The Voices of Our Ancestors

tvooa_cover smallThis CD contains three works by Thea Musgrave. Two are fairly recent but the first, and to my mind the most interesting, dates back to 1973. It’s called Rorate coeli desuper!  It’s a setting of text by the 16th century Scots poet William Dunbar interspersed with short Latin sections.  The text is given, as sung, in Middle Scots and Latin but no translation.  It’s a wonderfully varied and eclectic piece scored for five soloists and SATB choir.  It is, I suppose, a sort of modern polyphony with lots of extended vocal techniques including droning, chattering, hissing and a very high soprano duet that imitates bird song.  The text is wonderfully evocative.  Here’s one verse as an example:

Done is a battle on the dragon black,
Our campion Christ confoundit has his force; The gates of hell are broken with a crack, The sign triumphal raisit is of the Cross,
The devils trymmillis with hiddous voce,
The souls are borrowit and to the bliss can go, Christ with his blood our ransom does endorse: Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

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