chorus and soprano

Commission: Elmer Iseler Singers

From its opening measures, Ô! Kosmos! creates an atmosphere that seems both weighty and overwhelmingly empty, like the interior of a cathedral. Harmonies that are at times crystal-like and a text that is sometimes shuffled from one voice to another create a great sense of calm that reinforces this impression. A spectral choir—might one say cosmic?—reveals Vivier’s predilection for setting his own texts, here in both French and an invented language. It also communicates his passion for the intangible: the cosmos, time, the imaginary, and music.

Vivier composed Ô! Kosmos! in the winter of 1973, while he was studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne. The work also coincides with the composition of Chants, which Vivier described as, “my first truly personal work.” This claim seems truly borne out in Chants, the text of which is autobiographical in nature. But the same might be said for the music of Ô! Kosmos!, which is one of the earliest instances of the composer laying bare his musical personality for the audiences’ ear.

Martine Rhéaume [viii-07]