A STATE FUNERAL
BASIL RAMSEY listens to music for Lord Nelson
<< Continued from page 1
The Church of England's Burial Service was embodied in the Office of
Evensong for the ceremony at St Paul's, and this inspired decision gave
music a splendid place in the proceedings. The list of composers was impeccable
for the time: Purcell, Handel, Croft, Attwood, Greene, and Haydn for the
closing Te Deum [listen - track 31, 00:20 - 01:10].
Yet again, one of those unexpected twists of fortune gave Thomas Attwood
- the only English composer to have received some tuition from Mozart -
the chance to write a noble Dirge for the organ as the coffin was returned
to the catafalque under the dome [listen - track 23,
0000 - 0100]. Its simplicity is not from weakness but from a power of
creativity uplifting simple things. By the same token, Purcell's sublime
simplicity in the following Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts
inhabits much the same dimension.
Whilst the shattering acoustic of Wren's masterpiece is overwhelming
and almost unique, the decision to use the resources of Portsmouth Cathedral
for this recording links the relevance of the naval seaport that still houses
Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, and provides an easier ambience for
recording. It is not every day that one of England's smaller cathedrals
has the opportunity to participate in bringing to our ears such an historic
occasion as this. They sing with relish, and understanding, and only the
busy part-writing towards the end of Haydn's Te Deum appears ready
to swallow the trebles.
Copyright © 25 June 2000 Basil Ramsey,
Eastwood, Essex, UK
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