Mahakoe is an intense work, driven by Moerane’s impassioned love lyrics which are clearly inspired by W.B. Yeats’ poem, ‘He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ (1899) although they are much darker in tone. His harmonic language is Wagnerian – the ‘Tristan’ motif is quoted – bordering on expressionist at times in its use of chromatic dissonance. The central section contrasts in key, tonal freedom and rhythmic style with the outer two and begins with an extended hemiola, like the second theme in the finale of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. The vocal writing is unlike anything else Moerane wrote, almost instrumental; indeed, it could be easily transcribed as a string quartet. In short, this is a unique song in Moerane’s output. In order to help choirs learn this song, a free mp3 of the lyrics spoken by Mpho Ndebele is downloadable when the song is purchased along with a rehearsal mp3 of the song at a slow tempo.
The audio sample below was generated from the Sibelius file of the score and the image on the right shows the first page of the score.