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Hyperion Records

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The Roof of Milan Cathedral (c1830) by Carl Beckmann (1799-1859)
Track(s) taken from CDH55346
Recording details: October 1989
St Alban's Church, Holborn, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: February 1991
Total duration: 10 minutes 57 seconds

'A must for any serious collector' (Organists' Review)

'Ideal for the more adventurous listener who enjoys a ramble down the lesser-known by-ways of the musical repertoire' (The Music Magazine)

Two Motets, Op 74
composer
No 1: 1877, Pörtschach, first performed in Vienna on 8 December 1878; No 2: 1863/4; published in 1878 and dedicated to Philipp Spitta

Other recordings available for download
Westminster Cathedral Choir, Martin Baker (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Two Motets Op 74 were published in 1878 with a dedication to the great Bach scholar, Philipp Spitta. This is no doubt an acknowledgement of the fact that the great German master’s influence is at its most potent in these particular pieces.

‘Warum ist das Licht gegeben?’ was composed during the idyllic summer of 1877 at Pörtschach, at a time when the composer was putting the finishing touches to his Second Symphony. The first performance was given in Vienna on 8 December 1878. After a severe and imposing four-part opening section in D minor (‘Slowly and with expression’), there follows a canonic setting of ‘Lasset uns’ in six parts (divided sopranos and basses), its warm, F major glow perfectly reflecting the underlying message of the words. The following section (‘Siehe, wir’) is in two halves, the second beginning at the words ‘Die Geduld Hiob’, which developes into a repeat of the music for ‘Lasset uns’. The motet is concluded by a four-part chorale setting to the words ‘Mit Fried und Freud’.

‘O Heiland, reiss die Himmel auf’, in four parts, was composed rather earlier, between 1863 and 1864, the format and mode of expression relating it to the first of the Op 29 motets with which it is roughly contemporary. It is in strict chorale variation form, the five sections being clearly marked by Brahms as ‘Versus I’ etc. in the score. After the opening chorale setting, ‘O Gott ein Tau’ (Versus II) places the chorale melody in the soprano line whilst the supporting parts sing a three-part canon based on a rhythmically diminished version of the same theme. ‘O Erd schlag aus’ introduces a rhythmic variant in the form of a triplet, whilst ‘Versus IV’ (‘Hie leiden wir’—Adagio) is a canon by inversion, whereby the overlapping part has the same melody, but with all the intervals turned upside down. ‘Da wollen’ continues this trend with a double canon (i.e. two canons sounded simultaneously) in inversion, the altos/tenors and sopranos/basses being paired. The final ‘Amen’ demonstrates the ‘stretto’ effect, whereby the various overlapping entries appear ever closer to one another, creating a superb final peroration.

from notes by Julian Haylock © 1991


Other albums featuring this work
'Brahms & Rheinberger: Mass' (CDA67559)
Brahms & Rheinberger: Mass

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