Manifica, minun sieluni

Malcolm Hill dedicated this setting of the Magnificat to the Finnish composer Juha Hyvönen (born 1964, believed drowned 1984) who came from a family at the centre of Finnish musical culture.  Kokkonen, Rautavaara and Sallinen met regularly at the Hyvönen family home in Sotkamo during the 1960’s and 70’s.

            Manifica, minun sieluni was completed in 1980 during a visit to Sotkamo.  The chorus sings only in Latin (at the opening, in a derivative form without plosive consonants), the soprano soloist sings only in Finnish (1908 translation).  By the end of the work the whole canticle has been set.

The first section demonstrates Mary’s quiet innocence, with the chorus providing shifting harmonies (with the single mantra ‘Manifica’) beneath the solo soprano and alto flute.  Once the choir has sung their first section of Latin text, Mary’s mood changes to insistent (and almost aggressive) with the Finnish translation of He has shewed strength with his arm, he hath scattered the proud…in a fast-paced duet with the flute, before the calm of the opening returns.  The final statement of the soprano is a quotation from a simple Finnish song, answered much slower in the chorus’s almost-hidden alto line by a quotation from a hymn-melody.

The work was later incorporated into Malcolm Hill’s Freedom on St. Nicholas’ Day (2008).