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A Congress of Passions (medium voice, oboe, piano), Op.62

Category Vocal
Composed 1993-1994
Duration (approx) 11 minutes

Medium voice, oboe, piano

Text Author(s) Sappho
Text Language Greek

Also version for medium voice, oboe, 14 strings, Op.63a.

Related Works A Congress of Passions (medium voice, oboe, strings), Op.62a
Publisher Faber Music

Michael Chance, Nicholas Daniel and Julius Drake with funds provided by South East Arts.

First performance 20 March 1994
Venue Cranbrook School, Kent
Soloists / Players Michael Chance (counter-tenor), Nicholas Daniel (oboe), Julius Drake, (piano)
Review Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 13 June 2001

The piece is impressive, strong in its brevity and aphoristic tension. Lush strings – the Britten Sinfonia sound is very opulent – and ricocheting oboe phrases encapsulate the “bitter sweetness” of desire. The “fire that races benath the skin” cues a twitchy, obsessive blues. The cantata ends with a famous meditation on the setting moon and Pleiades. The strings unfold a sequence of shivery Bergian chords, and voice and oboe briefly entwine before the singer is left in solitude. Throughout, Chance’s voice hovers in a world beyond gender, perhaps acknowledging that we at long last accept a universality of emotion in Sappho that transcends orientation.