Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 14

Bogoróditse dyévo (O Mother of God)
a Russian carol, by Arvo Pärt
performed by the choral ensemble, Chantage

Bogoróditse dyévo, raduisya,
Blagodatnaya Mariye
Gospod s Toboyu.
Blagoslovenna Ty v zhenakh,
I blagosloven plod chreva Tvoyevo,
Yako Spasa rodila yesi dush nashikh.

Rejoice, O mother of God.
Virgin Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.

Arvo Pärt's Bogoróditse Djévo takes as its text a part of the Russian Orthodox liturgy. It was composed as a commission for King's College, Cambridge's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in 1992, and reflects the composer's own religious heritage.

This piece is an example of Pärt's signature tintinnabuli technique, which combines melodic voices moving between tonic chord tones, giving the effect of continuous tonic resonance. Pärt has compared this technique to "...the dichotomy of the spirit and the flesh, or of the heavenly and the earthly."

As you listen to the work, you can hear this concept emerge in the texture of the music, as well. The carol begins as a religious chant which is sung as a sustained chord, softly punctuated by the sounds of the words of the text. Then, the solemnity changes to a celebration, as the chords become more harmonious and "active", with jubilant melodic lines. By alternating back and forth between these two musical styles, the composer achieves contrasting expressions, both of which effectively express "divine joy".

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