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Hugh Wood

Publisher: Chester Music

An Epithalamion, Or Mariage Song (2015)
Text Writer
John Donne
Chester Music Ltd
Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble
Year Composed
20 Minutes
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Programme Note
Hugh Wood An Epithalamion, Or Mariage Song (2015)
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Wood is at bottom an instinctive composer, with a romantic heart. That was proved by the new piece in the main evening concert, where the orchestra was joined by the BBC Symphony Chorus and soprano Rebecca Bottone. Entitled Epithalamion, it set a long fascinating poem by John Donne which mused on a royal wedding, with a typical mixture of high-flown metaphysics and sly earthiness. The music reflected that, sometimes surging up with physical urgency, sometimes poised in rapt stillness.
Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph,23/07/2015
The best passages – such as the exuberant opening, the modest, throwaway ending and their bright orchestral embroidery – are beautifully judged.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian,23/07/2015
Wood’s setting of most of John Donne’s “marriage song” (written for Princess Elizabeth Stuart and Frederick, Count Paltine, wedded on St Valentine’s Day 1613) is a splendid addition to the choral repertoire in its exuberance, austere beauty, ecstasy and confiding, its warm and rich expression confirming Wood (born 1932) as an English Romantic, such a varied aesthetic rolled into this one piece that recalls most of all William Walton (such as his In Honour of the City of London), Michael Tippett (broadly) and a brief glimpse of Britten’s Spring Symphony. One might even oblige with Parry and Stanford as further references, but Wood isn’t into parody or pastiche, let alone plagiarism, for there is freshness and clarity here, music that is instantly accessible and likeable yet also with lasting value. At just over twenty minutes Epithalamion is concise, and nowhere more so than at the very end with a sweeping upward curve and emphatic finality to close this very persuasive setting.
Colin Anderson, Classical Source,22/07/2015
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