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July 1940; 4vv; dedicated to the Berkshire Music Center, Serge Koussevitsky, Director; first performed under G Wallace Woodworth at the opening of the Berkshire Music Center on 8 July 1940
author of text

Thompson’s Alleluia was written at the request of Serge Koussevitsky and premiered at the opening of the Berkshire Music Center on 8 July 1940, arriving in the conductor’s hands only forty-five minutes prior to the performance. The conductor, G Wallace Woodworth, was heard to say upon receiving the score, ‘At least we do not have to worry about the text!’. The lento marking underscores the thoughtful and more resolute quality of the work; this is not an overtly joyful alleluia but rather one more understated given the darker reality of World War II at the time, especially the recent fall of France to the Nazis.

One clearly hears in this score Thompson’s expert writing for voices, his fondness for and deft use of sequences, suspensions and counterpoint combined with his ability to control the overall pacing and structural scheme of the composition. The Alleluia is tightly constructed and moves very carefully and strategically—through the use of dynamics, articulation, expanded range, harmonic rhythm and accelerating tempo—to the very high point of intensity near the end of the work, before receding from its gorgeous wave of choral sound to return once again to its introspective beginning. The Alleluia has become a beloved and time-honored contribution to the choral repertoire.

from notes by Morten Lauridsen © 2008


American Polyphony
Studio Master: CDA67929Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
HYP41Super-budget price sampler
Thompson: The Peaceable Kingdom & other choral works
CDA67679Archive Service


Track 9 on CDA67679 [6'15] Archive Service
Track 4 on HYP41 [6'15] Super-budget price sampler
Track 1 on CDA67929 [6'12]

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