Online Journal


Bar What happens Comment
1-3 Alleluia (recurs at bars 102 and 205)
Cadence into c minor
Note how the voice parts slide around chromatically, and how Stravinsky prepares for their entry with orchestral c minor and F major chords.
6 C major ostinato in bass, but c minor (or E-flat major) in treble tune. Shock E-natural in bass part (bar 6 beat 4). The contrast and combination of the keys C and E-flat is important in this piece.
10 in sanctis Ejus
Slow, minim movement
E-flat in voice part clashes with E-natural in bass.
12-22 Laudate Eum in firmamento virtutis Ejus.
Bass ostinato on C and G in groups of 3 on lower strings, pianos and harp, doubled by flutes.
Horns fill out texture (bars 14-19).
Continued restraint:
Movement is slow
The 'offensive' bass E-natural is not repeated in bar 20.
23-24 Laudate DOMINUM.
Quiet C major chord, almost tutti.
Flattened 7th (B-flat), played quietly by 2nd cellos.
24-89 Laudate eum in virtutibus ejus. Laudate DOMINUM in virtutibus Ejus, laudate DOMINUM in sanctis Ejus. Notice how often the choir parts move around the page, as a kaleidoscopic range of mainly woodwind, brass and percussion instruments is employed.
24-52 Orchestral section/introduction to choir
Speed almost doubles
24-27 Laudate DOMINUM rhythm (see bar 65) and double bass ostinato presented Material presented....
27-30 Repeat of 24-27 (with more activity: horns play Laudate DOMINUM rhythm) ... repeated, and combined....
29-31 New countermelody on harp and trumpet ... so we are ready for yet more new material...
31 Sforzando chord ... full stop.
32-38 More of the same, but Stravinsky fragments the harp and trumpet call, and there are interjections from the pianos and woodwind. E.T. Cone calls this sort of compositional technique 'Stratification, Interlock and Synthesis'.
36-40 Crescendo to Laudate DOMINUM rhythm, in E major chords, on horns.  
40-52 Piano and woodwind triplet arpeggios Whirlwind effect, of growing intensity...
48-50 Tutti, loud chords ... clinched by loud chords...
50-52 Oboes, trombones and piano only ... and now winds down. The sopranos are specifically marked cant., non f (i.e. smoothly, not loud).
53 Choral section: sopranos and altos enter first
53-64 Smooth cantabile style.C major tonality (with B-flats). Material presented…
65-72 Angular staccato style.
E minor tonality.
73-99 Smooth choral writing accompanied by angular orchestral sounds. Crescendo to bar 99 (=bar of silence!) …and combined.
100-104 Alleluia
Gentle woodwind-and-brass gurgling.
Moment of repose.
…full stop.
105-147 Altered recapitulation of angular music from 65-99.
Tonality:104 E-flat major
115 C major
118 G major
126 E major
131 F major/B-flat major
142 G major
144 A sharps introduced
147 F major chords hint at enharmonic change
148-150 to D major via F sharp major triad.
Exciting new horn solo (bars 134-138) and 'clinching' chords of greater dissonance (bar 141).
The tonal manoeuvres this section achieves are somewhat complex.
150-163 Laudate eum in cordis et organo
Link passage with new rhythm (dotted crotchet, quaver).
Crescendos into final section.
Acerbic counterpoint: note how the D major tonality is constantly undermined, such as at bar 154 (by an F-natural).
Bar 157-163 includes a chromatic ascent in the soprano. Compare the complexity of this to the simplicity of the double-bass ostinato which underpins it: this is why bar 163 does not sound jarring: the bass has been emphasising B-flats, so E-flat is not too far away.
163-205 Laudate eum in cymbalis, benesonantibus
Laudate eum in cymbalis, jubilationibus
Laudate DOMINUM, laudate Eum
Omnis spiritus laudet DOMINUM.
Stephen Walsh writes: "The limpid setting of 'Laudate Eum in cymbalis', with its almost mystical ecstasy, gets its richness every bit as much from the balancing of tension between E-flat and C as from the harmonic blend of threes and fours in the rhythmic ostinato." [Music of Stravinsky, London 1988, p.154]

Part of the work's status as a masterpiece derives from its distanced treatment of these joyous words.
205-213 Alleluia Shock E-natural in bass part (again).The last chord has an attractive 'growl' made by the bottom C of both pianos.

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