All of Elgar’s noble and melancholy sentiments can be found in his only song cycle which also deals with the fragility of man when confronted by the elemental forces of the sea. Built upon five poems by different authors, each offering a different response to the ocean: its beauty, temptations, symbolism and dangers, with Sea Pictures, Elgar achieved a remarkable synthesis of voice and orchestra. The emotional range of the poems is very broad and critically tests the dramatic and vocal powers of the soloist. The orchestral accompaniment complements the singer to a remarkable degree with subtle colours that evoke the sea in many moods.

Over its lengthy gestation the Requiem emerged as a deeply personal musical memorial. Brahms was innovative in his combination of styles and use of vernacular German, so different from the long-standing Latin mass for the dead. Baptized and raised Lutheran, Brahms wrote his own non-liturgical libretto based on passages from Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible. He chose scripture offering consolation, reassurance and comfort to the living in a strong affirmation of personal hope, love, courage and anticipation of joy.

Works and composers

Elgar Sea Pictures
Brahms A German Requiem

In memory of

Canon & Mrs Ivor Jeffrey-Machin