tract for Ash Wednesday (L)
St John's College, Cambridge
Margaret Faultless, violin / Choir of St John's College, Cambridge / Andrew Nethsingha
Choral level of difficulty: 2 (5 greatest)
Another unusual combination of solo instrument with choir as with A child is born also written for (or first performed by) St John’s Cambridge. The mood is perfect for the start of Lent, serious, thoughtful and thought-provoking. The violin’s different roles – background arpeggiando figures, foreground strong pizzicato chords and longer solo leading into the final repeat of the first section gives the piece a sense of development through its rondo shape but ultimately leaving the choir with the last word.
The choral writing here is undemanding although the singers need to be well-prepared for the start of the final reprise following the violin’s solo. But ending on a D and the first chord being an open D-A-D chord the problems are more of confidence than of a lack of aural information.
Stylistically, there are no surprises here and devotees of MacMillan’s music will recognize the familiar fingerprints (grace notes, chant, ornamentation) and know how they are dealt with.
Repertoire note by Paul Spicer