The Ave Maria d’Aosta
came about when Mäntyjärvi was teaching a course in choral composition at Aosta, in the northwestern corner of Italy. Students were asked to write pieces for the choir-in-residence, The Torino [Turin] Vocal Ensemble, to perform at the final concert. Mäntyjärvi’s Ave Maria
emerged, he has said, as ‘a demonstration of a particular type of choral texture, with tonally oriented harmonies scored mainly in the low and middle ranges in eight parts and with plenty of octave doubling. As such, the texture bears more than a passing resemblance to the sounds of the Orthodox liturgy, in an ecumenical nod, as it were.’ The cool opulence of this brief setting arises from extensive division of all parts, with the basses required to plumb extreme depths, especially at the end. Just as academic forms of harmonic preparation, suspension and resolution are sometimes used, so too are incidental dissonances which enhance the triadic language without obfuscating it.
from notes by Francis Pott © 2020