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Ascending into heaven

First line:
Sion me receptet illa
composer
author of text

 
Judith Weir wrote this, her first piece of choral music (or, as a BBC Prom note writer put it, her ‘test flight’), in response to a commission from the St Albans International Organ Festival, which gained in the shape of Ascending into heaven a highly original work that expresses brilliantly the idea of bodily lift-off. As with Illuminare, Jerusalem, which she wrote for Stephen Cleobury two years later, Weir found inspiration in an ancient text, this time a Latin hymn by the French theologian Hildebert of Lavardin (1056-1133), who was first a reluctant Bishop of Le Mans in North West France and, later, an unwilling Archbishop of Tours. (He also travelled unwillingly to England in 1108, a prisoner of William II following the capture of Le Mans.)

The Archbishop’s poem, with its repetitions and rhyming lines, each of four trochaic feet (pairs of long-short syllables), typical of medieval hymns, suited a composer aiming for simplicity with a twist. Appropriately for a work produced for the St Albans festival, Weir employs a virtuosic organ accompaniment, which clearly recalls Messiaen in its use of an octatonic scale, in what the French composer called his ‘second mode of limited transposition’. Weir notes that ‘as an illustration of the title the music (especially the organ part) ascends frequently’.

from notes by Emma Cleobury © 2019

Recordings

Evensong Live 2019
Studio Master: KGS0038-DDownload onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Details

Track 6 on KGS0038-D [8'02] Download only

Track-specific metadata for KGS0038-D track 6

Artists
ISRC
GB-MY5-19-03806
Duration
8'02
Recording date
13 May 2018
Recording venue
King's College Chapel, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Benjamin Sheen
Recording engineer
Benjamin Sheen
Hyperion usage
  1. Evensong Live 2019 (KGS0038-D)
    Disc 1 Track 6
    Release date: September 2019
    Download only
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