Monday, January 6, 2020

"You take the high road..."

From Alan Jacobs' newsletter this morning:
Does anyone arrange music for voices more beautifully than Ralph Vaughan Williams? If you doubt his mastery, take 90 seconds — 90 seconds, that’s all it takes — and listen to “O Taste and See,” the glorious motet RVW wrote to be sung at Holy Communion during the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey, 2 June 1953. Just that minute-and-a-half is a complete education in vocal arrangement.

RVW has an amazing knack for balancing three musical forces: the lead voice alone; the lead voice supported by a choir; the full power of the choir. Notice how beautifully he weaves together those forces in his utterly simple but also utterly perfect arrangement of “Loch Lomond.” It’s just a faux folk song, but one of the loveliest melodies in the world, and RVW knows better than to over-elaborate his arrangement. I especially admire the way he changes the pattern in the third verse: the first two had been solo-and-then-choir, the third is choir-and-then-solo. The lead tenor at the end does so much to emphasize the grief and longing of the song.

Is it a piece of Victorian sentimentality? Maybe. But Victorian sentimentality doesn’t always go astray. ....

Opinionlessness • Buttondown

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.