Två Psalmer (Two Psalms) (2009)
Spira Ensemble, cond. Kari Turunen
I. Du kröner året (You crown the year)
(text: Psalm 65 – in Swedish)
II. Sion, prisa din Gud (Zion, praise thy God)
(text: Psalm 147 – in Swedish)
This pair of psalm-based settings was a commission from the Finnish union of church musicians, for Swedish-language pieces specifically intended for liturgical use. Du kröner året (You crown the year), to be sung on the feasts of Michaelmas and Thanksgiving. Wanting to honor the spirit of the occasion without detracting from the prayer services themselves, I turned to the simple responsory style remembered from the Catholic services of my youth. Baritone and soprano soloists intone recitatives, which are answered by the main choir. The music is modal – completely diatonic, in fact – warm and restrained in expression, reflecting the psalm text’s mood of fulfilled plenty. Sion, prisa din Gud (Zion, praise thy God) was written for the spring feast of Annunciation. The music is an attempt to reflect the psalm text’s ambivalence, divided as it is between a call to give praise and thanks and a terse warning to remain humble and contrite. The piece thus moves from warm clouds of sound and gentle murmurings to a starker, chant-like texture, ending in a mood of unambiguous rejoicing as befit the occasion.
Published by Fennica Gerhman.