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Voices from the Sea and other pieces by John Hawkins. © 2003 Meridian Records

The substantial work in this retrospective recital of music by John Hawkins (born 1949 and in the early 70s a student with Elisabeth Lutyens and Malcolm Williamson) is the song cycle Voices from the Sea for tenor and string orchestra, a live recording of its first performance in 1985. The six poems were chosen from an anthology of entries for a poetry competition organised by the Seafarers Education Service. The settings demonstrate a distinct sympathy with words, an alert ear for distinctive harmonic subtlety, and a polished sense of invention. In 'A Laugh in the Wind', the poet has been a shocked witness: 'One of the lads was killed today/crushed like a rabbit that runs in the way/of the traffic ...' [listen, track 5, 0:55-1:50]. In the final song of the set, the poet entreats us to treasure memories to aid our return: 'Up the stairs of Heaven we'll see the constellations swing ...' [listen -- track 6, 1:29-2:24].

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Copyright © 31 December 2003 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


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