Programme Notes – Michael and All Angels (1995)

Michael and All Angels in mini-cantata for narrator, horn, chamber choir and organ with a text take from the Book of Revelations from the New Testament in the Bible. The first line: ‘There Was War in Heaven’ is reflected by chaotic wordless choral melismas and grindingly dissonant organ chords. The horn makes its baleful presence felt with jagged, ungainly wide leaps. After a while the piece gathers more of a forward momentum reaching a climax with a return of the opening chaos before order is restored with a thunderous A on the organ and the choir singing words for the first time: ‘And the Great Dragon was Thrown Down.’ The mood now calms with the description of the angel ascending from the rising of the sun. The final part of the work is a passacaglia which builds in confidence and triumph as the narrator describes ‘A Great Multitude Standing Before the Throne.’ The end of the work is a tireless blaze of joy in A major: ‘For Ever and Ever.’