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In the beginning

composer
1947
author of text
Genesis 1; 2:1-7

 
In the beginning is a substantial setting for mixed voices composed in 1947 for performance at the Harvard Symposium on Music Criticism. The university’s department of music had suggested a Hebrew text, but Copland opted ultimately for the version of the story as told in the King James Bible. It was first performed on 2 May 1947 by the by Collegiate Choir of Massachusetts, conducted by the composer.

Beautifully simple in outline and texture, its inoffensive modal flavour and lilting Britten-like polytonality sit easily with infectious jazz rhythms and soft hints of blues. Recitative and antiphonal writing dominates in a work the composer suggested be sung ‘in a gentle manner, like reading a familiar, oft-told story’. Before a performance in 1980 at Brown University, however, Copland told the student singers: ‘Creation was quite a stunt, so make it grand. Don’t be pathetic about it. What happened after creation is an entirely different story!’

from notes by Ken Walton 2000

Recordings

Bernstein: Chichester Psalms; Copland: In the beginning; Barber: Agnus Dei
CDA66219
Copland & Barber: In the beginning & other choral works
CKD117Download only

Details

Track 5 on CDA66219 [15'46]
Track 1 on CKD117 [16'23] Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDA66219 track 5

Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-87-21905
Duration
15'46
Recording date
20 May 1986
Recording venue
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
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