Bruce Macrae
Classic Melbourne, Australia

In the new setting, as the old man’s tremulous tune seemingly endlessly repeats, the a cappella voices accompany, harmonise and embellish the phrases. Gradually voices in counterpoint expand into the space: humming becomes vowels, lengthen into words, become phrases in canon, become riffs on phrases taken up by newer smaller groups which have formed … the old man’s voice continuing as a cantus firmus while the shifting groupings and vocal textures grew and evolved. One felt that the full glory of choral singing was being revealed. As a companion piece to the Bryars work, Antony Pitts’s Transiens is an outstanding accomplishment … the outer two sections of Transiens revealed themselves to be a fantasia on a series of canons, which, like the Wylkynson original, focus on the twelve phrases of a much older confession of faith—the Apostles’ Creed … the evolving textures created by the counterpoint and the resulting harmonies again reinforced the joy of singing for its own sake … entrancing moments of vocal expression—melismas, very high notes, cheeky rhythms, 'odd' notes in chords, the men’s voices suddenly singing disjunctively, and even solo voices. Finally and movingly, towards the end, as if in homage to Gavin Bryars’s old man of simple faith, the full choir reminded us in unison of the melody of his burden, Jesus’ blood never failed me yet … even such a thing as the melody of a simple confession of faith can be reworked by a composer and fine voices into something ‘sufficient, beautiful, even glorious’.