Works created in the shadow of the Second World War are brought to light by Barts Choir on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the end of the conflict.
Vaughan Williams had served in the First World War, and Dona nobis pacem is his response both to the horror of that war and the looming threat of another, culminating in the joyous vision of the ending of war through reconciliation between people and nations.
The angels' song ‘Glory to God in the Highest’ which appears here, is also the starting point for the Latin Gloria, set by Poulenc in 1959.
Though a largely tuneful and upbeat work, its more meditative and anguished moments are perhaps coloured by Poulenc's personal experience of the loss of friends.
He had lived through the German occupation of Paris, and the ordeals he went through turned him back to his Catholic faith.
Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, his last major orchestral work, was written in the USA in 1940 while war raged in Europe.
It uses a large orchestra to full and brilliant effect, but like many of his later compositions also reveals a yearning for his native Russia, itself to be invaded within months.
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