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Martin Bruces De Profundis was written for the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, at the invitation of organist Stephen Darlington. It received its first performance in the Lent of 2008. Scored for two four-part choirs, it opens with a motif built on a rising tone, which grows steadily more insistent.
Initially passed between the two alto parts naturally an effective technique for a cathedral choir, where the two choruses are physically separated on either side of the nave this ascending idea develops and opens out into a full, eight-part rendering: Lord, hear my voice. There is a wide variety of textures employed here, and each section of text has its own distinct character; we move from the antiphonal effects of therefore shalt thou be feared to the fugal style of I look for the Lord, coming to a close only when the opening ascending tone motif returns, this time passed between the two soprano parts.
This setting of a text which is at once penitential yet full of hope seems to move through a gamut of moods before reaching its conclusion, and in the ambitious choral writing we have an apposite gateway into the works which succeed it here. The Magnificat is Marys song of joy at the revelation that she will bear the Son of God, and as a canticle it is one of the churchs fundamental liturgical texts.
The piece is opened in a traditional manner by a cantor, after which the listener is immediately thrown into a deft and lively setting, spiced by sharpened fourths which lend a brightening effect. The intention here is to illustrate Marys original circumstances as recounted in Lukes gospel; the turmoil of a young girl faced with extraordinary news.
Thus we hear the two florid soprano parts twisting and intertwining, and hocket-like writing in which the second sopranos seem to shadow the firsts on offbeats. An alto cantus firmus provides a stable anchor in a texture which is both elaborate and busy. There is a dialogue between different languages and metres here; alto and bass parts proceed in Latin and duple time whilst sopranos and tenors forge onwards in English and in compound time. The piece develops with increasing complexity until it sets up a cascade of quavers during the Gloria, in what the composer understands as Marys ecstatic realisation of the immense privilege given to her to bear the Son of God.
Clive Driskill-Smith Born in 1978, Clive Driskill-Smith was a Music Scholar at Eton College and then Organ Scholar at Winchester Cathedral and Assistant Organist at Winchester College for a year. He graduated from Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Organ Scholar, with a First Class Honours degree in Music in 1999 and with the MPhil in 2001.
A pupil of David Sanger and Hans Fagius, Clive became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists with the Limpus, Shinn and Durrant prizes in 1998 and was awarded the W. T. Best Scholarship by the Worshipful Company of Musicians in 2002. Winner of the Royal College of Organists Performer of the Year Competition and the Calgary International Organ Competition, he is represented in North America by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists and is currently Sub-Organist at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.
Martin Bruce The landscape of Martin Bruces musical life was formed early by choristerships at All Saints, Margaret Street in London (where he learned and learned to love plainsong and the Viennese mass setting tradition) and, when that Choir School closed, at Winchester Cathedral (here he met Anglican Chant and the work of the great English evening canticle setters).
It was at Winchester that he started composing, sending an early piece to Benjamin Britten and receiving in return a charming letter of encouragement. At Durham University, where he was a choral scholar, he studied harmony and counterpoint with Richard Lloyd and has been writing music ever since, the bulk of his output being choral, liturgical works, but other pieces include three musicals Arcana, Dreamticket and Gawain and a quantity of solo song and instrumental works.
He lives and works at Oxford and is currently the Headmaster of Christ Church Cathedral School. Voces Urbanae (voices of the town or city) is a young choir drawing on professional singers from both London and Oxford and its aim is to concentrate on recording new and contemporary choral works. Of a number of future projects, another cd of Martin Bruces works is planned.
|3||02:41||Quiet Mary’s Gentle Joy|
|4||03:44||Ave Verum Corpus|
|6||11:18||Ten Variants on Le Tourdion|
|7||02:05||O Salutaris Hostia|
|9||03:19||Let the Beauty of the Lord our God|
|13||03:51||The World’s Desire|