Salvation is Created
Salvation is Created is a choral work composed by Pavel Tchesnokov in 1912. It was one of the very last sacred works he composed before he was forced to turn to secular arts by the Soviet government. Although he never heard his own composition performed, his children had the opportunity to in the years following his death. Salvation is Created was originally published in 1913 by J. Fischer and Bro. but its popularity drove editors to produce many different versions in both Russian and English. Scored for either six or eight voices (SATTBB or SSAATTBB), the work is a communion hymn based on a synodal Kievan chant melody and Psalm 74 (73 in the Greek version). The original Russian text is as follows:
- Russian Script: Cпасение coдeлaл еси посреде земли, Боже. Аллилуия.
- Phonetic Alphabet: Spaséniye, sodélal yesí posredé ziemlí, Bózhe. Allilúiya.
- English: Salvation is made in the midst of the earth, O God. Alleluia.
- (Tchesnokov 2002)
The keys of B minor and D major are the work’s primary key centers, and it is cast in AA’ or two part strophic form.
Symphonic wind arrangement
Although this arrangement was almost an exact transcription of Tchesnokov’s original choral work, Bruce Houseknecht transposed it up a half step to C minor and E flat major in order to accommodate the register of the symphonic wind ensemble. He also rewrote the work using a 4/4 meter rather than cut time to make phrases more evident and the notation much easier to read. In measures 27 and 67 of the vocal setting, Tchesnokov utilizes a bar of 1/2 time to emphasize the text changing to “in the midst.” Up until then, the phrase “Salvation is created” is repeated. Houseknecht’s arrangement eliminates the meter change entirely. Instead he uses an eighth rest to maintain Tchesnokov’s intent to emphasize the new phrases beginning in measures 14 and 35. Other than these few changes, Houseknecht does not deviate from the original work.
Although the work is cast in a two-part strophic form, each section can be broken down into an “A-B-coda” form. The A section, measures 1 through 17 of the original score and 1 through 9 of the wind arrangement, is characterized by two soft, identical phrases in a minor key. In choral work, Tchesnokov creates contrast between the two phrases through the voicing. The first phrase is sung by the bass and tenor voices while the soprano and alto voices carry the second phrase. To maintain the change in timbre in his transcription, Houseknecht scores the first phrase for 2 B-flat clarinets, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, string bass, E-flat contrabass clarinet, tuba, and solo horn. 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 alto saxophones, and 3 cornets are used in the second phrase to answer the first phrase in an antiphonal style.
Section B (measures 18 through 35 of the Tchesnokov and 10 through 18 of the Houseknecht arrangement), on the other hand, is a forte tutti section characterized by thick texture in the relative major of the previous tonal center. Tchesnokov creates stark contrasts between sections A and B with this tonal shift and further emphasizes it with a dynamic shift. Although In the band arrangement, Houseknecht strengthens their dissimilarities with thicker texture (all voices play), the timpani are used to tie the two parts together by playing an A flat, starting at piano in the last measure of the first section and crescendoing to an E flat on the down beat of the second section. The last few bars of this section relaxes and decrescendos to set up for the tag or short coda section (measures 36 through 41 of the vocal score and 19 through 21 of the band arrangement). This section can be characterized as a soft retreat back to the style of section A.
In the original choral work, Tchesnokov then repeats exactly the same pitches and rhythms as if there was a da capo, but the text of this half contains the word “Alleluia” all the way through the rest of the piece. Since a change in text cannot be portrayed in an instrumental work, Houseknecht revoices the A section to make the repeat more interesting. The low brass section carries the first phrase while the high brass and woodwinds answer in the second phrase. In the E flat major, tutti section (measures 31 through 39) and the coda (measures 40 through 42), he also revoices chords in the woodwinds to reinforce the finality of cadences.
- Rommereim, J. C. "'The Choir and How to Direct It:' Pavel Chesnokov's magnum opus." CHORAL JOURNAL, Official Publication of the American Choral Directors Association XXXVIII, no. 7 (1998): 29-42.
- Tchesnokov, Pavel. "Salvation is Created (Pavel Tchesnokov)." Choral Public Domain Library. Two editions. http://www.choralwiki.org/wiki/index.php/Salvation_is_created_(Pavel_Chesnokov) (accessed February 15, 2011).