Works ranging from 16th-century Italy to a new commission explore the dialogue between Heaven and Earth in this sumptuous, sometimes meditative programme, inspired by Lassus’s Easter hymn Aurora lucis rutilat. Lassus uses vivid imagery to describe the rejoicing of heaven and earth as Christ surges forth victoriously from the grave.
The earliest work in the programme is Palestrina’s beautiful Missa Papae Marcelli, written to be sung at the Council of Trent, where the use of polyphonic music in the Catholic Church was in debate. Legend has it that its simple, declamatory style convinced Cardinal Borromeo that polyphony could be intelligible, and that such music was too beautiful to ban from the Church.
Two ground-breaking, 21st-century works and a world premiere complete the programme: Peteris Vasks’ Plainscapes is a vocalise masterpiece accompanied by solo violin and cello that creates a haunting impression of a Baltic landscape, “a place where one can see the horizon and look at the stars in the sky”, whilst Alec Roth’s Stargazer is a playful, expressive and occasionally macabre rumination on the stars and how humans view outer space.
Bringing us right up to the present day, The Handful is proud to have commissioned a new work by the young award-winning composer Alexander Thacker. Let Earth and Heaven Combine explores the paradox of humanity and heaven being connected through the incarnation of Christ as a human.