Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The spirit of something moving

I've been downloading a fair bit of music lately from iTunes. With downloaded classical music, one does miss the sleeve notes generally provided even in cheap discs, but there is quite a variety of music available, and probably more elsewhere that I haven't got round to looking at yet.

One of the tracks I've recently bought is Elgar's "The Spirit of the Lord", an anthem from his oratorio, The Apostles, which is often sung as a stand-alone piece. It's about six and a half minutes long, for four-part choir and organ, and is one of the most beautiful anthems ever written (in my humble opinion). The opening minute or so consists of an organ introduction, reduced from the original orchestral score, and it is this which sets the tone for the whole work. According to Professor Lionel Pike, this introduction shows the spirit of God moving across the face of the waters. I'm not enough of a musician to understand how Elgar achieves this effect, but it is profoundly moving, and makes me shiver no matter how many times I listen to it.

So, given that I don't believe in God, how is this possible? It's interesting that one can be moved by music that evokes something which the composer felt strongly enough to convey - Elgar does something similar in The Dream of Gerontius, with the shattering chord that is Gerontius' one awed glance at the majesty of God, and his anguished "Take me away," having been overcome by the sight. I suppose it's the power to create such feeling which makes music, for me, the most profound and important of the arts.

Click to listen to The Spirit of the Lord (hope this works!)


At Thu Jun 22, 07:57:00 am, Blogger Who is this Dave? said...

Thanks for the download.

At Fri Jul 21, 05:11:00 pm, Blogger Who is this Dave? said...

Not having posted anything for a month, your readership finally asks: are you all right?

At Thu Jul 27, 08:36:00 pm, Anonymous galatea said...

Being from Worcester, you'd think I knew this, but: are the Enigma variations really written to have the notes in the same shape as the Malvern hills?

At Tue Aug 01, 05:50:00 pm, Blogger Tamburlaine said...

Galatea - Not heard that one before. Sounds most unlikely!


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