Francis Pott: The Cloud of Unknowing – Musical Opinion
Francis Pott’s large-scale “Humanist Requiem” as it may be termed, of 2005, for Tenor, Chorus and Organ, fulfilled a commission marking the Vasari Singers’ quarter-century, combining texts articulating the composer’s sincerity in conveying his ‘personal revulsion at the hollow eulogies of Western leaders mired in blood no less than those they would condemn’ relative to those on-going conflicts threatening the world in the 21st Century’s first decade.
Such sentiments resonate strongly with many people and Pott’s deeply felt, directly expressed score has considerable emotional impact. The juxtaposition of liturgical and non-liturgical texts reflects such examples as Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem and Britten’s War Requiem. Musically, Pott’s language will not offend either composer’s admirers, nor those familiar with the language of Maunder, Stainer, Parry, Stanford, Elgar or Ireland, for his work has clearly been irrigated from their examples, subsumed into a fluent, immediately expressive style.
The composer could hardly wish for a better performance than this. The Vasari Singers’ quality and commitment is of the highest, with James Gilchrist an unfailingly outstanding soloist. Jeremy Filsell accompanies superbly, and much praise is due to Jeremy Backhouse, who secures a performance of compelling artistry. The recording quality is admirable. The composer provides detailed notes.