Nico Muhly - A Good Understanding
Nico Muhly (1981-) is a much-talked-about young American composer. He's probably most well-known for writing the soundtrack to The Reader and his work with several pop artists, like Björk, CocoRosie, Antony and the Johnsons and Jónsi (he also performs quite often with Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto who I love). As a child he sang in a chorus, which has probably enabled him to write so many amazing choral works (his orchestral works aren't half-bad either). This summer his opera, Two Boys, premiered in London. This is what Muhly himself says about A Good Understanding:
I hope you all love this as much as I do."A Good Understanding is a celebratory, excited work originally written for adult voices with the addition of children’s voices at the end. The piece unfolds episodically, short choral phrases alternating with longer interludes from the organ and the percussion. The first half of the text is typical psaltry praise-making: outlining agreements, explaining the rules; the music is, accordingly, severe but practical. The second half of the text begins, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments”. I find the idea of “a good understanding” to be an especially exciting reward for following the rules; the trebles sing pulsed syllables and long descants to celebrate the covenant while the choir sings a lilting, repetitive refrain."