Planctus super ‘Jusques à quand’ (Ps. 13)


Clarinet and string quartet


For the Bennewitz Quartet and Harry-Imre Dijkstra. Part of a projected Super Suite (working title), seven dance pieces over liturgical hymns.


This ‘planctus’, or mourning song, is based on a three bar bass ostinato, chromatically descending over nearly an octave – an extreme case of a ‘lamento bass’. The bass derives from the repeated motive b flat – a – c – b (German: h), the notorious ‘Bach motive’. Far from being Bach-like, my harmonic resolution of the bass has strong jazz characteristics, almost Ellingtonian. The melodic germ for the piece is taken from the first lines of King David’s lament in the 13th Psalm, on the melody given to it in in the Geneva Psalter – “Jusques à quand, ô Dieu des cieux, jusques à quand, loin de tes yeux, me laisses-tu dans ces alarmes?”. Over the obstinately lamenting bass, this melodic line receives a quasi-improvisatory, klezmer-like and blues-like treatment.

Super Suite: V – Planctus super ‘Jusques à guand’ (Ps. 13)