Here’s an mp3 post for a rainy Friday afternoon, another contemplative moment.
This is Allegri’s Miserere, a stunning piece of choral music composed in the 1630s. It is so sublime that for a long time it was only performed once a year and anyone who wrote it down would be excommunicated for doing so. The story goes that Mozart (whose 250th birthday is today) broke the ban by hearing the piece, transcribing it from memory and then giving it away. In this respect Wolfgang may have preceeded Napster by a couple hundred years. Thanks to Wolfgang’s transgressions, this Miserere is now open source and able to be performed by any choir with a soprano that can hit that high C. For me, as one who is not a great fan of Mozart’s music in general, I consider this one act to be his greatest acheivement.
The piece is ten minutes long, so sit back, close your eyes and enfold yourself in the textures of it as it moves between plainsong and polyphony and as that soprano descends from heaven with the most heartstopping phrase in choral music.