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Choral Symphony


The Choral Symphony was written in the summer of 2012 as the climax to Jackson’s Associate Composership, and premiered by the Singers on a tour to Denmark and Sweden in October of that year. The work is a glorious homage to Jackson’s adopted city of London, as well as a tribute to the extraordinary group of singers also based there, and with whom he had now worked closely for three years. It has texts from every century from the sixteenth to the present day (plus a line from Tacitus—the only non-English text on this disc), and Jackson arranges them into the substantial four-movement shape that the title “symphony” implies: a mostly brisk opening movement (though Jackson’s setting of the short third poem is unexpectedly slow, investing the text with a hushed expectancy that is special indeed); a nocturnal slow movement (three texts, all late nineteenth- or early twentieth-century); scherzo (a single text, twenty-first-century, with a setting to match its wry blend of humour and social commentary); and synoptic finale. But a “choral symphony” implies virtuosity as well (the term is arguably parallel to “Concerto for Orchestra” rather than to the usual instrumental “Symphony”), and—like all the works here—the piece is beautifully tailored to the Singers’ individual and corporate abilities, whether in the breathtaking precision of the first and third movements, the weaving of solo lines with the slow movement’s closing chorale, or the gradually increasing activity of the finale as it moves from the central “Londinium” episode inexorably towards its jubilant conclusion.

Ending as it began, with a bright burst of E flat major, this first piece written after Jackson’s fiftieth birthday is still identifiably the work of the twenty-five-year-old composer of Angelorum. Like the individual pieces which comprise it, Jackson’s prolific output is both animated and contemplative, a dance around a still centre. It stands still, and it moves.

from notes by John Fallas © 2014


Jackson (G): Airplane Cantata & other choral works
SIGCD381Download only


Movement 1: Quite quick  London, thou art of townes A per se
Track 11 on SIGCD381 [7'42] Download only
Movement 2: Slow  The Thames nocturne of blue and gold
Track 12 on SIGCD381 [10'08] Download only
Movement 3: Quick  My
Track 13 on SIGCD381 [4'16] Download only
Movement 4: Quite quick  Let others chant a country praise
Track 14 on SIGCD381 [4'42] Download only

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