Melanie Challenger, inspired by and adapted from the Cross Correspondences and the writings of Frederick Myers and Geraldine Cummins (E)
3(I*,II=picc;III=picc&afl).3.2(II=bcl).dbcl.3(II,III=dbn)-4.3(I=picc.tpt).3.1-timp.perc(5):SD/3susp.cym(lg)/handbells/guiro/2BD(med,lg)/tam-t/xyl/vib/Javanese gongs/crot/4tom-t/bell plates/t.bells/whip/glsp/2tgl(sm,lg)/3conga/2marimba(5-octave)/2anvil/tamb/bongo/5paint tins(lg)/2mark tree/rainstick/steel pans-2harp-pft-strings
*requires B foot extension
Boosey & Hawkes
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Mark Stone, baritone / BBC Philharmonic / Exaudi / Manchester Chamber Choir / Juanjo Mena
"The Immortal delves into the creepy Late Victorian world of seances, as revealed by John Gray’s book The Immortalization Commission – particularly the strange events at the start of the 20th century when mediums in different countries began writing down communications from the recently deceased psychical researcher Frederic Myers. He guarded an awful secret throughout his life: his love for a young married woman who had cut her throat and then drowned herself.
"…a blazingly original oratorio… If the purpose of art is to pose existential questions, then the piece is concerned with what might be the most fundamental question of all: is anybody there? The paranormal effects Simpson conjures from the expansive forces are genuinely eerie. [The baritone solo] is buffeted through the choral maelstrom like a sceptical anti-Gerontius, who, instead of being eased towards purgatory by a team of spiritual assistants, sends panicked, fragmentary transmissions indicating terror at the lack of a welcoming committee."
"Challenger’s stream-of-consciousness libretto weaves together the anguished ‘automated’ ramblings supposedly dictated posthumously by Myers with elliptical details of this tragic affair. However, Simpson’s multi-layered, swirling score transcends these specifics to evoke the philosophical turmoil of humanity in general as we cling to such concepts as love, soul and immortality when the cold materialism of modern science suggests that such things are tricks of the sentimental mind."