In July, the Three Choirs Festival will present a rare performance of Matthews’ narrative for baritone and ensemble The Great Journey. Marcus Farnsworth will join the Goldfield Ensemble and conductor Adrian Partington.

 

Based around the story of the conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who between 1527 and 1536 was lost in the interior of Central America, much of the work is communicated through dramatic recitative. The piece is laced with evocative fragments of sixteenth-century music, which Matthews deftly weaves into the sonic fabric.

 

This bold and dramatic work – around 50 minutes in total – remains one of Matthews’ most substantial statements. It is almost 25 years since it was last performed in its entirety, although Fuga, a thrilling instrumental version of the third part, is regularly programmed.