In Centone, the patchwork idea applies both to text and music. The text, a psalm in itself, was formed by combining various verses from other psalms. The pitch materials, based largely on the chorale tune Aus tiefer Not schrei' ich zu dir, were derived by fragmenting the melody into phrases, motives, and cells. Finally, the structure of Centone is a patchwork of six short movements in one continuous work. The text appears below.
Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Ps. 61: 1 and 2)
For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. (Ps. 38: 4 and Ps. 143: 4)
But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth. (Ps. 71: 14 and 5)
I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. (Ps. 18: 1 and Ps. 31: 3)
This being my first orchestral composition, I chose to incorporate the voice, an instrument with which I am very familiar. The work also betrays the fact that I had been performing, conducting, and lecturing on the cantatas of J. S. Bach at the time. Here, the sequence of individual movements (prelude, aria, recitative, interlude/arioso, aria, postlude) is highly distilled, rendering a cantata in miniature.
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