Sunday, April 24, 2005

O Magnum Mysterium

O Magnum Mysterium
by: Morten Lauridsen
Schola Cantorum of Texas

This piece is absolutely gorgeous. It starts with a chord and the altos come in on beat two. It seems that quite often in this piece there's a chord and one voice line that moves (it's usually the altos or tenors).

I'm familiar with this piece, and the things that stands out the most are the liberties that the conductor is taking with the choir and stretching rhythms. I really love it when he takes the second note in a three note pattern and stretches it, when my ear was thinking the third would be strechted.

Cut-off's and final consonants are really wonderful. All of their breaths are together, you can hear them breathing as a choir. There are times that I wish one note would really propel to the next to create more of a horizontal line versus a vertical one. They have a beautiful sound, and the piece lends itself so well to movement in phrasing...and sometimes they take advantage of this fact. I just wish they did in the really forte sections.

The alleluia section is beautiful! The alto's vowel in [a-lE-lu-j(uh)] (sorry, i couldn't find a schwa) anyway, all the sections are saying an open E in the word, and the altos are saying anywhere from [e] to [ai]. It only stands out because the sopranos follow them doing exactly the same open E as the basses and tenors. The change in vowels gives the alti a brighter timbre than the rest of the choir, sort of shaking things up in what I think should be a very calm section. The sopranos are very focused, but when they get down into their lower register the sound sound too dark for the group.

All in all, great piece, good choir, very expressive conductor.

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