Lobet den Herrn – Bach
Funeral sentences – Purcell
Matra Pictures – Kodaly
Rejoice in the Lamb – Britten
Draw on sweet night – Wilbye, Rutter
Wherefore tonight so full of care – Finzi
I know that my redeemer liveth – McDowall
The Twelve – Walton
City of Oxford Choir's summer concert in the beautiful chapel of Keble College collates a sequence of choral masterworks from different eras and traditions.
Rejoice in the Lamb by Benjamin Britten sets excerpts from the extraordinary poem written by Christopher Smart during his confinement at St Luke's Hospital for Lunatics in the mid-eighteenth century. By turns exuberant and harrowing, Britten's cantata perfectly captures the expression of faith from a troubled mind. Other poems which hint at mental illness are given powerful musical treatments by Finzi, Wilbye and (in a rare expression of his full compositional range) John Rutter. The Britten will also resonate in the context of that other towering setter of English prose, Henry Purcell, whose collection of movements prepared for the Funeral of Queen Mary contains music of similar heartfelt pain and noble spirit.
Emerging from the shadows, exuberance surrounds us in the Bach motet Lobet den Herrn ‘Praise the Lord, all ye nations’, and in the vivacious Matra Pictures, scenes of a Hungarian homeland preserved and arranged with flair by Zoltán Kodály, while Cecilia McDowall’s beautiful motet I know that my Redeemer Liveth is imbued with a serene faith.
Finally, combining both aesthetics is Walton’s seminal dramatic anthem The Twelve. Commissioned by Christ Church Cathedral in 1965, this is a startlingly vivid setting of a powerful text by WH Auden depicting the trials of the apostles' attempts to found the early church.
Join them, and the organist Greg Morris, for this choral tour de force!
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