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Pagan Prayer composed by Gareth Farr. For Soprano, Four Trombones & Percussion Quartet. Performance score - Hardback score. Published by Promethean Editions (PO.PE003S).
A furious angel came from the sky like an eagle: indeed she did in this devilishly exuberant score of Gareth Farrs, recently published by Promethean Editions. I loved reading Pagan Prayer (for percussion quartet, soprano, two trombones and two bass trombones), having enjoyed listening to a recording of a Wellington performance some time back. This is raw Farr, energetic, voluptuous, living out the Baudelaire text which so vividly reflects aspects of the dream world and personality of this inventive and original composer.
Four percussionists weave a propelling rhythmic framework which swings away hypnotically mainly at extremes of the dynamic rangelarge blocks are marked fffand underneath four trombones spin a harmonic web which creates something akin to Eschers staircase illusion.
Oh poor soprano, you might feel, sandwiched in such a sonic mass, but one of the joys of this piece is the way the texts fights its way through: the subtle way in which the simplest of melodic ascents is opened out repetitively to allow these pieces of nineteenth-century decadence a new life, and one which so belongs that I could never again read the poems without hearing this ecstatic incantation.
John Elmsly, Canzona, 1997
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