Night descends on Gethsemani. The shadows fall; stillness and silence reign. It is as if the garden itself remembers that evening when the Saviour himself came to it, seeking rest after those tumultuous days in Jerusalem. Our heart is overcome with holy ecstasy, and worships you … and yearns to sleep, thus, among your memories, and to dream …
A mysterious call reverberates in the sky. The heavens, trembling, seem to shower the Holy Land with a gentle rain of stars. In the silence a remote voice affirms the unyielding law of ‘Pain’ and ‘Redemption by Renunciation’.
We tremble, search our hearts and humble ourselves; we berate ourselves and are sad …. Then, unexpectedly, we feel a touch like a caress – perhaps that of the first breath of dawn. We look up towards heaven, to the multitude of constellations and galaxies, and we are suddenly aware of God’s promise to us all.
This, surely, is the hour for reflection and prayer …
With the composer’s own descriptive outline of the work, it is easy to follow its emotional progress; what is of particular interest is that the entire thematic material is based upon Gregorian chant, but which is so subtly stated at the outset (on muted first violins – a rising unaccompanied phrase) that it is at once transformed into a larger monothematic study, whose orchestration is of great beauty and refinement.
from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2001