Subtitled ‘Two in the Campagna’, Maw’s Roman Canticle adds voice to the standard trio of flute, viola and harp (the instrumental combination used by Debussy in his 1917 Sonata) and was singled out by The Times for its ‘harmonic eloquence and rhythmic fervour’. Sculpting gracious, lyrical vocal lines from Browning’s famously unwieldy verse, Maw is once again shown to be a subtle and sensitive vocal writer. Light and breezy instrumental passages evoking sunny Italian climes rub shoulders with moments of intense, often yearning longing for something past. In the work’s final moments Maw’s post-romantic language – voice and flute snagging expressively against consonant harp chords – proves the perfect foil to Browning’s poem, which expresses the intangibility of human love, the ‘infinite passion and the pain of finite hearts that yearn’.
'Maw’s harmonic eloquence and rhythmic fervour crystallize the initial agitation to become a flowing vocal line coloured by the writing for flute, viola and harp, the words borne aloft like a continuation of the musical idea and resolved into the gentlest of instrumental postludes.'
The Times (Noël Goodwin), 6th November 1989