Commissioned by Anonymous 4 with funds provided by Abendmusik: Lincoln Fine Arts Series, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • SSAA (solo voices)
  • 7 min

Programme Note

This astonishingly beautiful six-minute a cappella piece for four voices, echoing Max’s lovely Cirencester carols of the 1960s, is a setting of a poem from one of George Mackay Brown’s last collections, Following a Lark.

The work was written for the Lincoln Fine Arts Series and premiered in 2002 at the First Plymouth Church, Lincoln, Nebraska by Anonymous Four, whose pure and perfect renderings of (amongst others) Hildegard of Bingen need no introduction. There’s a medieval charmed innocence about Max’s Christmas carol too, as it evokes, in Brown’s gentle, haiku-like lines, the Three Wise Men, who – full of awe – journey to find Jesus’s crib (‘the horses grazed among snowdrops’… ‘a midwinter inn’) through what sounds suspiciously like an Orkney landscape.
© Roderic Dunnett