Hyperion Records

The Second Coming
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The Second Coming takes up the theme of The Bridal Chamber, in the form of Yeats’s poem of the same name. Yeats’s work is pervaded by metaphysics, and though his passage through theosophy and his attempted synthesis in A Vision would perhaps not lead one to expect any coincidence with the themes of Orthodox Christianity, in fact the sense of separation from God underlying the plea for salvation in The Bridal Chamber corresponds exactly to the apocalyptic Yeats:

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

The instability of the world that turns its back on God is symbolized in the semitone clash (C–D flat) played, barely audibly, on the organ pedals in the work’s first bar. This dyad underlies the entire piece, sometimes resolving onto a simple C, but always returning. And even when the dissonance does resolve, it is masked (to use another Yeatsian word) by harmony from another key on the manuals – one can say symbolically that different keys represent different metaphysical states. The choir reflects and augments this instability, singing a lullaby whose dissolving harmonic logic is periodically interrupted by unison intimations of the darkness to come.

from notes by Ivan Moody © 2004

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