Saturday, January 29, 2005

O Magnum Mysterium

In more cheery news, listen to some fabulous music. Morten Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium is something I first encountered at a reunion concert as an arrangement for wind ensemble. I discovered a great recording of the original choral version in the school library. Conducted by the great Robert Shaw, his Festival Singers and Chamber Singers perform several Magnum Mysteriae by Lauridsen, Tomas Luis de Victoria, and Francis Poulenc. They also have a great performance of Totus Tuus by Gorecki. But the Lauridsen is something that just washes over me, melting away all tensions and leaving a great sense of peace and love. It is not saccharine, with plenty of well-placed dissonances. I don't know the theology behind this type of chant, and I don't think it matters. The vocal and instrumental versions affect me equally, so it isn't the words that are meaningful. It is the gorgeous melodic lines, changing from simple steps to gentle leaps; it is the phrases that keep getting extended into infinity; it is the music, the music, the music.

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