In 1941, midway between the Lenten motets and Figure humaine
, Poulenc composed Exultate Deo
. It responds suitably to its jubilant text, and features a rare case for Poulenc of paired, imitative entries at the outset. Those studies of Bach chorales with Koechlin set him along a predominantly chordal, homophonic path when writing for voices, but here his knowledge of music by Monteverdi, Palestrina and Gabrieli briefly shines through. This piece breezes through some unlikely keys in the middle—from its core A major, through F sharp major to C major to C sharp major. It is fluent, cheeky, listen-to-what-I-can-do writing. The motet’s climax, on the words ‘Buccinate in neomenia tuba’, features a remarkable effect with rumbling lower voices in parallel triads, and a final shriek of marcato dissonance whose echo collides with the grand, solemn coda.
from notes by Meurig Bowen © 2008