Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876): Blest is the man
Performance: The Tallis Scholars - Peter Phillips
Concert recording: Parmando 24Culture
2. Blessed is the man unto whom
the Lord imputeth no sin,
and in whose spirit is no guile.
2. Gelukkig de mens,
als de Levende hem een zonde niet aanrekent,
omdat bedrog hem vreemd is.
The Netherlands Chamber Choir (Nederlands Kamerkoor) will be streaming 150 Psalms, set to music by 150 composers, over the course of 150 days. The Psalms’ themes, based on texts from thousands of years ago, are nowadays as relevant as they were when they were written. The Psalms sing about hope and sorrow, about leaders in trying times and about powerlessness and the joy of life. The Psalms form a mirror of our society. The Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Tallis Scholars, the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street are sharing these performances with the world, hoping it will fill the silence, and bring a moment of hope in the world. We are immensely looking forward to meeting our audiences again in real life. The performances were recorded by Parmando 24Culture.
Gerard Swüste: ‘In the songs of praise man voices his realization of just how much he
has received. Life, a new opportunity in life, the feeling that things are going well, that
success is assured. You could say that the psalms of thanks result from the feeling that
not everything is man-made, that though we as people are capable of a lot, we are also
given a lot.’ Haydn sets the tone immediately in Psalm 41: simplicity and clarity, after
the 18th-century English model. Gibbons follows another tradition. He set Psalm 30 as
a verse anthem, with a splendid polyphonic vocal exchange between soloists and choir,
supported by an organ. Frenchman Jean Mouton, Flemings Pierre de la Rue and Philippe
de Monte, Italian Claudio Merulo and Spaniards Francisco Guerrero and Tomás de Victoria
likewise follow the rich examples of Franco-Flemish polyphony, with sophisticated
vocal imitations in all parts. Danish composer and instrument maker Mogens Pedersøn,
who learned his trade from Giovanni Gabrieli in Venice, chose to set Psalm 103 in a
somewhat tauter homophonic manner, whereby the Danish text, entirely in accordance
with the lutheran tradition, would sound as clear as possible, almost like a chorale.
Salamone Rossi’s beautiful Psalm 118 and Franz Schubert’s Hebrew Psalm 92 form a special pair. Around 1600 in Mantua Rossi was the only composer who served the ducal family whilst also having permission to practise his Jewish faith publicly and in his music. Schubert composed his psalm for the Viennese reformist cantor Salomon Sulzer. This concert also includes a premi.re by the successful young American composer Nico Muhly.<.br>
Musicological concept and programme note: Leo Samama (2017)
Note: this programme note was taken from the programme booklet for the original project in 2017. The performance order of the Psalms was different to the way we will be streaming the Psalms online. Nonetheless these notes may provide you with additional background information on the musicological concept and the Psalm themes.
150 Psalms was initiated by the Netherlands Chamber Choir and its artistic and general manager Tido Visser in 2017. During the Early Music Festival in Utrecht (NL), the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Tallis Scholars, the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street performed a ‘monumental ode to 1,000 years choral music’. In 12 concerts spread over 2 days, they performed musical settings of all 150 Psalms by 150 different composers. The Psalms, arranged into 12 different themes by theologian Gerard Swüste, are a combination of both older and newer compositions. This marathon-concert tour premiered during the Early Music Festival Utrecht (NL) in 2017, followed by performances in New York (2017), Brussels (2018) and Adelaide (2020).