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Adam lay ibounden

First line:
Deo gracias!
author of text
fifteenth century

Once described by The Times as ‘the most accomplished choral composer in Britain’, Giles Swayne, as befits a student of Olivier Messiaen and Harrison Birtwistle, has been an innovator in many genres. His Cry combined voices and electronics; its companion piece Havoc features a ‘continuo group’ of celesta, marimba, Baroque harp and theorbo. Although Swayne clearly delights in experimentation, he has always been determined to communicate with his audiences. Messiaen, he once argued, was ‘one of the few post-war composers who … succeeded in moulding a living musical identity out of the grey language of post-serial atonality’. In his setting of the traditional text, ‘Adam lay ybounden’, Swayne reveals a compositional voice that is both innovative and urgent. The work is scored for two choirs, a solo cello that often broods in its lowest registers, a bass soloist and a solo treble who makes a cameo appearance towards the end. In fact, this was not the first piece by Swayne to pair voices and cello: the reworked version of Stabat mater is similarly scored, and The silent land is set for cello and forty-part choir. In Adam lay ibounden the voices change approach frequently, sometimes singing lyrically, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes percussively—evoking perhaps the West African music that was so influential on Swayne’s development; at times, they seem to hover on the verge of chaos. Adam lay ibounden was commissioned by Andrew Nethsingha and first performed at the 2009 Advent Service at St John’s College.

from notes by Martin Ennis © 2018


Locus iste
Studio Master: SIGCD567Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 13 on SIGCD567 [5'14] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD567 track 13

Recording date
19 July 2018
Recording venue
St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Chris Hazell
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Locus iste (SIGCD567)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: April 2019
    Download only
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