Home Page
Back to this CD
CD Index

CD Notes

Florilegium Chamber Choir

Thea Musgrave: "Rorate Coeli for unaccompanied chorus was written in 1973 in response to a commission from the National Federation of Music Societies in Great Britain. It was first performed by the Thomas Tallis choir in Greenwich, London. The work is built on two poems of the famous Scottish poet William Dunbar (written circa 1500). One poem is the nativity poem of the title; the other is a poem about the Resurrection. The motet is framed by the rich chords of the opening line where the full chorus is echoed by soloists. This setting of both poems simultaneously, reminiscent of medieval poly-textual techniques, shows the future victory of the Resurrection along with the present joy of the Nativity. The chords of the opening return at the end combined with an exultant Gloria.

"The Four Madrigals are among my earliest works. They were written in 1953 while I was still a student in Paris, and were originally composed for the Saltire Singers who first performed them in St. Andrew's in Scotland in 1953. Since then many choruses (including the Kings singers) have added them to their repertoire, and they have been widely performed."

Judith Lang Zaimont: "Serenade: To Music celebrates music as the purest, most direct of the arts. In its course, various ways of writing for chorus succeed one another: homo-rhythmic, homophonic, contrapuntal, quasi-improvisatory segments--in metered (pulsed) and unmetered contexts--with alternating lush and spare textures. Serenade was written to be performed by six solo voices without a conductor; for Florilegium's performance, textures have been rethought, thinning to one or two on a part or using more voices as appropriate. The text, which deals with the creative process--the 'imaginary song' of the composer--has been slightly amended to shift the emphasis from the creator to the thing created: from the composer to the music itself."

Parable: "An uneasiness has always surrounded the narrative of Abram (Abraham) and Isaac--a god commanding his follower to kill his own son in order to prove love for that god. Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) framed his poem in the context of Europe during World War I. In Owen's poem, Abram kills Isaac. Like the rulers of Europe who sent their sons to die in battle, Abram spares the Ram of Pride and slays his son.

"Owen's poem ends cynically, first with the death of Isaac and then 'half the seed of Europe, one by one.' Here, though, two other texts are interwoven with the Owen, offering hope for a different ending: In an echo of the opening scene at the cantata's conclusion (using text taken from the medieval Brome mystery play), Abram is once again commanded to sacrifice Isaac. The listener is left to ponder the next choice.

"Musically, the work is dramatic, with considerable text-painting, and is motivically tightly knit. Musical materials throughout are derived from two sources: a rising and then falling half-step (part of the Angel's command 'Abram, wilt thou rest?'), and a lyrical progression associated with the boy Isaac. Contrasting with the highly forceful, narrative choral sections are lyric solos for Abram and Isaac in accompanied recitative style. Abram is given music that underlines the enormity of his quandary. His mood is mercurial, shifting between the desire to reassure his son and the knowledge that he must be the agent of his son's death. Isaac, initially uneasy, becomes fearful, but in the end encourages his distraught father to strike the blow. In Owen's poem, God is almost an incidental catalyst. It is with men, not God, that the source and the resolution of the tragedy of Abram and Isaac are found.

"Parable exists in two original versions: for voices and organ, and for voices, five strings and harpsichord. The work was commissioned by Florilegium through a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts."



Links to alphabetical list of composers
Bios and links to their recordings at this site

 A   B  C-E F-G H-I J-K  L   M  N-Q  R   S  T-V W-Z