La Passion: Music for Good Friday

6:30 pm, Fri 19 April 2019

St Peter's Church, Vauxhall

Vaughan Williams Mass in G Minor
Gerald Finzi Lo the Full Final Sacrifice
Maurice Duruflé Quatre Motets

Epiphoni’s annual Good Friday recital at St Peter’s Vauxhall with music for Lent, Passiontide and Easter.

The programme will be a blend of English and French music featuring the Mass in G Minor by Vaughan Williams and the Quatre Motets by Duruflé amongst many sonic treats from both sides of the channel!

Featuring motets by: Weelkes, Gibbons, Finzi, David Bednall, Messaien and Owain Park


Notes on the music

For this year’s annual Good Friday recital we present a programme of meditative music on the themes of the Easter story by composers from England and France, including David Bednall a contemporary composer and long-standing Epiphoni associate, who draws inspiration from both.

Vaughan Williams is often said to be that most quintessential English composers, and his Mass in G Minor with its soundworld akin to his Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis harks back to  the English Renaissance evoking a bygone-ness that is very fresh all at once. It is scored for double choir and soloists, the latter frequently forming their own quartet, the texture rising to a total of 12 voice parts. It is a powerful experience when these choirs are spaced around the building as we intend to do this evening.

Another composer often considered archetypally English in his sound was Gerald Finzi. His setting of Lo the Full Final Sacrifice by Crashaw is rich with imagery of Christ’s suffering draws out some of his finest writing: the exquisite tenor passage, “O soft self-wounding pelican”, chief amongst these (a pelican was once said to feed its young with its own blood). In the words of the poetry “Triumphant Text provokes thy praise”: this is a truly rousing tour de force. It concludes with a reflective reinstatement of the opening text and an Amen which ranks as one of the most affecting in all music.

Durufle’s set of four motets opens with Ubi Caritas, a motet associated with Maundy Thursday and washing of the feet. Like with the Vaughan Williams, Durufle’s motets hark back to an earlier time, based as they are each on a different Gregorian chant. Tota Pulchra Es refers to Mary (“you are completely beautiful”) and speaks of her immaculate conception. It is sung in Durufle’s setting, appropriately enough, by the soprano and alto voices only. Tu Es Petrus is the most exuberant – and fastest – of the motets, addressing Saint Peter, the rock and foundation of Christ’s Church. The set concludes with Tantum Ergo, the last two verses of Pange Lingua, honouring Christ in the Eucharist.

In the first of two considerably more exultant pieces, Hosanna to the Son of David by Weelkes represents the crowds on Christ’s arrival on Palm Sunday into Jerusalem. O Clap Your Hands sets text from Psalm 47 for polyphonic double choir; a celebratory anthem suitable for Eastertide.

David Bednall draws inspiration from all the composers above, most especially Durufle, Finzi and Vaughan Williams, and is someone whose music Epiphoni knows well having recorded a CD of his music, Sudden Light on Delphian Records which includes a setting of Tota Pulchra Es (also sung to a setting by Durufle earlier).

From one composer Epiphoni recorded to the next: Owain Park is a rising star whose music is increasingly being heard in churches, chapels, concerts and on the radio waves. Epiphoni will record a CD of his music later this year, and as a taster perform his powerful Holy Is the True Light.

Allowing a brief excursion to the New World, Bob Chilcott’s setting of the spiritual Were You there? is our little indulgence for this evening: an item we sang at our debut performance – here at St Peter’s Vauxhall – five years ago tomorrow.

If you would like to support Epiphoni as it enters its next five years, including projects such as the next CD recording, please see the brochure on your seats or speak to members of the choir’s committee, Morgan Simes or Chris Pelmore.

Getting there

Nearest station: Vauxhall