Herrick’s Oratorio is a five-movement setting of six poems by [the] seventeenth-century mystical poet Robert Herrick for mixed chorus and organ.
The first two movements are a cappella—without organ accompaniment. The first, “His Creed/I’ll Hope No More,” is an elaborate, fast moving, virtuosic scherzo uniting two of Herrick’s poems.
The second movement, “To His Sweet Saviour,” is a short, passionate anthem ending with the organ’s dramatic initial entrance.
The organ continues throughout the third movement, “In the Hour of My Distress.” This movement is a monumental, highly developed fugue rising to a grandiose climax, which then melts into the fourth movement, a hushed and quiet setting of Herrick’s cryptic poem, “Divination by a Daffadill,” scored for solo soprano accompanied by organ and humming chorus.
The finale is a rollicking chorale-prelude setting of Herrick’s poem, “Two Graces for Children” [in which the] chorus sings the poem to the tune Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott. Between each stanza, the organ plays virtuosic passages derived from the oratorio’s first movement. The work ends in a blaze of choral glory.
David Del Tredici
“David Del Tredici, now 86, can still tap into that extravagant, fantastical manner that powered his signature work Final Alice (1974-75).”
“An island of tranquility emerges in the fourth movement aria “Divination by a Daffadill” … one of Del Tredici’s finest-ever melodies, accompanied by some atmospheric humming.”
“Del Tredici … is firing on all cylinders.”
— Musical America