• Anthony Payne
  • Reflections In The Sea Of Glass (1983)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)
  • organ
  • 15 min

Programme Note

In 1977 I wrote a work for chorus and organ, THE SEA OF GLASS, which attempted to come to terms with the fact that man's psychology and the nature of the cosmos ensures that catastrophe and peace always flow in inevitable sequence. We must feel at one with this natural law and learn to embrace it. The work used words from the Old Testament propehts, alternating visions on unearthly peace and descriptions of almost cosmic disaster, including the famous passage concerning the Seven Angels of the Apocalypse which prompted the use of the number seven as a prime generator of proportions and rhythms.

The central section of this work was a big organ fantasia which provided a purely musical commentary on some of the basic material. In REFLECTIONS IN THE SEA OF GLASS, which was written in the Summer of 1983, I took this section and constructed around it further developments and extensions of material from the choral work. There are three different types of muic which alternate in the opening section: running sequavers and staccato chords, a wide ranging melodic line which is increasingly decorated with two-part counterpoint at each appearance, and quite sostenuto seven-part harmony (representing the vision of the sea of glass from Revelations) which remains calm, regardless of the increasingly intense manifestations that surround it. The middle section represents the culmination of the melodic developments that occurred in the opening section, and it is followed by a toccata into which the 'sea of glass' sostenuto harmony erupts, at last fortissimo - calmness triumphant. The work closes with the utmost virtuosity.

The processes in REFLECTIONS IN THE SEA OF GLASS are purely musical, and yet I hope that something of the visionary qualities of its ancestor have remained to focus spiritual meaning.

Anthony Payne, December 1983