The Last Invocation was composed in 1922 during Thompson’s student days, prior to his sojourn to the American Academy in Rome. Based on a text by Walt Whitman, the six-part a cappella setting displays many of the stylistic features that would continue throughout Thompson’s work over his entire career—predominantly tertial harmonies, imitative counterpoint, a fondness for suspensions and suspension chains, conjunct vocal lines and careful text underlay. The quiet, contemplative setting builds to a majestic, fortissimo climax for Whitman’s line ‘Strong is your hold, O mortal flesh!’ before closing pianissimo at ‘Strong is your hold, O love’. Renaissance modal counterpoint and Baroque polyphony clearly serve as models even at this very early stage in Thompson’s development as a composer.
from notes by Morten Lauridsen © 2008