As devotion to the Mother of God lies at the heart of the Catholic faith it is not surprising that Dubra has set the Ave Maria
many times. Ave Maria III
in A flat major dates from 1994 and is dedicated to the Church of the Mother of Sorrows in Riga where Dubra had recently taken up the position of organist. Dubra was moved to write this setting after visiting a tiny church in the remote Latvian countryside. There, on entering, he encountered three elderly ladies reciting the Ave Maria
, each in her own manner but sounding strangely unified. This provided the inspiration behind the three-note chant for the opening of this piece to which is added a Gregorian-style intonation from the sopranos which is in turn mirrored by the tenors. There follows some polyphonic development of the theme for ‘Benedicta tu in mulieribus’ (‘Blessed are you among women’) which melts away over a solo tenor chant of ‘Jesus’. The final meditative section reaches an intense peak at ‘in hora mortis nostrae’ (‘at the hour of our death’). The final ‘Amen’ forms an unusual conclusion with a descending glissando for the whole choir—a kind of exhausted release after the emotion of this powerful prayer. Dubra likes to remind us that our religious path is not always an easy one.
from notes by Rupert Gough © 2009