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This work is very much a companion piece to my Hurdy Gurdy of 1989. Both works are based on pieces of early vocal music. Whereas Hurdy Gurdy drew on the 13th century Spanish melody Como poden per sas culpas, this piece goes back a century to a 12th century sacred song. The original song Promat chorus hodie is found in the library of the cloister of St. Martial in Limoges.
The music shows strong folk-music influences, giving it a vigorous and rhythmic feel. The harmonic support is a simple drone on an open fifth. The opening of the work presents a free transcription of a recording of the piece, although I have taken some liberties with the music I have allocated to the piano. Following this slower introduction the main melody begins played by both flute and cello, initially in octaves and then in fifths. This presentation of the melody in parallel fifths is the source of most of the harmonic support in the piano. Eventually the music becomes quieter and gives way to a repetitive piano background against which fragments of the main melody are heard. A slightly slower section brings the two melody instruments to the fore, giving the pianist a break from the almost constant quaver movement which is a feature of the first two-thirds of the work. The main melody returns at a faster speed in a brief recapitulation, and the whole work ends energetically. The text of the original begins as follows:
Promat chorus hodie
Psallite o contio
psallat cum tripudio
(O people, let us all sing out happily today; Make music together, with instruments and dance)
Commissioned by Chamber Music New Zealand Inc. for the Still/Mathers/Tennant Trio with funds provided from a legacy from the estate of Nancy Hobson of Hawkes Bay and from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council (now Creative New Zealand)
19 Sep 1994: Premiered by the Still/Mathers/Tennant Trio in Napier for Chamber Music NZ