TECHNICAL LEVEL: Difficult
MUSICAL STYLE: Extended chromatic tonality
COMMENTS: Duke University commissioned this set of canticles, and Marsh delivered with music as expansive and immersive as the famous chapel, itself. Her rapturous style entices the ear to follow her musical logic with absolute abandon. Touches of Britten, Howells, and Leighton in no way indicate a derivative style. To the contrary, Marsh emerges from a venerable tradition with a strong, individual voice that nonetheless evinces careful study of precedents. Bold chromatic lines avoid harsh dissonance through uniformity in language and absolute conviction of rhetoric. The organ part is an equal partner to the voices, with many thrilling soloistic moments and many thorny elements requiring careful preparation. Vocal lines are demanding yet clearly written by a singer. Even the most agile of lines retain an idiomatic quality. The Te Deum moves through the lengthy text with majestic pacing, making for a setting that exceeds ten minutes in performance. The Jubilate moves more briskly, setting the verses of the Psalm in around four minutes.
Combined, these two canticles form a substantial set on parity with the most highly regarded services in the Anglican tradition.