I’ve talked previously about before and after moments in music. We’ve all had times when you hear music you’ve never heard before that makes you stop, because its beauty catches you by surprise. Or there’s the music that you play over and over again because, somehow, you need to.
For me, one such moment involved the Crucifixus for 8 Voices by Antonio Lotti (1667-1740). It was mesmerizing. To this day, there’s a moment of calm, of stopping, when the piece first starts.
It is short, but brilliantly constructed. The voices enter, one by one, layering sumptuously one upon another. This is then combined with Lotti’s insistent use of suspensions. Suspensions occur when a note is held as the harmony changes, resulting in dissonance until the held (suspended) note changes to align with the new harmony, and so is resolved. I learned that in this brief 41-measure piece Lotti uses 49 suspensions. The suspensions add an air of uneasiness as the listener waits expectantly for the chord to resolve, enhancing the doleful words of the piece. When the final chord arrives, it is majestic.
The Crucifixus for 8 voices, a motet, is part of the Credo in F, which in turn is part of a complete mass (Missa Sancti Christophori).
Here is Crucifixus performed by the Rundfunkchor Berlin of the Berlin Philharmonic. Another favorite of mine is the performance by The Sixteen with Harry Christophers.
You are welcome to share your own before-and-after music moments in the comments, and we’d all love to hear about them.
If you want to hear how each voice contributes individually, each part can be found here.
http://www.ancientgroove.co.uk/lotti/lotticredo.html (free PDF of the score available at this site and also at http://imslp.org/wiki/Crucifixus_a_8_voci_(Lotti,_Antonio) )