Copious Notes @ Christmas
In this piece I wanted to evoke the candles and resonant cloisters of times long past. Lots of parallel harmonies, 4ths and 5ths, echoing the monks through the centuries.
I always heard the traditional melody with a syncopated lilt. It made sense to put it in 5/4. The Basses get a good chunk of the melody- why should the Sopranos always have the cream? Any references to Dave Brubeck are totally fictional – the backing chords are just how my fingers hit the keys.
As a boy, the only records played in the house at Christmas were Andy Williams and Nat King Cole Sing Christmas... need I say more?
As with Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ where you hear the crunching of hard snow underfoot, I wanted to transport the listener to a snow-laden forest with one’s breath icy cold...
Interestingly, the melody is Medieval French and many renditions take it too fast and hectic. I heard this in a more melancholic way, perhaps with a touch of Ravel or Debussy’s String Quartet slow movements in there somewhere. I wanted the final verse to be a powerful close-knit wall of sound, coming to rest as it began but with a hint of hope with the Alto G sharp in the final chord.
Not the usual melody everyone knows... again, a little more melancholic with lots of mmms and oooos for effect. Tenors get a bit of the melody and the Sopranos get to go for a top G. Everything comes to rest at the end.
Lovely lilt to this piece with German lyrics to verse 1. Experimented with the top 3 voices being angels up high and a slushy close harmony final verse. Fun harmonies for the Altos and Tenors in the last few lines – don’t rush the last 4 notes!
I should have called this ‘A Fantasia on the Theme of We Wish You,’ or ‘Michael Turns Sharp Left At Crossroads.’ This one’s a bit like the ingredients for a Christmas pud – many and varied elements but they all become part of the whole in the end. Warning – watch out for the Nigella cookery demo from bar 50... you’ll need someone with a dark sultry voice... MERRY CHRISTMAS!