Salvatore Sciarrino – Responsorio delle Tenebre

In recent times, one of the Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino‘s significant interests has been the life and music of his compatriot Carlo Gesualdo. Sciarrino’s opera Luci mie traditrici, composed in 2003, explored the events surrounding Gesualdo’s murder of his wife and her lover, and two years earlier he wrote a small choral work in response to the composer’s much-lauded setting of the Tenebrae services.

However, Sciarrino’s Responsorio delle Tenebre does not, in fact, draw on the texts used in Tenebrae (or indeed Gesualdo’s music), but is a setting of Psalm 54. The text, uttered in the midst of “strangers” and “enemies”, is a rather desperate plea for vindication and rescue, and Sciarrino’s approach is simultaneously robust and vulnerable. Each of the seven verses is sung twice (in the order 1-2-3-1-2-3-4-5-6-4-5-6-7-7), oscillating between a stark, bold delivery using plainchant and a quavering collection of overlapping wails and sobs, focussed on and around a single note. Such an extreme contrast as this makes the latter verses sound all the more acute and desperate, something that Sciarrino extends as the piece progresses, resulting in an almost crazed display of keening and muttering.

It’s performed here by EXAUDI, directed by James Weeks, from a concert broadcast in January 2010.

Salvatore Sciarrino – Responsorio delle Tenebre

FLAC [22Mb]

Text
Deus, in nomine tuo salvum me fac:
et in virtute tua judica me.

Deus, exaudi orationem meam:
auribus percipe verba oris mei.

Quoniam alieni insurrexerunt adversum me,
et fortes quaesierunt animam meam:
et non proposuerunt Deum ante conspectum suum.

Deus, in nomine tuo salvum me fac:
et in virtute tua judica me.

Deus, exaudi orationem meam:
auribus percipe verba oris mei.

Quoniam alieni insurrexerunt adversum me,
et fortes quaesierunt animam meam:
et non proposuerunt Deum ante conspectum suum.

Ecce enim Deus adjuvat me:
et Dominus susceptor est animae meae.

Averte mala inimicis meis:
et in veritate tua disperde illos.

Voluntarie sacrificabo tibi:
et confitebor nomini tuo, Domine, quoniam bonum est.

Ecce enim Deus adjuvat me:
et Dominus susceptor est animae meae.

Averte mala inimicis meis:
et in veritate tua disperde illos.

Voluntarie sacrificabo tibi:
et confitebor nomini tuo, Domine, quoniam bonum est.

Quoniam ex omni tribulatione eripuisti me:
et super inimicos meos despexit oculus meus.

Quoniam ex omni tribulatione eripuisti me:
et super inimicos meos despexit oculus meus.

O God, save me in thy name:
and judge me in thy strength.

O Lord, hear my prayer:
and hearken to the words of my mouth.

For strangers have risen up against me,
and the mighty have sought after my soul:
and have not set God before their eyes.

O God, save me in thy name:
and judge me in thy strength.

O Lord, hear my prayer:
and hearken to the words of my mouth.

For strangers have risen up against me,
and the mighty have sought after my soul:
and have not set God before their eyes.

Behold, God is my helper:
and the Lord upholdeth my soul.

Turn back the evil upon
mine enemies: and destroy them in thy truth.

Freely will I sacrifice unto thee:
and will praise thy name, O Lord, for it is good.

Behold, God is my helper:
and the Lord upholdeth my soul.

Turn back the evil upon
mine enemies: and destroy them in thy truth.

Freely will I sacrifice unto thee:
and will praise thy name, O Lord, for it is good.

For thou hast delivered me out of all trouble:
and mine eye hath looked down upon mine enemies.

For thou hast delivered me out of all trouble:
and mine eye hath looked down upon mine enemies.

Posted on by 5:4 in Lent Series
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