In the early sixties Maw had the idea of writing a carol each year which he hoped would be performed at Christmas. If they did not appear quite as planned on an annual basis, Maw nevertheless wrote four attractive contributions for the Christmastide season during the decade and these, together with a later example, now follow. The angel Gabriel (1963) is an arrangement of the well-known old Basque melody. Here Maw creates a variety of choral textures including a two-part setting of the second verse and a leaping figure that accompanies the melody and which bursts out ecstatically on the word ‘Gloria’ for the final verse.
from notes by Andrew Burn © 2007