On Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 8:30 PM, we invite you to a concert during which the new composition by Dawid Kusz, O.P. “Miserere mei Deus” for vocal octet and string quartet will be presented. First, the Airis String Quartet will perform Anton Webern’s Langsamersatz.

Psalm 51 (Miserere mei Deus) is one of the most musical texts in the Bible. From the Renaissance to the present day, it has received many musical interpretations; the works of Gregorio Allegri, Josquin des Pres, Carl Gesuald da Venosa delight and move to this day.

An interesting fact is that in Polish music the best-known examples of musical interpretations of Psalm 51 do not come until the second half of the 20th century. The text of the psalm was used by composers such as Witold Szalonek, Paweł Szymański or Stanisław Krupowicz. The earlier writings of Psalm 51 are either forgotten or little known. The resulting work is therefore to fill a certain “gap”, which is undoubtedly a relatively small number of musical interpretations of the psalm in our native culture against the background of European and world music.

The process of creative perception was preceded by an in-depth study of the very text of Psalm 51. Contemporary exegesis offers several different interpretations of the Psalm Miserere. The most insightful research on the text of the psalm was carried out by Gianfranco Ravasi in his work Il Libro dei salmi (Bologna 1986). The Italian researcher proposed an interesting concept of a philological and theological interpretation of the psalm, which became a direct inspiration for its musical arrangement.

Ravasi, examining the text of the psalm, proposed the linguistic plane of the text as a starting point, looking for repetitions, similarities, and mutual relations. This allowed him to divide the text of the psalm into three sections: Section I – verses 3-11; Section II – verses 12-14 and Section III – verses 15-21. Then, while examining the structure and meaning of Miserere’s text, he found hidden orders within both sections.

In the first section of the text (vv. 3-11), he noticed a certain idea in composing the text, which he called a “concentric structure”, consisting in the fact that the extreme verses of the sections correspond in terms of content, terminology, the time mode used, and the center of the discussed structure becomes verse 6b.

The above-mentioned structure can perfectly stimulate the composer’s imagination. The parallelisms discovered by Ravasi may lead to the use of similar melodic, harmonic material in correspondingly corresponding verses, and the center of the concentric structure can be musically imagined as the culmination of the piece.

Ravasi found the structure of the second section of the psalm in the so-called “little epiclesis”, the structure of which is as follows: God’s call – a request for God’s spirit.

10 God, create in me a clean heart,
renew within me a resolute spirit,
11 [O God], do not thrust me away from your presence,
do not take away from me your spirit of holiness.
12 [O God], give me back the joy of your salvation,
sustain in me a generous spirit.

The second part, kept in a contemplative character, is based on the aleatoric technique, symbolizing here “the breath of God’s Spirit”. Ravasi called the third section of the Psalm “liturgical appendix,” because the final verses of the Psalm clearly refer to the Old Testament liturgy of sacrifice.

The musical material was composed in such a way as to refer to liturgical practice in its pronunciation; each verse ends with a similar melodic structure (“refrain”), which is a reference to the liturgical responsorial psalm.

Performers: 1st vocal quartet: Maria Klich, Łucja Nowak, Piotr Windak, Jakub Ciępka; 2nd vocal quartet: Maria Babicz, Justyna Łokcik, Łukasz Miśko OP, Grzegorz Szulik and the Airis String Quartet: Aleksandra Czajor – 1st violin, Grażyna Zubik – 2nd violin, Malwina Tkaczyk – viola, Mateusz Mańka – cello. First, the quartet will perform Anton Webern’s “Langsamersatz”.