Biography of McCabe John:
John McCabe was born in Huyton, Liverpool, in 1939. He studied composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music, and later in Munich. McCabe has enjoyed a dual career as pianist, and composer. His works cover most of the established forms (with the exception of grand opera). He is also the author of a full-length study of the life and works of Alan Rawsthorne, a composer whose music he admires, and who was a personal friend.
The composer writes: This short work was commissioned by the Evans Arts Trust in memory of the Manchester solicitor George Davies, and is based on two Latin texts, Catullus’s elegy at his brother’s grave and the well-known, anonymous, Hymn for Compline, Te lucis ante terminum. The melodic material is derived from two phrases in the Fifth Pavan from William Byrd’s collection My Lady Nevell’s Book.
Linking the two songs is an interlude for the three instrumentalists (recorder, cello and harpsichord) in which the first of the William Byrd phrases, which has saturated the first elegy, gives way to the second, which dominates the hymn. The mood of the music is sustainedly reflective, with mostly quiet dynamics and a melodic line for the countertenor that, while derived from the Byrd material, also has a chant-like atmosphere.