessional: Christ the Lord is Ris'n Today

The Harris setting is very nice. Good part-writing, nice variety of textures and moods, thrilling organ accompaniment . . . well worth the time to prepare it. This weekend and last, we had all but one of our active members present. It's a pipe dream of mine to have my whole choir together some time for Mass . . . I don't think it's happened in my two years here! Anyways, they sounded wonderful both weeks; it sure does help to have a healthy balance between the sections . . .