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Robert Hugill - Requiem 'For Butti: In mememoriam Robert Buttimore'

FifteenB/Paul Ayres, Carl Jackson - organ
Chelsea Festival, 22nd June 2000

Robert Hugill's Requiem is, from its very opening, firmly anchored in the glorious polyphony of the English Renaissance: lines derived from plainsong, the modal flavouring of passages in conjunct motion, and the odd spicy false relation combine to mean that it would not be unreasonable to place this new work in the tradition of Vaughan Williams. To RVW, the music of the English Golden Age had as much power to move 20th Century audiences as when it was written some 450 years ago and at the première of his Requiem Hugill emphasised his own indebtedness to 16th Century English composers by interspersing the movements with organ works by Tallis, Byrd, Taverner and their contemporaries. Hugill's music is also, however, highly individual, combining austerity with a rich variety of expression. The forthright Christe Eleison, for example, contrasts with the sublime and comforting Hosanna and this in turn suddenly brings to mind no lesser work than Gabriel Fauré's own Requiem. While the Dies Irae opens with the plainchant used by Berlioz, Rachmaninov and all the rest, however, Hugill's extended setting remains indebted to Renaissance models as dense, agitated passages of polyphony wreathe around cantus-firmus-like long-note ideas. From a practical point of view, good choirs will find it eminently singable. At its première at St. Mary's, Cadogan Street, Chelsea, on 22nd June 2000, it was performed, persuasively by FifteenB and special mention must be made of the soprano soloists, Felicity Ford and Rowena Wells, whose ethereal singing was particularly appropriate at the most poignant moments.
John Humphries

British Music Society Newsletter 87 September 2000

Listen to it!
Live recordings from the concert:- Lux Aeterna
In Paradisum

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