George Benjamin’s Sometime Voices for baritone, chorus and orchestra is a setting of Caliban’s famous speech in Act III Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Composed in 1996, the 9-minute work places long, forceful baritone lines above an orchestra that drifts between an eerie tranquillity and mercurial activity. Behind this, the chorus, acting as spirits – sometimes benign, sometimes menacing – invoke his name.
‘… refined aural sensibility and meticulous craftsmanship… What we experience, in this haunting soundscape of shifting metres, cross-currents of orchestral breath and vibration, baffling fragments of calling and humming voices, are not only the magical sounds themselves, but Caliban’s own responses. His frissons of sensuous delight, his bewilderment, above all – in a brilliantly achieved orchestral climax – his inchoate terror are all musicked into being.’
The Times (Hilary Finch), 6 May 2003
'An atmospheric and subtly orchestrated piece, it compels attention from the opening wisps of sound on xylophone and mandolin, threading its way through forceful baritone phrases (William Dazeley, excellent) and Daphnis-like choral spirits into a perfectly-paced crescendo before dying away in a trance.'
Financial Times (Andrew Clark), 16 September 1996