X Garland

X GarlandIn 1902 at the height of his creative powers Mokra­njac wrote the Tenth Garland (first performed on June 2 of the same year) which ranks with Goatherd as his finest works in secular music. Apart from the exceptional quality of the material selected – songs from Lake Ohrid, the superb treatment of the choral setting, clear structure (three fast movements alternating with two slow), this “garland” is particularly distinguished by a pure har­monic style with the frequent use of modal solutions. This is especially true of the first song, Biljana Whitened Her Linen, which keeps oscillating between B fiat-major (Ionian) and G-minor (Aeolian mode); it is all graceful movement, enlivened with a transparent combination of female voices and tenors in the second and fourth stanzas, with an unobtrusive canon imitation in the third. The melody is probably Mokranjac’s free paraphrase of the song, Three Rifle Shots, also harmonized with tonal oscillation (C-minor, G-minor), while similar treatment is given to the third, Dinka Sweeps the Halls, a robust but not cheerful scherzo. Classic simplicity and calm distinguish the fourth song, Let Me Go Out, in the words of Petar Konjović, “worthy of a great Dvorak adagio”. Using the most economical means (only four different chords) Mokranjac achieved the maximum in expressive intimacy. Lively and temperamental, the last song Gay Flowers end the sonorous strains of this “garland”, an example and sym­bol of Serbian choral music.

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