The Magnification of the Virgin
This piece was designed as a companion but also a foil to a programme of sacred music by Machaut and Stravinsky. While presenting the text of the Magnificat in Latin, and borrowing the traditional canticle tone used in Dufay’s 8-part setting, it pictures the Annunciation not in terms of liturgy but as an uninhibited celebration of flesh and spirit made one. The piece therefore opens before themagnificat proper, setting the scene of unmarried girls singing quietly while at work in the fields; suddenly Mary is infused with spirit, she is unaccountably with child, and life will be transformed not only for her but for all mankind. What else can she do but sing out her heart for joy and astonishment?
The choice of entirely female voices and the counterpointing of operatic and sacred vocal styles highlights Mary’s diverse emotions and roles: childlike, womanly, humble, proud, jubilant, or in a trance (when she envisages “generation after generation”).
..the first premiere to result from BCMG’s Sound Investment Scheme. The Investors had good reason to congratulate themselves. Poole’s piece is an energetic and innovative response to the text of the Magnificat..
First performed by BCMG conducted by Andrew Parrot at the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham on 9 February 1992.