Setting this text was such a lonely experience, and even now just writing these words I am moved to tears. I wrote maybe 200 pages of sketches, trying to find the perfect balance between sound and silence, always simplifying, and by the time I finished a year later I was profoundly changed. Older, I think, and quieted a little. I still have a hard time listening to the recording. -- ERIC WHITACRE.
Following up on yesterday's selection with a setting that feels similar in mood -- not a surprise, given the commonality of the text -- yet is just about as disparate in terms of style (and age) as possible: "When David Heard," from the contemporary composer Eric Whitacre.
The first thing I noticed? It's longer; much longer, really. Yet it uses the same text, which means there's a lot more repetition. So it's probably not a surprise that Whitacre, who wrote a fascinating post about the piece's composition, said that "I decided that my first and most principal musical motive would be silence."
When David heard that Absalom was slain
He went up into his chamber over the gate and wept,
and thus he said: my son, my son, O Absalom my son,
would God I had died for thee!