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Nico Muhly

Publisher: Chester Music

Lorne Ys My Likinge (2015)
Work Notes
Co-commissioned by Wigmore Hall with the support of André Hoffmann, president of the Fondation Hoffmann, a Swiss grant-making foundation; the Borletti-Buitoni Trust; and anonymous donors. First performed by Iestyn Davies, Allan Clayton and James Baillieu on 4th December 2015 at Wigmore Hall, London.
St. Rose Music Publishing
Solo Voices and 1-6 players
Year Composed
14 Minutes
countertenor, tenor
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Programme Note
Nico Muhly Lorne Ys My Likinge (2015)
Lorne Ys My Likinge is a setting of the 19th Chester Mystery Play, which imagines Mary Magdalene, Mary Jacobi (the sister of the virgin), and Mary Salome (the mother of James and John) at Christ’s tomb. There, they weep, and are confronted by two angels, with the faces of children. Like many passiontide texts, this play is simultaneously violent, still, empassioned, and mystical. I tried, as Britten so wonderfully did in his Abraham and Isaac canticle, to capture the drama of this moment as well as the more shimmeringly tense presence of the divine. The two voices here do not actively sing one role or another; indeed, they swap lines with one another, and sometimes one voice will create a halo of wordless sound around the other’s more declamatory text. In addition to a more traditional accompanying role, the piano interjects with electrical jolts, most notably at the beginning of the setting. The angels sing in a much more chromatic style — I’ve never entirely bought the idea that angels should be peaceful choirboys; instead, I’ve always imagined them as frightening, mysterious, and highly stylised. The piece ends in a state of suspended animation, with Mary Magdalene asking why she herself is not dead and buried.

The piece is dedicated to Iestyn Davies and Allan Clayton, both extraordinary singers, musicians, and friends.

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