Ten: “Tell Me Something Good” - The Sing Off (by NBC)
I wasn’t planning to watch The Sing-Off this season because… Jewel. But my sister called me last night to ask if I was watching it and the DVD I had rented was terrible (an early Sirk German melodrama from the ’30s).
So I watched and critiqued the groups with my sis instead. This Ten group from Dallas is one of my early favorites.
Górecki wrote the piece in response to an incident of police brutality in the city of Bydgoszcz. It was in 1981, at the height of the conflict between the Solidarity movement and the communist government. A few months later, martial law was declared and Górecki’s music lay silent. The piece finally premiered in 1987.
Like the “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,” Górecki’s Miserere is simple in its construction but not simpleminded. The entire text consists of just five words — “Domine Deus noster, Miserere nobis” (Lord our God, have mercy on us). He builds the piece slowly, in layers, beginning with low tones in the basses and eventually rising to the sopranos. The repeated phrase “Domine Deus” washes over in peaceful waves — its meditative mood about as far as you can get from a ferocious police beating.