ERIOUS MUSICIANS must realize what they can and cannot do. For example, studying piano at the conservatory, I already knew I could never play Franz Liszt’s Feux Follets. It has impossible passages that must be played at a breakneck tempo. Even Vladimir Horowitz said Feux Follets was the most difficult piece he ever played. (To get some idea of how grueling it is, listen to the YouTube recording by Evgeny Kissin.) I realize some students attempt pieces far beyond their abilities—e.g. teenagers “performing” Chopin’s 4th Ballade—but such actions defile great artistic works … at least according to my professors.
Three-Voice Music • As a student, if I heard a 3-voice motet by Kevin Allen, I would probably think: “I could compose a piece like that.” And I would have been dead wrong. Three voice music is much more difficult to compose than SATB music. Indeed, only a mature musician can appreciate the marvelous feat Mr. Allen has accomplished with these pieces. And choirs really love singing these pieces, with their sumptuous contemporary dissonances. If you have not purchased this new collection from Amazon, consider doing so immediately. It’s called “Matri Divinaæ Gratiæ”—and I could not function as a choirmaster without it.
“Si Ambulavero” • My choirs are currently learning “Si Ambulávero” by Kevin Allen. I recorded all the voice parts myself, to give them an idea how it sounds. Listen to the rich texture Mr. Allen achieves with only three voices:
REHEARSAL VIDEOS for each individual voice and the (free) PDF score await you at this website, towards the bottom.
A Tragedy: Most readers won’t click on the individual voice parts, and that makes me sad. When we post a “scandalous” liturgical video, we get 40,000 views. I wish we could get as many views for the rehearsal videos.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
* I call this collection “new” because it’s new to me. I technically knew about it for half a decade, but until we actually began singing these pieces, I never realized they are such absolute masterpieces.