Last year's final post was dedicated to Morten Lauridsen's moving "O Magnum Mysterium". I still believe this is one of the most moving and beautiful things I've ever heard. It's humbling that there are still composers who are able to write such glorious music.
So, I thought it might be a good idea to say goodbye to 2012 with this same motet, but this time set to music by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), one of the leading French composers of the 20th century.
This motet is part of Poulenc's Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël, composed in 1952. It is a magnificent setting. The beginning is quite dark, with unusual harmonies sung by the basses and tenors. But then, in the middle of this darkness the soprano voices emerge like a ray of heavenly light, with a hauntingly beautiful descending melodic line. And then in "Beata Virgo" (1:42), see how the melody and harmony shift in such an unpredictable and ingenious way, bringing freshness to the piece. The music is predominantly minor, both in scale and in mood, except for the final chord which is a reassuring and uplifting major...
The words, here below:
O Magnum Mysterium
et admirabile sacramentum
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum
Beata Virgo cujus viscera
jacentem in praesepio!
My very best wishes for 2013, to all friends of this blog.