I purchased enough copies for our schola out here in California and before our hiatus after Pentecost for the summer, we read through as many pieces as we could and performed one of his Marian hymns on the last Sunday of May, “Thee, O Mary, will we praise.” I had some personal correspondence with Peter on a number of occasions, and he graciously asked if I would be interested in reviewing the collection at the Chant Café. Having resigned as a contributor from the Café, Peter also approached our friend Jeffrey Tucker for his imprimatur for my return, and JT, as always, provided the gentlemanly invitation for that, and with Richard Chonak’s help, this is my first column review. I would refer the reader here to purchase a copy just to read the preface to the book. Perhaps that can be accessed at the CCW website (I’m not sure.) But Peter’s passion for his mission is only matched by his philosopher’s eloquence in the preface introduction.
I – KYRIE (III, p.20)
Among the variety of Mass Ordinary movements in the volume, I wanted to first examine how Peter approaches settings that could possibly be introduced not only in the choral setting, but perhaps even intended for congregational use. This concept of mine I could illustrate by citing the example of Tallis’ famed “If ye love me,” which employs a primary sort of homophony within the polyphonic structure for the most part, but which an attuned congregant could actually “hum” melodic motives by memory. So, textually, this Kyrie keeps the text more or less unified vertically. But he uses very subtle inner voice movements to exact some exquisite moments that use 20th century harmonic “innovations” such as the simple minor v in second inversion (m.6) on the first beat which then employs the tenor moving to the minor 7 on beat two to land us back to a brief tonic moment on beat three. The movement to a new “tonal” center keeps going into the final bar of the first Kyrie with a prepared double suspension on beat one of m.7 that eventuates in a very satisfying shift from the original F minor to its relative major Ab at the first major cadence. Keeping that center at a slower (meno mosso q=80) tempo, after “Christe” Kwasniewski opens up the close root position Ab Major chord to what one could deem either an EbM6th in first inversion or a Cm7 in second inversion for “le-i” throughout the entire measure to move back to F minor on “-son.” So sublime and the time is afforded singer and listener to savor this “mercy.” Mm.11-13 reiterate “Christe eleison” again using a brilliantly prepared alto suspension below the soprano which is ornamented with a 16th note couplet that harmonically cadences, though over more time, in the same fashion as did the first “Kyrie cadence.” And in m.12, the altos are afforded the lovely moment to imitate that soprano ornament in their voice part’s resolution of the suspension.