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Luther Cantata

By Barbara Harbach

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Composed by Barbara Harbach (1946-). Youth Musicals & Large Choral Works. Vivace Press #VIV 709. Published by Vivace Press (VV.VIV-709).

Item Number: VV.VIV-709

Barbara Harbach's arrangements follow the centuries-old practice of invigorating traditional melodies with contemporary harmonizations and rhythms. Pachelbel and Back, Reger and Karg-Elert, and countless others have creatively reworked these well-known hymns of Martin Luther. Part I is an exuberant arrangement of the original rhythmic melody Ein Feste Burg; it features a counterpoint enunciation of each theme and a lively middle section before the echoes of the familiar theme herald the end of the first movement. Part II is a newly harmonized four-part chorale on the tune Aus Tiefer Not. This moves immediately to "From Deepest Depths I Cry to You," the baritone (or alto) solo written on the same melody. This solo (Part III) creates a mood of quiet introspection with its recurrent plaintive cry. Part IV, "Christ, the New Contender," is a powerful and lively setting of the second verse of Ein Feste Burg which announces Christ as our triumphant advocate. Part V, a chorale based on Vater Unser, introduces the soprano or alto solo "Our Father, Lord of Sea and Sky." This famous prayer (Part VI) provides a meditative respite before the climactic final movement. Part VII marks the return of Luther's exhilarating hymn - this time the more familiar hymn tune. "Ein Feste Finale" features a moving accompaniment and contemporary harmonizations, but it retains the famous melody in the soprano line, enabling audiences to participate if they choose.

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