LAMENTATION AND PROPHECY 《哀歌‧預言》
Max Reger (1873 – 1916)
Requiem Op. 144b
Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886)
Via Crucis (“Stations of the Cross”), S.53
James Boznos (b. 1969)
Cantata No. 2, Nevu’ah “Prophecy” (World Premiere*)
*Commissioned by The Hong Kong Bach Choir in 2015 with sponsorship from CASH Music Fund.
*此作品於2015年由The Hong Kong Bach Choir委約，費用由香港作曲家及作詞家協會轄下的「CASH音樂基金」贊助。
James Boznos “OZNO”, Composer
Samantha Chong, Mezzo-Soprano
Mary Mei Loc Wu, Piano
Emas Au, Piano
The Hong Kong Bach Choir
Jerome Hoberman, Music Director & Conductor
Via crucis (completed in 1878) is a key work of Franz Liszt’s late period, along with such solo piano masterworks as Nuages gris and the Bagatelle sans tonalité. Like them, it was at first thought to be so radical in style that the composer’s sanity was questioned, but it is now recognized as a visionary, if austere, expression of musical genius.
The Stations of the Cross are a series of 14 images of Jesus placed around the walls of Roman Catholic churches for the purpose of meditation and prayer, which recount major events of the day of his crucifixion (the Passion) as recounted in the four Gospels. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Via Dolorosa,’ they recall the actual Via Dolorosa [Road of Sorrows] in Jerusalem, on which Jesus is traditionally said to have trod from the palace of Pontius Pilate where he was sentenced, to the place of his execution and burial.
Liszt had always been a devoted Catholic and, in 1865, took minor orders of the Church, afterwards being known as ‘Abbé Liszt.’ Several of his later works pay homage to his religious faith. The place of Via crucis among his works is equivalent to that of the St. John and St. Matthew Passions among the works of Bach. Liszt actually incorporated the ‘Head’ chorale that recurs throughout Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in his Via crucis, as well as such frequently-set hymn texts as the Vexilla Regis and Stabat Mater.
While Liszt’s piano works are central to the virtuoso piano repertoire, and his pioneering symphonic poems are frequently heard on orchestral programmes, his sacred choral works – and, in particular, Via crucis – are only rarely performed. Our upcoming concert will provide an unusual opportunity for the Hong Kong public to experience a little-known but highly personal side of an enormously influential and beloved composer.
Like Liszt, Max Reger was a virtuoso soloist (as an organist as well as a pianist) and later a conductor, besides being a leading and extraordinarily prolific composer. The comparison is particularly apt, as Reger’s mature harmonic style was heavily influenced by Liszt, while structurally he followed Brahms in focusing largely on abstract forms. His music is thus a meeting-point between the progressive and retrospective strains of late-Romantic music. Like Liszt, too, Reger worshipped Bach, and his works are replete with neo-Bachian counterpoint.
Reger is, arguably, the greatest of all infrequently-performed composers active at the turn of the 20th century. Our upcoming program in November will offer a rare opportunity for audience in Hong Kong to hear one of his finest and most compact works.
The Requiem is among Reger’s final pieces, completed one year before his death in 1916. Like the German Requiem of Brahms, it is non-liturgical and is in German rather than Latin; its text is an eponymous (secular) poem by Friedrich Hebbel (1813-1863). Reger himself created two simultaneous versions of it, one for chorus and orchestra, the other for chorus and piano. He dedicated the work ‘to the memory of the German heroes who fell in the War 1914/15.’ In the end, Reger’s Requiem also became a memorial to its composer, who did not live to hear it performed or see it published.
James Boznos is Principal Timpanist of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, an active professional composer and a member of the Composers and Publishers Society of Hong Kong (CASH). His Cantata No. 1, Anesti, composed following his first visit to Israel, was commissioned by the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble (NME) and CASH for a performance in April 2012 by The Hong Kong Bach Choir and NME that juxtaposed new works with the Responsoria of Carlo Gesualdo, though scheduling difficulties required its première to be postponed. It received its first, acclaimed performance in April 2014.
The Hong Kong Bach Choir has now commissioned Mr. Boznos to create, in effect, a sequel to Anesti, a work that, like it, will combine voices, instruments and electronics, set to a text that quotes a variety of Biblical verses on the subjects of God’s power and glory, war, peace and blessing, as a mirror of the universality of human experience. The work is in five sections, performed in a single unbroken span whose trajectory leads toward hopefulness.
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