TIMOTHY HAMILTON (b.1975): Requiem for Soloists, Organ, Chorus and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 12T064
Description: Hamilton's Requiem was commissioned in 2012 to mark the centenary of the start of World War I and was premiered on Remembrance Sunday, 2014. It is a large-scale setting of the Latin text of most of the Requiem Mass, with a Prelude that sets Isaac Watts' "Give us the wings of faith" and Psalm 91, "The Warrior's Psalm" interpolated between the Kyrie and Hostias. The work is sumptuously neo-romantic and tonal, if anything looking back to Bach rather than forward to the twentieth century. To get an obvious comparison out of the way, it sounds very little like Britten's WWI Requiem, which is boldly modernistic in overall conception and vocabulary by comparison with Hamilton's unabashedly conservative idiom. The music never sounds reactionary or derivative, though; its firm adherence to tradition while contributing an original work to the sacred repertory might best be compared to the works of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev (10S085, 07R071, 04Q086). The Prelude opens with a horn call that recalls the Last Post, then a hushed orchestral introduction seems to offer a panoramic view of a deserted, ruined battlefield before the Watts setting. The Mass proper begins with the solemn, imposing Introit and lyrical Kyrie eleison. The Psalm is set as Anglican chant with organ accompaniment, then the Latin Mass resumes with the prayerful Hostias et preces sung a cappella. The lush Romantic textures and harmonies return in the Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei, the Hosanna an exultant and triumphant fugue. The mood turns to remembrance again in the Benedictus, and the plangent supplication of the Agnus Dei ushers in a substantial orchestral interlude, "Lest we forget". This is a reflective slow movement that acts as a summation of the work so far, and an introduction to the imagery of 'the pity of war' contained in the final sections of the Requiem. The Pie Jesu is sung by the baritone, suggesting a prayer for a fallen comrade, then the drums of battle announce the Libera me, tense and dramatic and the closest the work comes to invoking the day of judgment. A radiant In Paradisum brings the work to a consoling and uplifting conclusion. Ilona Domnich (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo), Nicky Spence (tenor), David Stout (baritone), Ian Tindale (organ), Cantoribus, Rosenau Sinfonia; Timothy Hamilton.