Past Concerts

In Time of War

Sunday 16 November 2014, Sunday 16 November 2014

Mayfield Festival Choir conducted by Jeremy Summerly with London Primavera led by Paul Manley and soloists Eloise Irving (soprano), Anna Harvey (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Guthrie (baritone), Tristan Hambleton (baritone).

• Haydn: Mass in Time of War (Paukenmesse)
• Ireland: Greater love hath no man
• Haydn: Insanae et vanae curae
• Walford Davies: Short Requiem in memory of those fallen in the War

In late 1796, Austria was mobilizing its home guard. Foreign campaigns against the French were failing, and the people of Austria – Haydn among them – were living under threat of invasion. Against this belligerent backdrop, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War is notably optimistic, although storm clouds had gathered over Europe, and the prominent part played by the kettledrums in Haydn’s Mass is a constant reminder of this. Dating from the same period, Insanae et vanae curae (‘Vain and raging cares invade our minds’) is one of Haydn’s darkest and most dramatic works. The setting of Insanae et vanae curae twice tries to dispel the futility of the self-destructive human condition with gentle music, although Haydn’s legendary optimism is less than convincing in this uniquely disturbed composition.

John Ireland wrote his iconic anthem Greater Love in 1911. At the time he was building a reputation as a first-rate composer and educationalist. Four years later, by 1915, the future of England and English music looked much bleaker. Henry Walford Davies wrote his Short Requiem ‘in sacred memory of all those who have fallen in the War’. It is a devastatingly curt and bleak work. In this performance, HWD’s Short Requiem will be interspersed with readings of poems written during the First World War by Rudyard Kipling, Robert Service, May Sinclair, and May Wedderburn Cannan.

‘My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.’ – Wilfred Owen (1918)

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