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Ere by the spheares time was created thou wast in his minde
Finnissy shares with Tallis a particular gift for melodic beauty, of great benefit to a contrapuntalist.
When studying Tallis, it is instructive to look at the number of voice parts. For example, at the start of the Gloria of his Missa Salve intemerata he begins with 2 parts, then 3, 4 and finally 5. At the start of Videte miraculum Finnissy likewise builds up from 2 to 6 voices. By the time the 6th part enters (the bass part at circa 0’50”) there is an almost overwhelming sensuousness to the sonority. In Tallis, the number of voices primarily affects the texture, whereas in Finnissy, the addition of voice parts has more harmonic impact because the latter composer is happy to have more pitch classes sounding at once. One more chocolate, and another, and another …! Again, the sheer beauty of sound reminds me of Feldman. It also brings to my mind Harrison Birtwistle’s Dinah and Nick’s Love Song, written at a time when the composer was much influenced by Feldman in Buffalo, NY.
At the start of Videte miraculum I think of light shining through a moving glass prism; lots of different faces glint kaleidoscopically with ever-changing colours in shifting directions. Sometimes you catch a glimpse of a particular pattern—but this is a fleeting vision which is soon gone; you wonder whether you had imagined it. By chance we recorded the motet on exactly the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and this opening music seems to float around as though in space without gravity. Different versions of ‘floating’ follow in such works as the cantata and Plebs angelica. Following this initial shimmery miraculousness, as one friend described it to me, at the first English-texted section there is suddenly a prophetically heavier, more earthly texture—Jesus is to be weighed down by bearing the sins of the world. The high texture of the opening contrasts with the low tessitura of the ending—God comes down to earth from heaven. The final bass solo unfolds melismatically with wonderfully evocative word-painting.
from notes by Andrew Nethsingha © 2020
|Finnissy: Pious Anthems & Voluntaries|
"This is extremely beautiful music—rich, deep, full of colours, emotions and allusions. The music requires time to marinade in the listener’s mind. I have gradually got to know the music, one piece at a time, over a four-year period—this has been ...» More