To round off a memorable autumn term, before we abandon ourselves to the Christmas spirit, Vox Holloway is marking the end of the first world war centenary by reviving a double-bill we first performed four years ago.
Our Fauré Requiem is in a special new arrangement by Harvey Brough based on the French composer’s original chamber version, rather than the later – and more familiar – orchestral version.
The idea of partnering it with a new piece of music was born when Harvey and librettist Justin Butcher began to think about the impending four-year centenary of the first world war.
“It led Harvey and I to reflect on how Vox Holloway might engage with the theme of another world, the land of the departed,” says Justin.
“Though not a religious believer, Fauré nevertheless found the sombre texts of the Latin Requiem Mass for the Dead a powerful and liberating structure.
As Fauré himself wrote: “Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.”
Harvey and Justin’s response was “a kind of cradle-song to a new-born child.” For Harvey, who wrote the score in just two weeks, “the child remembering was a powerful image.” Out of this image came a 10-minute partner piece to one of the most beautiful – and forgiving – works in the classical canon (Fauré had no time for the punitive histrionics of the Dies Irae.)
Incantation of Eden responds by shaping itself around the gentle injunction: “Listen … and remember”.
The Faure Requiem and Incantation of Eden, conducted by James Murray, will be performed at 7.30pm on Sunday 25 November, at St Luke’s, Hillmarton Road, London N7 9JE.