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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Advent Antiphon: O Adonai (2010)
Chester Music Ltd
Chorus a cappella / + 1 instrument
Year Composed
1 Minutes
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Programme Note
John Tavener Advent Antiphon: O Adonai (2010)
This work was commissioned by the Revd. Dr. Simon Jones for the Choir of Merton College, Oxford. It was first performed on 27th November 2010 at Merton College, Oxford, by the Choir of Merton College conducted by Peter Phillips.

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush,
and gave him the law on Sinai:
come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

  • Ensemble
    Choir of Merton College
    Benjamin Nicholas
As so often with Tavener’s music, a musically simple structure gives a profound and aurally complex result. Here the Latin words of the ‘O’ Antiphon ‘O Adonai’ are sung to an ecstatically climbing melody that returns (by a slightly varied inversion of pitches) to its starting point on a G. The melody is repeated in canon between first and second sopranos, and then harmonized in first inversion chords – all underpinned by sustained a G on ‘Ah’. Dynamics start at poco f and rise to ff. The effect is of an ever-intensifying cry to ‘Adonai’ to come and redeem us: music that fulfils the composer’s opening mark of ‘joyful, expectant’. Both soprano parts need crystal-clear top As, approached and left by an interval of a minor sixth.
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