ROSS HARRIS (b.1945): Symphony No. 6 : “Last Letter”, Face for Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra. Allison Bell (soprano), Fiona Campbell (mezzo), Henry Choo (tenor), Joel Amosa (baritone), Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra; Giordano Bellincampi, Antony Hermus (Face).

Catalogue Number: 12W053

Label: Naxos

Reference: 8.573994

Format: CD

Price: $11.98

Description: Harris has repeatedly used symphonic form as a vehicle for important, stirring, often tragedy-laden ideas concerning subjects such as war, suffering and death (see 04N010, 06P010, and 07S008). The Sixth carries on this tradition, setting poems by prominent New Zealand writer, and frequent Harris collaborator, Vincent O’Sullivan, which deal with the voices of women speaking - explicitly or at least probably to their mothers - in despairing tones from beyond the grave. The title, and the first poem, concern an Iranian woman, writing to her mother before her execution for killing her rapist. These dark texts are exquisitely set to gentle, lyrical, if nocturnal music in chamber textures; orchestral interludes separating the poems give vent to the feelings that the composer, and the listener, experience at these injustices; furious anger, unease, agitation and horror, expressed in a harsher musical vocabulary. Face, written around the centenary of WWI, is a large-scale cantata dealing with a less recognised facet of "the pity of war"; the disfigured servicemen, carrying their torment with them for the rest of their lives. Another collaboration with O’Sullivan, its format resembles that of the Symphony; rich, solemn, gorgeously tonal choral textures that recall Britten or Vaughan Williams comment on the universal tragedy of the subject, while abrasive, explosive, furiously protesting orchestral or tutti interludes, stretching tonality, discordantly blare out the hidden horrors of disfigurement in war. Eloquent, neo-romantic movements for solo voices and orchestra, movingly evoke personal experiences in the tradition of Wilfred Owen's heartbreaking poem "Disabled". Texts included. Allison Bell (soprano), Fiona Campbell (mezzo), Henry Choo (tenor), Joel Amosa (baritone), Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra; Giordano Bellincampi, Antony Hermus (Face).

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