The only existing material of Psalm 114 (116) (1852), scored for five-part chorus and trombones, has been a very unclear manuscript, sometimes incomplete in detail. It has here been very skilfully realized by Matthew Best. The ambiguity in the Psalm numbering is due to the fact that 114 is on Bruckner’s manuscript but the German words correspond to the first nine verses of Psalm 116 in the English Bible. These are preceded by an Alleluia. The music is at first of an impressive archaic austerity, bare in harmony, and strikingly simple in texture. E minor is the opening key, but G major ultimately dominates. The most impressive passages are the simplest, and when Bruckner launches into a fugue (‘I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living’) the effect is sometimes more than a little stiff, and the counterpoint is decidedly pre-Sechter! As a whole, however, this small work proves itself a necessary key to the understanding of Bruckner’s development, and finely performed (as it is here) can give considerable pleasure.
from notes by Robert Simpson © 1987