Heinrich Schalit’s setting of the 23rd Psalm in English translation, in its evocations of perceived antiquity, is atypical of his work. Yet it is one of his best-known and most frequently performed pieces. Its distinguishing features are its stark simplicity and calm, even-tempered flow, which provide the desired mood of resignation and comfort suitable for memorial services. Although cast in triple meter, the setting nonetheless suggests the aura of a nonmetrical chant that follows the natural rhythm of the words. The intended effect here is a partially stylized echo of ancient psalmody, with its logogenic emphasis, the predominance of a repetitive reciting tone for the majority of syllables, and modest variation at cadences that resolve typically on the designated final tone, or finalis. The vocal line is cast in a simple modal framework.
Performers: Samuel Adler, Conductor; Aaron Miller, Organ; New York Cantorial Choir
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