Here is a performance from one of the great orchestras of all time - the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, back when they were directed by Neville Marriner.
It is the build-up of pulsing, arpeggiated chords (in their various forms), and their extraordinary harmonies, that makes the culminating, climactic choral entry so overwhelmingly powerful. And, because this is Marriner's band; each rising and falling chord is phrased and shaped, the string tone is sheer silver, and the music has a sinuous and sustained line.
The first 16 bars are tremendous, but also exactly what we would expect - and seem to be just about to be followed by the chorus; but it has been a feint leading to some decorative violin shapes.
The volume and expectation then drop right back down; and we seem to 'start over again' with the intro. We are just 30 seconds into the piece, and already there is a sense of confused expectation...
This time we seem at first to be getting an almost repeat; but then, just as we might expect an end to it, from about 60 seconds the harmonies start becoming dissonant and 'scrunchy', the chords cease to be predictable, the volume dies down again - where is this piece going?
For some twenty seconds we seem to be adrift in an sea of clashing notes.
Then gradually we become aware that, in fact, we have reached a kind of sea-bed. A firm base. The harmonies are gathering-themselves. The dissonances are moving step-wise towards something. The volume and tempo seem to be surging like an oceanic wave...
Good grief; this is the countdown, and lift-off is imminent.
Then: Bam! The resolution is given by the major chord of the choir's first word.
At full volume; the force of seven-part choral harmony hits you with Solid Block Chords; one for each word or syllable of the text. Simple. Devastating.
The rest is fine; but inevitably doesn't live-up-to what we have just heard.