Advent Calendar Day 23 – I sing of a maiden (Joachim Knoph)

Today’s carol is going to surprise anyone who is familiar with my usual tastes in music. The composer is actually younger than I am and this piece of music may even have been composed in the current millennium, which makes it a good 400 years newer than the majority of this playlist. It’s actually the kind of music that I really don’t like singing, because it has odd, atonal harmonies and it’s hard to know where it will go next, and if you are an alto, you are probably singing G most of the time.

But it’s a very pretty setting of this carol for all that, and it makes me realise how even classical music goes in cycles – while it definitely has a 20th / 21st century feel, there is something medieval in the harmonics; they have that starkness that comes from open fourths and fifths, and there are bits of plainchant-inspired unison. Even the dissonances feel archaic rather than supermodern.

And, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I do like Mary songs best when they are sung by female voices. It feels more fitting, and I think they sound better.

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