Sunday, January 28, 2024

This Sunday’s Music for Meditation is a lovely setting of the famous German chorale “O Morning Star, How Clear and Bright” (“Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern”), by the Danish composer Niels Gade (1817-1890). A friend and colleague of the great German Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), Gade was a professional violinist and conductor as well as an accomplished organist. His setting of “Wie schön leuchtet” is serene and meditative, with lovely Romantic harmonies.

For the offertory, we will hear a setting of the well-known hymn tune “Slane” (most commonly sung with the equally well-known text “Be Thou My Vision”) by the contemporary Hungarian composer Zsolt Gardonyi (b. 1946). Gardonyi’s setting is notable for its incorporation of jazz-influenced harmonies.

The postlude this Sunday is the exuberant final movement of a Concerto in G major for strings by Prince Johann Ernst (1695-1715), transcribed for the organ by Ernst’s friend and colleague, Johann Sebastian Bach. The movement utilizes a perpetual motion texture of arpeggiated chords in the hands against longer note values in the pedals, and ends rather suddenly and unexpectedly with three consecutive fast descending scales in the hands, encompassing nearly the entire range of the keyboard.

– Charles

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