‘Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and yet cannot remain silent’, wrote Victor Hugo in 1864. Half a century later, his words had never felt more pertinent. Every composer writing during World War I found a unique way, through their music, to describe and protest against the horrors that were tearing civilization apart.
Created in the depth of morbidity, Debussy’s parting musical gift is a subtle, dignified and heroic celebration of youth and joie de vivre. A sense of patriotism in the war years links Debussy with the foremost Moravian composer of the day, Leoš Janá?ek. Ottorino Respighi was only in his thirties when the war broke out. His 1917 Sonata for violin and piano is a work of Romance written in the time of hate, a reminder that the past and the future remain beacons of hope in desperate times.
Commissioned for this recital programme to reflect on the centenary of The Great War from our own times, Kenneth Hesketh’s Inscrizione, derivata, subtitled ‘A lie to the Dying’, is a quasi-meditation on the dying man, his anxious thoughts and the spasms of his failing heart being weaved conspicuously into a narrative of disquieting melancholy.