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Three Metaphysical Motets
I. The Collar, II. I Saw Eternity the Other Night
III. At the Round Earth's Corners
Composed by Z. Randall Stroope
Voicing: SATB a cappella
Catalog number: AMP 0865
Perspective on the three...
London poet John Donne (1572–1631) established the “Metaphysical Style” of poetry, penning such lines as “No man is an island entire of itself . . . And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” This style was later adopted by George Herbert (1593–1633), Henry Vaughan (1622–1695), and several other writers of the day. Donne's poetry (among other things) is characterized by abrupt openings and almost shocking dramatic shifts (such as in “At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners”), occasional terse syntax, metaphors from all spheres of life, and the presentation of a logical and persuasive argument about religion or some aspect of British nobility. This style of delivery was in direct opposition to the smooth elegance of the Elizabethan poetry of his day.
George Herbert followed Donne's lead but maintained a unique perspective on the “Metaphysical Style.” He draws metaphors from everyday domestic experience, unlike the more sophisticated imagery of Donne. Herbert also introduced the idea of ending a poem with two quiet lines that add a unique twist or perspective on the poem (such as in “The Collar”). Herbert dedicated his poetry output to God and the struggles that humankind has with the whole idea of faith and believing in the unknown. “The Collar” is about just such a struggle. Unlike the very narrow readership (nobility) of Donne, Herbert's poetry was written for the masses.
Welsh poet Henry Vaughan was a “Renaissance man” of varied interests, including law, medicine, military service, and poetry. The writing of George Herbert served as a Vaughan's greatest influence, including his faith conversion later in life. In fact, Vaughan's poetry is often criticized because of its perceived duplication of Herbert's style. Vaughan's uniqueness, however, lies in his more mystical themes such as communion with the dead, eternity (“I Saw Eternity the Other Night”), nature, and images of childhood. He was attracted to the unfamiliar, remote, and fantastic notions that are popular even in 21st century film and other media.
Z. Randall Stroope is one of the most active choral conductors and composers working today, with recent conducting engagements at the American School in Singapore, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, the Vatican, Washington National Cathedral, and many other venues. He has conducted thirty–five all–state choirs and toured on nearly every continent in the world. He also is the Artistic Director of summer music festivals in Italy and England. His music has been heard on National Public Radio and in performances and recordings by professional ensembles in Holland, Germany, Sweden, France, Japan, Spain, Canada, South Korea and many other countries. His principal composition teachers were Cecil Effinger and Normand Lockwood, both students of the famed Nadia Boulanger (student of Gabriel Fauré). Recordings can be heard on his web site (www.zrstroope.com) (www.zrstroope.com) or CDs Passages, vol. I, III, and III: The Choral Music of Z. Randall Stroope.
Approximate recording lengths:
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