See in bar 12, the trebles have this long melisma on the syllable “ge,” and they have to double up on the f? You have to do a little arabic glottal stop, and it’s just a tiny blink, but it focuses the phrase. Also, the deliciousness of f-natural to f-sharp right after that, with all those major and minor modes reflecting around the church: it was a very strange emotional moment for me: I wasn’t really sure what about it I was reacting to, but I was having a very serious reaction. Part of it was that while we were encouraged to ask questions about the text with the goal of understanding it, the implication was that the notes would make their own sauce without too many hysterical interpretive gestures. Even after a few years inside the liturgy, the wonderful subtleties of the texts continue to unfold, I assume, until death and beyond. The strangeness of the situation (a bunch of American 10 year olds singing a narrative about a Jewish mother 2000 years ago) and the ecclesiastical hush of the interpretation all gave me a serious shiver.
And this, friends, is why you must read Nico Muhly.
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