Saturday, 6 June 2009


“Death is a delightful hiding place for weary men.”- Herodotus

For Song Saturday, a movement form Nicholas Lens’ Requiem, “Flamma Flamma”. This is large-scale work which is structured to echo the form of a Requiem Mass, and is set for a classical orchestra and chorus, with six soloists, but it also has elements of ethnic music from around the world, especially the use of the "Bulgarian Voices," a folk-based characteristic ethnic ensemble .

The text is by Herman Portocarero, who chose Latin for its singability, for its direct association with Roman Catholic ritual, and for its sense of timelessness and universality. The composer has written that to him the only thing that makes life bearable is death, or, rather the knowledge that death will bring it to an end. This insight, he says, makes it possible to enjoy life fully. He uses fire as a metaphor for death, and also as the agent that cleanses. He conceived this work as a kind of ritual that united the European classical culture with non-European cultures' magic. The classical soloists represent "six gods or the higher conscience of Man." The ethnic elements revitalise the weariness of European culture.

The text is deliberately shaped to echo the structure of the liturgical Mass for the Death. The instrumental soloists are a player of koto and bass koto, a player of three kinds of flute, a player of oboe and English horn, a trumpeter, four violinists, two percussionists, and a keyboard player. The work includes several other ethnic instruments and a notable use of electronic sounds.

The piece I have chosen is “Deliciae Meae” (My Sweet Love), with Claron McFadden, Laverne Williams, Gary Boyce, Zeger Vandersterne, Henk Lauwers, Macello Rosca:


Deliciae meae,
Venustas tua
Ipsi morti super est.

Ultimum lavabo
Corpus nudum tuum
Lacrimis meis.

Pyra non altius
Amoris mei igne
Ardere potest.

Invideo et odi
Servos funebres quibus
Te tangere licet.

Post me
Procus nullus
Nisi mors
Te possidet.


My sweet love,
Your beauty
Even through death still shines.

A last time I shall wash
Your naked body
With my tears.

The pyre cannot burn higher
Than the fire
Of my love.

I envy and I hate
The undertakers men
Who are allowed to touch you.

After me,
No lover
But death
Will know you.

1 comment:

  1. This was so pleasant this morning as I watched dawn and sipped coffee that I played it twice. And may play it again.