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Perotin’s original, for four male voices, is based on a cantus firmus made up of pillar-like syllables which are widely spaced at first, but later succeed each other more rapidly until they become continuous. I retained these syllables (sung by tenors and basses, reinforced by tuned percussion and harp) placed in exactly the same bars as they appear in the Perotin. But I replaced Perotin’s upper voices with completely new, free-flowing music for sopranos and altos, who sing (in various solo and chorus combinations) a text known as the Alleluyatic Sequence, based on Psalm 148 (whose words I have also set elsewhere) which hymns the wonders of creation and the natural world. The texture, sparse at first, gradually builds into two richly polyphonic climaxes.
from notes by Judith Weir © 2015
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