AMONG the vast quantities of religious music there is cornparatively little that deals with the profound spiritual or colourful lives of the Saints-the Apostles excepted. Indeed, from the present day repertory only such works as Handers and 'Purcell's "Odes to St. Cecelia's Day", Dvorak's "St. Ludmilla" or Egk's "The Temptation of St. Antony" readily spring to mind.
St. Francis of Assisi, however. has now found an advocate in Anthony Milner, whose tryptych 'St. Franck" was given its first London performance at the Festival Hall last week. "The Sermon to the Bird" is obviously its most inventive and effective partscurrying quavers in the strings doubtless depicting the "myriad denizens of the air" rushing to St. Francis.
But the Bach Choir and the London Symphony Orchestra under Dr. Jacques hardly did it justice, although muzziness in the scoring was also to blame. It is a modern work. conceding little to the listener. but its "modernisms" of irregular tempo and dissonances are often derived from the earliest attempts at polyphony. David Gulliver was the eloquent soloist.
Milner's only real concession to the listener comes in "The Canticle", which has a jaunty dotted-rhythm tune, attractive and easily imitated.
IN .comparison, however, Edmund
Rubbra makes many concessions. His violin concerto was given its first performance at the Festival Hall on the following day with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Rudolf Schwarz, and Endre Wolf as the excellent soloist.
It is full of strong. melodious themes, effectively presented but often petering out in their development. The second movement has some extraordinarily beautiful passages. and the work will doubtless become a valuable asset to the violinists' repertory, C.H.