The Gate of Purgatory


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The Three Gates was composed during the first two weeks of March in 2007 shortly after Ford began reading Dante's The Divine Comedy.  It is dedicated to the British composer and singer David Warin Solomons, a fellow member of the Delian Society with a remarkable vocal range who prepared the first performance by singing and recording all of the parts himself.   Ford's musical style in these three movements, the last two of which include the organ, was strongly influenced by his familiarity with the music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly the polyphony of Josquin and the operas and madrigals of Monteverdi, although elements drawn from composers as diverse as Gesualdo, Beethoven, and Liszt also come into play.   

"The Gate of Purgatory," which takes its text from several different places in Purgatorio, Canto IX, is cast in C minor, and with its simple declamatory style and chordal accompaniment, it recalls the operatic recitatives of the early seventeenth century.  Here the text is given primarily to the alto soloist, with a brief appearance of the bass as the angelic Gatekeeper.  Following these melodic statements, the organ provides a ritornello whose dance-like character is a counterweight to the gravity of the moment.  In its final statement, the alto directly quotes the Gregorian hymn mentioned by Dante in his text—"Te Deum laudamus."

This mp3 performance is by the dwsChorale, Sale, United Kingdom, with David Warin Solomons directing. The sound engineer was Steve Fraser, Dallas, Texas.

Learn more about the dwsChorale and David Solomons' multivocal recordings.

Last updated May 8, 2007
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© Copyright 2007 by Joseph Dillon Ford (music) and David Warin Solomons (performance)