Wondrous Love Variations (1991)  for Solo Viola 
Composer Perry Goldstein
Duration 10:30

A 2005 International William Primrose Competition Repertoire Selection

Perry Goldstein (born 1952 in New York City, New York) was educated at the University of Illinois, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Columbia University.  He is the Director of the College of Arts, Culture, and Humanities and Stony Brook University of the State University of New York, where he is also on the music faculty.  Goldstein has composed extensively for chamber ensembles, including the sextet Twittering Machine (1997), a duo for piano and cello for Juilliard String Quartet cellist Joel Krosnick and pianist Gilbert Kalish entitled (W)eeeeee! (1999); the bass clarinet solo piece Total Absorption (1994) for Michael Lowenstern; and the piano work Of Points Fixed and Fluid (1995) for Eliza Garth, among others.  He has also written extensively for saxophone, including three quartets for the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet, all available from Bergez Music Publishing.  They are Blow! (1993), Fault Lines (1998), and Motherless Child Variations (2002).  He has also composed a saxophone quartet concerto entitled The Abundant Air: Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Band (2003) for the United States Military Academy Band at West Point.  Wondrous Love Variations is a 2005 International William Primrose Competition Repertoire Selection.
"Wondrous Love" is now widely known as a hymn tune, traceable to an1866shaped-note collection called Christian Harmony.  The tune's original incarnation, however, was apparently as a folk song of far more profane sentiment.  When I first heard "Wondrous Love" performed by a folksinger in the Smoky Mountains in June of 1991, I was haunted by the tune's beautiful melody, earthy dorian modality, quirky phrase structure, and deeply affirmative faith.
Wondrous Love Variations consists of six variations, preceded and followed by a literal statement of the original melody.  My intention in composing this piece was to "get out of the way" of the hymn tune, to be more its medium than its manipulator.  To that end, I have tried to preserve as far as possible the structure and sensibilities of the original.  Each variation contains a statement of the melody, explicitly set off from the accompaniment or woven into the larger texture, and the harmonic language remains true to the modal implications of the original.  Each variation has at its core a different emotional affect.  I attempted to compose variations that, taken together, would suggest a variety of styles, from simple "prayer" to earthy and robust dance, many manifestations of human joy.
Wondrous Love Variations was composed for John Graham, who gave the premiere performance in Los Angeles in November, 1991.
The first verse of "Wondrous Love": 
What wondrous love is this, oh my soul, oh my soul,
What wondrous love is this, oh my soul.
What wondrous love is this,
That caused the Lord of Bliss,
To bring this perfect peace to my soul, to my soul,
To bring this perfect peace to my soul.
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