John Poole, BBC Singers - Giles Swayne: Cry

Wednesday 1st February 1995
John Poole, BBC Singers - Giles Swayne: Cry

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

Reviewed by John Irvine

Without a doubt, this is one of the most remarkable pieces of modern classical music that I have ever come across, a musical exploration of the seven days of creation for 28 amplified and 'processed' solo voices. Although the Genesis story is treated as mythological rather than factual, this is essentially a reverent treatment of God's seven days of creation and rest. At times bizarre, at times deeply moving, there is never a dull moment in this continuous piece lasting 76 minutes, the voices ranging from blocks of choral chords, to discordant mutterings, to bizarre vocal percussion effects augmented by digital processors, to clear, pure soloists bringing relative calm and order in the midst of the ceaseless activity of creation. Swayne's love of African tribal vocal music comes through very clearly in the wordless rhythmic vocalisations which underlie the whole piece. Only three actual words are used - and these only in the final movement - "Adam", "Eve" and "Anima". Riveting on disc, this piece was originally conceived for live performances where a complete sphere of sound was to be created by surrounding an audience with loudspeakers. Nevertheless, it loses none of its power as a recording. A piece of music which is quite stunning and worthy of investigation in a definitive recording by the BBC Singers.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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