NOTES ON WORKS A to B

Afterword

Caroline Heaton writes:

Afterword is written in the form of questions, rather than exhortations or ‘information’, and is couched in very simple language, which leaves the audience free to reflect.”

The first two questions are posed by bass then soprano, accompanied by a distant, textless choir. Three questions are then posed by the choir:

“… Whose decisions write and re-write history,

inscribe laws that outlaw the oppressed?

 

Whose wounds speak volumes,

whose injuries cry out for redress?

 

Who now has ears to hear, who now

has a heart that is grief-possessed?

…”

before the bass and then the soprano soloists each sing the final question:

Who now finds compassion still within himself?”.

Agnus Dei (Mode II)

When the Anglican church introduced new translations of the Mass, the Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Bath asked Malcolm Hill to compose settings in each of the eight liturgical modes of the Gloria, festal Sanctus, ferial Sanctus and Agnus, along with sets of Alleluias. When additional changes were made to the English text by the church authorities, he reworked many of the movements back into Latin. This is one such movement, in the Dorian mode.

 

Benedictus – a Homage to Binchois (1976)  mj108

It was a standard procedure during the Renaissance period for composers to write a Homage based on another composer’s work. Either a vocal line was transferred to another part and then the whole piece was re-worked, or a short passage (either at the opening or closing of a section) was used to generate a new composition. The melodist Gilles Binchois (c.1400-1460) was a Netherlandish composer of the Burgundian school (along with Dufay and Dunstable), whose musical ideas were used as sources for far more composers to rework than those of his contemporaries. In 1976 MH wrote a Homage to Binchois, for the choir of St Mary-the-Virgin, Primrose Hill in London. He took material from two cadences by Binchois and composed new music before it while maintaining Binchois’ standard structure and to some extent his harmonic style. The text comes from St. Luke 1 vv68-76, 79.