Live recording of Frederick Viner's 'Justorum Animae'
The work was premiered in September 2018 at Eton College, where Viner is currently Composer in Residence, by Eton College Chapel Choir, for whom it was written.
For Messiaen, E-major had strong religious connotations, representing a hymnic praise of God. The French master has strongly influenced my music of late, so I thought it only natural to set 'Justorum Animae' using this supposedly theological key. The piece begins with a unison E, however the ethereal chord that subsequently unfolds – marked 'lontano' (as if from a distance) – is ambiguous and decidedly non-tonic. In fact, the only E-major we ever hear is the last chord of the piece, setting 'pace' – peace. Thus, this elusive tonic represents the destination for the music; the haven for the titular 'souls of the righteous' who must first endure the 'torment of malice', as depicted by tumultuous episodes in the middle of the piece. Once bathed in this final, tranquil sonority, the music gradually dies away, aided by the direction 'al niente' (to nothing).
Formed in 1976, the mixed voice choir has a repertoire ranging from the 10th to the 21st century and through an ongoing collaboration with JAM has premiered a number of major new works.
(1 May 2019)