Lotti, Muhly and Holy Saturday

After reading his article on Peter Grimes here in Opera News, I suddenly can’t get enough of Nico Muhly. His website has some great writing on music, and I’m completely drawn into his album Speaks Volumes.

And just when this young professional musician of my dreams couldn’t get any better, he goes and impresses me even more by writing about one of my favorite choral works of all time: Lotti’s Crucifixus.

Nico Muhly » Dum transisset Sabbatum

Happy Holy Saturday. I am listening to as much Holy Saturday appropriate music as possible, including the insanely beautiful Lotti Crucifixus à 8, which is how I learned what a suspension was. This is the most insane piece of music and one of the most influential on my own output both sacred and secular. The choir begins by building up from the bass to the treble, each new voice introducing a new dissonance against the previous. After a calming resolution, the next episode is a sequence of constantly running eighth notes, a sequence of pulses, a reinforced muttering. The ascending suspensions of the first minute of the music return, upside-down, with mounting intensity. On the words, “passus et sepultus est” (he suffered and was buried), the highest voice – the climactic moment – resolves itself to a drone, a D suspended above the harmonic wiggling in the rest of the choir for three and a half bars. Singing this was one of the highlights of the liturgical year for me.

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~ by ohactually on March 23, 2008.

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