Page 23 - MacDonald Evening Service in A flat SATB
P. 23

Choral parts should be sung with confidence, and full legato tone. Altos, tenors, and basses need to be aware of places where there
are unexpected dissonances, such as what seem to be unprepared suspensions. Actually, in all instances, suspensions are prepared, but not always in the same voice part as the dissonant note itself (see, for example, the alto part in bar 34, where the E flat on the second minim beat is dissonant, but it is actually prepared in the organ part on the first beat of the bar)—the singers are invited to relish those sorts of moments. There are a couple of places where the bass part includes ‘top’ E flat—second basses can leave those notes out where required,
as they are always covered by the tenors as well. Finally, the words should always be enunciated as clearly as possible, especially where the word-setting is contrapuntal rather than homophonic.
A small number of instructions suggesting manual-changes and registration are provided. As with any accompaniment, the organist
is free to adapt these to suit whatever instrument is being played
at the time. Since much of the choral texture is in a resonant range
for the singers, and there are a number of sections where they are effectively singing either in unison, or in only two parts (i.e., soprano and tenor in unison, and alto and bass in unison) the organist can afford to play at a comfortable supporting dynamic (not too quietly
or subserviently). The service was originally written with the large Harrison and Harrison at Ely Cathedral in mind, with its wonderful solo division. Instruments which don’t have a massive Orchestral Tuba for the end will obviously require some compromise: the player could use full Swell coupled to the Choir for the right hand chord, and play the four solo notes on the Great trumpet up an octave, for example. Crucially, the congregation should ideally be able to hear the two corresponding solos at the end of each of the Glorias: the expectation of the dominant which ends the Magnificat played on the trumpet, answered by the resolution of the tonic note at the end of the Nunc dimittis, played on a beautiful solo flute (even with the tremulant if desired).
A live recording of the first performance of the work, conducted by the composer, can be heard here:

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