The two Versetti
were originally composed as organ interludes for my Missa cum populo
for chorus, organ, wind instruments and congregation. They are, however, suitable for separate recital performance, although I conceived them as liturgical music to be played at those junctures in the Mass at which organ interludes can be inserted – thus particularly during the Offertory and the Communion. This is why the first movement makes use of the Gregorian Palm Sunday antiphon ‘Pueri habraeorum’ (English Hymnal
617) whose text contains the Hosanna and Benedictus and hence establishes a link with the following Sanctus. The prevailing mood of the five variations is that of a joyful procession, hence the sharply dotted rhythm of the ‘ben ritmico’ and the dance-like character of the ‘scherzando’ and ‘con gioia’.
The second movement is based on the Gregorian hymn ‘Adoro te devote’ (English Hymnal 331). In terms both of its content and of its liturgical character it is meditational, while the use of registration and dynamics is sparing. In the concert hall, however, both pieces may be played with a rather wider range of colour, and their performance in the reverse order would be preferable.
from notes by Petr Eben © 2002
English: Julia Rushworth and Atlas Translations