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Print edition

The Cathedral

mixed choir (SATB)
Product number: F 5401331
Edition: Choral score
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Product Details


The Cathedral is a choral setting of poetry by Edith Södergran. Reading her poems, one immediately appreciates that Södergran, if anyone, is a builder of cathedrals, and Gothic ones at that. A single word or coupling of words may hint at a form which is as ghastly as it is beautiful, an ornamentation both surprising and unique which looms dizzily above us, a slender window on eternity. With unbridled and brilliant elasticity, she has her Nietzschean art-nouveau sensibility dancing forever upwards towards those timeless visions which stand at the rooftops of life's magnificent edifice. Several of the poems used here have been dear to me from my schooldays onwards and were the subject of compositional attempts even then. Those early pieces had already disappeared like leaves in the wind by the time I was invited by the Finnish and Swedish national radio companies to write a piece for their respective chamber choirs in 1983. Rediscovered and recomposed, this poetry was the substance from which the cathedral's walls took shape - a cathedral where we pass by Romanticism's sarcophaguses (At Nietzsche's Grave) and through whose roof we see meadows of stars (The Stars). The frenzied absurdity of godliness (The Whirlpool of Madness) makes its presence felt, and the ultimate questions of man and artist are laid down to be addressed (Am I a liar?). Arches which reach for the stars are created out of polyphonic textural masses. Symmetries are to be found everywhere in the melodic and harmonic structures, just as they are in the symmetrical parity of a cathedral's transepts on either side. A melodic figure which appears at the opening of the work may turn up later in intervallic inversion. By the end of the work we arrive at an altar "On the Steps of the Himalayas", and the words "The garland which never adorned my brow" in the tenor find continuation in the bass soloist's line "... these shall I lay silently at your feet", this time in melodic cancrizans: the brow, the honour of being laid on earth or at the feet - in essence they are the same and we find parity here too. (Einojuhani Rautavaara)

More Information

The Cathedral
Swedish, English
Choral score
Fennica Gehrman
Year of composition:

Technical Details

Product number:
F 5401331
0,1 kg
19.2cm x 27.5cm
Saddle-wire stitching

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