RONALD CORP (b.1951): Fields of the Fallen for Baritone, String Quartet, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn and Double Bass, Dawn on the Somme for Baritone and String Quartet.
Catalogue Number: 05R070
Label: Stone Records
Description: Fields of the Fallen is a substantial song cycle setting both English and German poets who died in World War I. The settings are poignant and moving, tender and elegiac, and this sets the tone for the work as a whole, though several of the ensemble-only interludes heighten the intensity through darkly ominous ostinato figuration and a powerfully atmospheric sense of impending tragedy. The choice of texts is thought-provoking, contrasting 'the pity of war' with the nowadays less fashionable attempts to find justification or at least meaning in the slaughter on both sides of the conflict. The work's gentle atmosphere of remembrance owes more to the English pastoral tradition than the dramatic vehemence of Britten's War Requiem (which is, however, somewhat recalled in the shared Wilfred Owen 'Anthem for Doomed Youth', with its limping, crippled march). The idiom is very tonal with pungent dissonances, the vocal writing masterly, the instrumentation highly effective. Dawn on the Somme commemorates the battle in the words of poets who were present, including Gurney, in touching first-person accounts of the tragedy and hopelessness of the bitter battle, framed by a prelude and fading epilogue for strings. English and German-English texts. Stephan Loges (bass-baritone), Maggini Quartet and members of the New London Orchestra.