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Laudate Dominum (2009)

 

SATB chorus unaccompanied. Premiered Sunday, January 24, 2010, 5:00 P.M. at King's Chapel, Boston; The King's Chapel Choir, Heinrich Christensen, conductor.

 

Many of Ramsay’s choral settings of psalms have had an inward-looking, pensive, or even somber quality. This Latin setting of Psalm 150, the last poem in the cycle of psalms, is perhaps an antidote to some of his slower-moving, darker choral works, using instead a playful, bright, and highly articulated palette.  The text itself is an ebullient celebration of the Lord, first through descriptions of his awe-inspiring magnificence, followed by calls for music of praise made using all the instruments at hand: trumpet, psaltery, harp, timbrel, strings, organ, cymbals, and the inevitable choirs of voices.  One of the more distinctive musical devices in the piece illustrates the two “cymbalis” through percussive staccato syncopations divided between the men’s and women’s voices.  The work is marked by frequent shifts of meter and abrupt key changes, with excited pianissimo whisperings of vocal lines followed in sharp contrast by fortissimo outbursts of exaltation.  This is the second setting Ramsay has done of this text; the first was composed in 2003 and includes three women's solo voices and organ accompaniment (see link for details of that work on "List of Works" page).