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Like as the hart desireth the waterbrooks

author of text
Psalm 42: 1-2

Nico Muhly writes that his setting of Like as the hart, for choir, solo violin, and percussion, ‘is my response to Herbert Howells’s more famous setting of this Psalm paraphrase. I have always been obsessed with the length of Howells’s melodies and the way that the harmonies trail behind the tunes like halos. In my version, I invert this relationship, with massive elongated harmonies dragging melodic fragments behind them. I arranged the harmonies in a large arch form with shrinking and expanding rhythms on either side of the central point (on the word “God”).’ Muhly sets just the first two verses of the Psalm, marking the division in the first verse by the appearance of a solo soprano at ‘so longeth my soul’. Although the choir emerges dramatically at the central point (‘God’), for much of the piece the foreground character is a solo violinist, accompanied by percussion (triangle and tam-tam at the opening): the effect suggests improvisation on a melodic fragment until the choir enters voice by voice, its slowly evolving harmonies counterpointed with the rhythmic impetus of the instruments.

from notes by Owen Rees © 2018


Howells: The house of the mind & other choral works
Studio Master: SIGCD491Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 9 on SIGCD491 [5'37] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD491 track 9

Recording date
11 January 2017
Recording venue
Church of St Michael and All Angels, Oxford, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
David Hinitt
Hyperion usage
  1. Howells: The house of the mind & other choral works (SIGCD491)
    Disc 1 Track 9
    Release date: June 2018
    Download only
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