'[A] welter of polyphonic lines and cross-rhythms.’   The Times

Availability

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

In the mid-1990s I was shown a dramatic black-and-white photograph by Michael Serota of the Jewish cemetery in Prague: a chaos of beautifully carved old tombstones almost tumbling over each other in semi-disorder.  This stark image informed the whole of 'Past Hymns' which makes specific reference to the modalities of Jewish traditional musics, both sacred and secular, in music of as similar starkness and vehemence to the carved images of the cemetery as I could manage.  In the spirit of ecumenism, rhythmic and melodic elements from African American spirituals and from other persecuted religions, such as the Shakers and the Quakers, also contribute elements to the musical discourse.  Whilst not explicitly political, 'Past Hymns' is definitely music of resistance and protest.  The majority of the work is fast, rhythmic, and polyrhythmic.  In the final section, however, the polyphonies congeal into a sustained wall of sound which moves slowly towards resolution, before the music dances off at the end.  J A

 

Reviews

‘Impressive… it opens with thick swarms of close-textured chords, the high strings low, the low high, like a congregation meeting at the same tessitura. A middle section gives lyrical solos to violin and viola over a tickled accompaniment before the finale arrives with a big, beautiful discord, bowed long enough for us to hear all its glowing, vibrant parts.’
The Evening Standard (Rick Jones), 4 February 1997

 

'[A] welter of polyphonic lines and cross-rhythms… movement and kinetic energy are the salient characteristics.’
The Times (Barry Millington), 7 February 1997

 

Past Hymns

Hall of Hlahol House (Prague, Czech Republic)

Orchestr BERG, Peter Vrabel

Past Hymns

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre (London, United Kingdom)

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Past Hymns

No Venue (Brussels, Belgium)

Orchestre Royal de chambre de Wallonie, Jean Thorel

Past Hymns

+ 1 broadcast by Slovenian Radio

Marjan Kozina Hall (Ljubljana, Slovenia)

London Sound Ensemble, Richard Heason

Past Hymns

No Venue (Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom)

The London Sound Ensemble