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Four Motets

composer
1921
author of text

 
Like many other composers, Aaron Copland went to Paris for lessons with Nadia Boulanger. Remaining fruitfully in this ‘boulangerie’ for three years, Copland wrote his Four Motets as a student exercise for his teacher in 1921, but heard them for the first time in Fontainebleau only in 1924. When they were finally published several decades later, Copland commented that he had ‘agreed to their publication with mixed emotions. While they have a certain curiosity value—perhaps people want to know what I was doing as a student—the style is not yet really mine’. He identified Musorgsky as an influence, but composers of French choral music such as Fauré—about whom Copland wrote a critical study at that time—are surely in the background too.

Each of the motets, settings of adapted Old Testament texts, maintains a discrete personality—from the gently rocking serenity of Help us, O Lord to the rousing jubilation of Sing ye praises to our king. An overall technical assurance is enhanced by moments of arresting ingenuity—such as the imitative entries at the mid-point of Thou, O Jehovah, abideth forever—and the delicate, two-part ostinato that establishes itself in Have mercy on us, O my Lord.

from notes by Meurig Bowen 2015

Recordings

American Polyphony
CDA6792929 June 2015 Release
Copland: In the beginning; Barber: Agnus Dei
CKD117Download only
Bernstein: Chichester Psalms; Copland: In the beginning; Barber: Agnus Dei
CDA66219

Details

No 1: Help us, O Lord
Track 12 on CDA67929 [2'57] 29 June 2015 Release
Track 6 on CDA66219 [2'42]
Track 10 on CKD117 [2'27] Download only
No 2: Thou, O Jehovah, abideth forever
Track 13 on CDA67929 [2'23] 29 June 2015 Release
Track 11 on CKD117 [2'17] Download only
No 3: Have mercy on us, O my Lord
Track 14 on CDA67929 [4'09] 29 June 2015 Release
Track 7 on CDA66219 [3'44]
Track 12 on CKD117 [3'39] Download only
No 4: Sing ye praises to our king
Track 15 on CDA67929 [1'59] 29 June 2015 Release
Track 8 on CDA66219 [2'10]
Track 13 on CKD117 [2'14] Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDA66219 track 6

Help us, O Lord
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-87-21906
Duration
2'42
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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