Compozitori contemporani: Karl Jenkins (b 1944) - The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace (Benedictus & Better is Peace)
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London Philharmonic Orchestra, Karl Jenkins (conductor), National Youth Choir of Great Britain, Mike Brewer (conductor); http://www.trilulilu.ro/compozitori-contemporani-karl-jenkins-b-1944-the-a?playlist=colectie-suntare-zonga&ref=colectie
Karl Jenkins was born and grew up on the Gower Peninsula, the son of a local organist and choirmaster. He studied music at Cardiff University and then at the Royal Academy of Music. Originally an oboist, he took to the saxophone and established himself early on as a jazz musician. He then introduced the oboe as a jazz instrument.
The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace was commissioned by the Royal Armouries to mark the transition from one millennium to another. It reflects on the passing of ‘the most war-torn and destructive century in human history’ and looks forward in hope to a more peaceful future. The Armed Man is dedicated to the victims of the Kosovo conflict, whose tragedy was unfolding as it was being composed. It was first performed in 2000 by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, conducted by Jenkins himself.
The texts were chosen jointly by the composer and the then Master of the Royal Armouries, Guy Wilson. A framework for the work is provided by the traditional Catholic Mass and includes settings of the Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Benedictus, some of which have become popular self-standing pieces to be heard, for instance, on ClassicFM. But what makes the work distinctive are the lyrics drawn from many parts of the world and from diverse religions and cultures. The music too is cosmopolitan in its inspiration.
This movement is introduced by a serenely beautiful cello solo. The tune is taken up by the choir to words from the Latin Mass: ‘Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord’. Peace leads to rejoicing but after an explosive Hosanna the mood of serenity returns.
Mvt.13 Better is Peace
The substantial final movement begins by returning to the music from the beginning adjusted for words expressing a totally different sentiment, taken from Thomas Malory: ‘Better is peace than always war’. The choir then return to the words l’Homme Armé presented as a short fugue before offering ‘Better is peace’ in a slightly different form. This leads by an orchestral interlude to the Millennial music set to the words of Tennyson’s new year poem.
The ‘Mass for peace’ ends, however, on a higher plane with a hymn using words from the Book of Revelation. The brass and percussion are suddenly silent and the hymn is sung unaccompanied. ‘God shall wipe away all tears, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, and there shall be no more pain.
From Notes by Stuart Brown