Review: Ave Verum Corpus

Lovely reviews of Dan’s choral music in The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians. First up, Ave Verum Corpus – SATB div, unacc. (Subito Music Publishing, 91480590, 2011), 10 pp., $2.25.

“Dan Locklair has emerged as one of the most significant compositional voices in contemporary American choral music, based on a string of works that span a wide range of styles and scope. His setting of Ave Verum Corpus is something of a microcosm of his creative personality. It begins with a dreamy oscillation of harmonies typical of his early organ compositions (e.g. “The Peace may be exchanged” from Rubrics and “…beside the still waters” from Windows of Comfort) in a rich A minor cast. A few touches of rhythmic independence in the part-writing enlivens the languorous texture, while the steady half-note beat prevails. At the mention of “cruce” Locklair introduces the characteristic Baroque-era chromatic cross motif used by Bach and others, yet this recognizable gesture is so well prepared that it doesn’t call attention to itself. Beginning with “cuius latus perforatum,” the motet begins moving with greater immediacy. Syncopated lines call attention to the drama of the text as it builds to a climactic (although piano) moment on “mortis examine.” The following list beginning with “O clemens” builds into widely-spaced fortissimo chords of arresting beauty. As the music moves towards its conclusion on “O dulcis Jesu, fili Mariae” the passion subsides. A solo soprano enters, repeating the text above an unearthly long-held C-sharp major chord. Touches of pan-diatonicism, biting chromaticism, and Locklair’s characteristic Lydian leanings all appear with seamless cooperation. For all its varied technique, the motet achieves a singularity of effect. With voice parts divided much of the time and some surprising harmonic shifts, this is not a piece for limited choirs. Larger ensembles with accomplished singers will eagerly embrace this as part of their regular repertoire.”