The Lazarus Requiem by Patrick Hawes is the composer's largest work to date. Conceived by the composer's brother Andrew (a priest and poet), the work uses traditional Latin text from the Requiem Mass together with an account in English of the raising of Lazarus. The English text, derived from St. John's Gospel, is in a new translation by Andrew and there is an original poem at the climax of the work entitled Jesus Wept. The sections in English, referred to as tableaux, alternate with the traditional Requiem movements.
The work begins with an orchestral Elegy for Lazarus. This depicts the dying man and sets the scene for the first tableau where we are informed “a certain man was ill”. Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, send for Jesus and the drama of the miracle unfolds. The main characters within this drama are sung by the soloists: tenor (Christ), soprano (Mary) and mezzo-soprano (Martha). There is a small part for baritone (Thomas), and a semi-chorus narrates the events, with the tenors and basses taking on the role of the disciples.
The sound worlds of the tableaux and the Latin movements are quite different. The Requiem, Kyrie, Sanctus etc. use the full resources of both choir and orchestra whereas the tableaux, as well as using semi-chorus, are characterised by muted strings, harp and baritone saxophone. Christ's solos see the addition of the four horns. There are moments where the two sound worlds cross. Most notably, the Benedictus takes the form of a soprano solo sung by Mary, and at the climax of the miracle when Christ exclaims, “Unbind him! Loose him! Let him go!” the mutes are removed from the strings, and the full orchestra interjects with the concluding section of this tableau. The final movement of the work is the Lux Aeterna, for choir and orchestra, together with the two female soloists.
Preview the score: