for 8 solo voices
duration 12 minutes
commissioned by the John Alldis Choir
published by Novello and Co. Ltd.
first performed by the John Alldis Choir on 23 March 1969, at the Purcell Room, London.
recorded by the John Alldis Choir on CD Lyrita LY0305 (2008)
originally release on LP Argo ZRG 747 (1973)
Premiere: The Times 24 March 1969:
Justin Connolly's ability to recreate imaginatively sixteenth and seventeenth-century words in today's musical terms was evident in his new work Verse, commissioned by the John Alldis Choir Octet, and given its first performance by them at the Purcell Room last night. Here he has chosen poems by William Drummond and Thomas Traheme, the first emphasizing the brutal side of life, the second hymning the mystery of creation.
The imagery of Drummond's poem is of the hunt and at first its vital rhythms seem inspiriting rather than depressing. Whatever the intention, there is no denying the tour-de-force of the actual writing for the eight voices with words, even syllables broken between them, the hushed breathing of key words and the wide ranging phrases for individual singers. In the Traherne, the lines are longer, the mood of the setting appropriately wondrous, strange, with Connolly matching the humility of the poet.