3(III=picc & afl).3(III=ca).3(III=bcl & cl in Eb).3(III=cbsn) - 4.3.2.btrbn.1 - perc(4): vib/glsp/whip(2)/t.bells(2)/large mar/steel drums/BD/3 susp.cym/2 siz.cym/2 tam-t/2 tgl - harp - pno - strings
The opening of a new performing space – or in this case, a newly refurbished one – is always a cause for celebration and rejoicing. Initially this work was only going to set the word ‘alleluia’ repeatedly in many languages and dialects. Then my friend Bayan Northcott drew my attention to the extraordinary set of verses in Latin known as the ‘Alleluia Sequence’ in which all creation joins together in praise and jubilation. The word ‘Alleluia’ occurs at the end of every verse, so there was plenty of chance for me to set it in different ways. I did not wish simply to write an occasional piece, but to explore the many emotions of celebration in a variety of ways that would result in contrasting types of music, whether exuberant or meditative. Chorus and orchestra dialogue in the manner of a concerto, each having passages to themselves. Three musical sections are played without a break. First, a dense orchestral mist from which choral melodies reminiscent of plainsong emerge. Then a vigorous choral-orchestral dance, ending with a choral cadenza. Finally, the longest part - mainlys slow, which explores the word ‘Alleluia’ alone. Here the orchestra includes a number of unusual instruments such as steel drums.
'Anderson's Alleluia focused on just one word, but with as many harmonies, textures, and rhythms as could be wrung from it: a tour de force which Jurowski and the London Philharmonic turned into something rich and rare. The luminous thicket of sound with which the piece opened developed gracefully towards its climactic explosion of extemporised shouts.'
The Independent (Michael Church) 12 June 2007
'Astounding... a choral kaleidoscope of moods and colours around the word "Alleluia" that brought out the goose pimples.'
The Daily Express (Peter Whitehead) 13 June 2007
'Alleluia created siren sounds in the Daphnis mould, with a typically intelligent setting of its ecstatic 10th-century text.'
Financial Times (Andrew Clark) 13 June 2007
'Alleluia is not some generically celebratory piece but a mystical, agitated, high-strung and complex score, filled with thick-textured Messiaen-like sonorities, spiky harmonic writing and jagged contrapuntal episodes. During one frenetic section the chorus breaks into a gaggle of shouted alleluias.'
The New York Times (Anthony Tommasini), 13 June 2007
'The mood of celebration was set with Alleluia, a setting of a 10th-century Latin sequence in which all creation sings aloud in praise. Pizzicato strings and plucked harps hovered evocatively in the air. The London Philharmonic Choir, with nowhere to hide in such a revealing acoustic, maintained pitch admirably
and delivered a virtuoso cadenza of animated susurration.'
Evening Standard (Barry Millington), 12 June 2007
'Anderson's Alleluia included a transfixing segment, freely scored, for the chorus alone.'
Gramophone (Martin Cullingford), June 2007
'A 15-minute choral work in which he characteristically eschewed the obvious. Anderson is not a composer to turn out a declamatory C major work by way of celebration. Instead he offered some remarkable choral writing, underpinned by a score with some crisp woodwinds and tuned percussion chords.'
Musical America (Keith Clarke), 12 June 2007