Wednesday, March 27, 2024

A New Setting of the Stabat Mater by Peter Kwasniewski

Just in time for Holy Week, Peter has posted to his YouTube channel a recording of his setting of the Stabat Mater, which was premiered by the ensemble His Majesty’s Men on Saturday, August 12, 2023 at St John Cantius Church, Chicago. Although the Stabat Mater hymn is not officially a part of the liturgy of Holy Week, it has long been customary to sing it as an offertory or communion motet; at St Peter’s basilica, for example, Palestrina’s version was sung at the principal Mass of Palm Sunday.

A note from Peter:

“In this work, I set ten of the verses (1–3, 5, 9–11, 16–17, and 20) for five-part men’s choir, interspersing them with the Gregorian chant for the remaining ten verses (4, 6–8, 12–15, and 18–19); the latter verses are sometimes sung plainly and sometimes with an ison and contrary organum. The purity and simplicity of the chant lines contrast well with the intricate texture and dense harmonies of the polyphony parts.

“This is, moreover, a very live recording — complete with car brakes, city buses, and honking horns, courtesy of the busy neighborhood of St John Cantius! John Cage, Edgard Varèse, and Henry Cowell would no doubt be pleased.”

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