Lazarus Requiem is the latest in a series of large-scale Christian-inspired choral works by Hawes. It's also something of a textual and musical oddity, combining the words of the Requiem Mass with original text and Gospel adaptations by Hawes's brother Andrew, a priest. This two-track narrative is reflected in the work's musical shape, which intersperses the Latin rite with a series of pictorial tableaux of the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. It's a structure that doesn't always convince. But what the Lazarus Requiem does do—and to striking effect—is bring into sharp relief Hawes's unerring gift for evocative orchestral texture and beautiful melodic line. In this regard he's brilliantly served by Thomas Walker as Christ: the young Scottish artist's glorious, youthful and effortless tenor rings out with utter conviction and real musical presence.
Despite occasional pitch challenges, the Exeter Philharmonic Choir is equally committed, well supported by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In sum, an unusual and heartfelt addition to the catalogue and a work that could well earn a place in the repertoire of more ambitious amateur choral societies.