• John McCabe
  • Time Remembered (1973)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Malvern Concert Club

  • fl.cl/hn.tpt/pf/vn.vc
  • soprano
  • 25 min
  • Sir Walter Raleigh, Lionel Johnson, Venantius Fortunatus (trans. Waddell) Lord Herbert & Thomas More

Programme Note

Even such is Time (Walter Raleigh)
In Memory (Lionel Johnson)
Time that is fallen (Venantius Fortunatus)
Elegy over a Tomb (Lord Herbert of Cherbury)
Condemned and doomed to die (Sir Thomas More)
Even such is Time (Raleigh)

The quotation from Swinburne which gives this Chamber Cantata for soprano and seven instruments its title indicates the two interlinked themes with which it deals - time and memory. The work was commissioned, with the aid of funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain, by Malvern Concert Club, to celebrate their 70th anniversary, and the first performance was given at one of the Club's concerts in 1973 by Felicity Palmer and the Nash Ensemble, conducted by the composer. Two of the songs are in Latin (the settings of Venantius and Sir Thomas More), the rest being in English - the ensemble consists of solo soprano plus flute, clarinet, horn, trumpet, piano, violin, and cello.

Raleigh's poem Even such is Time frames the work, the two settings (of which the second is a slight variation of the first) acting from the formal point of view as a prelude and postlude respectively. The first of these settings is followed by an increasingly agitated instrumental piece, and then a setting of words from Lionel's Johnson's In Memory, more peaceful and nostalgic in feeling. The scherzo-like third song, from Venantius Fortunatus, reflects the passing of the fleeting hours, and this mood gives way to a more elegiac feeling (the words here taken from Lord Herbert of Cherbury's Elegy over a Tomb).

Sir Thomas More's Latin poem (Damnati ac morituri) forms a fiercely defiant dance of death, culminating in an instrumental climax and then a return to the opening of the work. It closes with a passage referring in a slightly altered way to two great masterpieces closely associated with the Malvern area, Vaughan Williams's Five Mystical Songs (first performed at the 1911 Three Choirs Festival, Worcester) and the First Symphony of Elgar, the founder of the Malvern Concert Club.

© Copyright 1991 by John McCabe