This is the premiere recording of George Lloyd's newest choral, symphonic composition. First performed in March of 1996 and recorded soon after, Lloyd writes: "John Donne's A Litany has 28 verses; of these I have used only 12. It is a curious poem and because of some unevenness it tends to be disregarded by lovers of the poet; and yet, there are some wonderfully evocative lines and some thoughts that can astonish. Amongst many rather stilted and conventionally religious ideas one can suddenly come across a line that startles. For example: in the fourth verse beginning "O blessed Trinity" Donne ends the verse with "to know you unnumbered three." Is this a number which is not a number? We are being led into unfamiliar country. I have divided the 12 verses that I have used into four separate movements. The first is a dramatic adagio for the solo baritone and chorus (verses 1 and 2). The second starts quickly for the baritone and chorus (verse 3) but is interrupted by a quiet section for the solo soprano (verse 4). These two ideas are then developed with the chorus joining in. The third movement, for unaccompanied chorus, is a quiet song of thanks to the Virgin (verse 5). The Finale (verses 6 to 12) is the most extended movement of all, going through a variety of moods, some violent, some despairing. In spite of John Donne's catalog of human frailties and disasters there are verses in the poem that give some hope and these are the verses I have used to end the work." There are many today who consider George Lloyd one of the finest composers of the last half of the twentieth century. For those who are not familiar with Lloyd's music, it is full of tunes - big tunes, beautifully developed and brilliantly orchestrated. Its appeal is immediate to the listener.
“The piece was commissioned by the Guildford Choral Society, who sang in its first performance at London's Royal Festival Hall, and who now sing it again on this record with confidence and apparent zest. They are certainly kept busy throughout its four substantial movements, which in the forces used have something in common with Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony The Orchestral score, rich in color and varied in resources, is royally served by the Philharmonic, and with the 83 year old composer in charge, the well-recorded performance carries all the conviction proper to a man who writes as he likes, irrespective of fashion.”