LENNOX BERKELEY (1903-1989): Stabat Mater, Mass for 5 Voices, Judica me, MICHAEL BERKELEY (b.1948): Touch Light.
Catalogue Number: 08S040
Description: Touch Light, commissioned for a wedding celebration, sets a text distilled from the sentiments of love music from operas of the late Renaissance and early Baroque as a duet over a ground bass adapted from Monteverdi and Purcell. The crystalline purity of the entwined vocal lines is underlined by a gentle, warm but spare string accompaniment. The Stabat Mater by Berkeley père may justly be considered one of his finest works. The piece brings together the composer's deep Catholic faith, the musical impetus of his relationship and enduring friendship with Britten (for whose English Opera Group the work was written) and the flowering of his mature style in the creatively nurturing environment of his new-found domestic happiness after his 1946 marriage. Those who respect but do not love Berkeley as an elegant, craftsmanlike but rather dry composer may be surprised by the passionate, in places almost operatic, intensity of this setting. He greatly admired extrovert works of a religious nature such as Verdi's and Britten's works in the requiem genre, and his son has suggested that he felt freer to express passion in religious works than secular or instrumental ones. Thus there is a somber grandeur to this setting, despite the modest scale of its forces, and a florid expressiveness to the vocal writing which emphasizes the powerfully, sometimes wrenchingly, emotional nature of the text, its very human drama. The vocabulary is of course tonal, with the composer's characteristic Gallic clarity and his unerring sense of the ebb and flow of harmonic tension. The Marian Consort, Berkeley Ensemble; David Wordsworth.