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Absolon, my son

First line:
When David heard that Absolon was slain
composer
2003
author of text
Samuel 18: 33

 
Absolon, my son was written for the choir of Girton College, Cambridge, during the term when I was their stand-in musical director. We performed a concert which included When David heard by Tomkins. I had always found this, and the Weelkes setting, to be very powerful pieces. Both were written in the first half of the 17th century. The words are as powerful as ever, and I wanted to make a more contemporary version, with a slightly more romantic approach and using more powerful harmonies which were not at the disposal of either Weelkes or Tomkins (well, not if they wanted to keep their jobs!).

The loss of a child must be devastating. David's army had won a great victory in battle, yet he could not even congratulate them, being preoccupied by the loss of his own son. He went away and wept. I have tried to paint a picture of his emotions during this outpouring. First of all, quietly as he takes the news in—then gradually the full impact of it hits him and he gets more and more distraught and angry; he cries out that he wishes he himself had died in Absolon's place. Finally, after this tirade, I picture him in the corner of the room—his energy spent—he can do no more than repeat the words 'Absolon, my son'.

from notes by Jonathan Rathbone © 2005

Recordings

Anthems for the 21st century
SIGCD059Download only

Details

Track 2 on SIGCD059 [5'37] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD059 track 2

Artists
ISRC
GB-LLH-05-05902
Duration
5'37
Recording date
20 February 2005
Recording venue
Tonbridge School Chapel, Kent, United Kingdom
Recording producer
John H West
Recording engineer
Limo Hearn
Hyperion usage
  1. Anthems for the 21st century (SIGCD059)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: May 2005
    Download only
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