This inspired and substantial work from one of our senior composers deserves a prominent place in the repertory. It was commissioned by Peter Pears and first performed by him and Noel Mewton-Wood in 1953. The confident sweep and visionary intensity of the music is in close empathy with the texts and is sustained throughout in a most impressive manner. The composer’s characteristically forthright, committed and authoritative approach is evident in all four movements. The work is truly on a grand scale. The composer’s dash and virtuosity at the keyboard might be surmised from the exceptionally demanding piano parts which are full of colour and drama; they require a player of some stamina and considerable fire. A dramatic tenor voice with a good strong middle range is best suited to the piece. An operatic approach is in fact the most appropriate; the singer should use a rich palette of tone colours and an extrovert, often declamatory manner with excellent diction. A work of such boldness and fervour contains few reflective passages, giving a performer of the former qualities a wonderful chance to exhibit them without restraint. The work is also a good choice for an unassuming singer who wishes to develop and unleash his platform personality to the full. The vocal writing is guaranteed to involve the singer in hard work, but this is repaid by greater strength and security throughout the range. Conventional notation is used in a tonal idiom.
KeywordsTempo Alan Milton
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