Emily Howard: The Anvil

Emily Howard: The Anvil

DCD34285 (Delphian Records, CD)

24-bit stereo
NEW RELEASE (29 September 2023)

Playing time: 60'54"
Tracks: 31
Booklet pages: 24
℗ 2023 BBC under licence to Delphian Records Ltd
© 2023 Delphian Records Ltd
Main country of recording: United Kingdom
Country of manufacture: European Union
Reviewer: Geoff Pearce
Review of Emily Howard: The Anvil published on 10 October 2023

The Anvil:
Kate Royal, soprano
Christopher Purves, baritone
BBC Singers
Hallé Choir
Hallé Youth Choir
Hallé Ancoats Community Choir
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Ben Gernon, conductor

Claire Booth, soprano
Hugh Cutting, countertenor
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Vimbayi Kaziboni, conductor

Emily Howard (born 1979), setting poetry by Michael Symmons Roberts (born 1963):

The Anvil: An Elegy for Peterloo (2019)

1 Heavy stone harvest
2 Pelt of rough turf
3 Battered shuttles

4 The Commissioner for Paving

5 Fife drums love command liberty
6 A lake of hats
7 We walk in communion
8 We ask for sustenance and suffrage

The Order Comes
9 The order comes
10 Were we quickened from brick-dust
11 Sabred and stabbed
12 The field turns inside out

Some of Our Cry Is Their Cry
13 Some of our cry is their cry
14 Now, when you see a blush
15 Ghosts conjured from cotton smoke
16 Our shibboleth

Elliptics (2022)

17 Like a bird that has hit glass
18 Be quiet, you say
19 On the way, I reckoned up trios of street-lamps
20 Rooks wake, warn and clatter
21 The long-gone and the not-yet-here
22 Full-tilt towards infinity
23 Night-long drive
24 Houses dark and steep, oblivious
25 Love alone brooks resurrection
26 Under our feet, below the sewers
27 Seven swans in grief
28 Wildfires on the bare hills
29 Like a bird that has hit glass
30 Beyond these walls is so much silence
31 Dusk that never blossoms. Endless vespers

The imagined sounds of mass protest run through composer Emily Howard and poet Michael Symmons Roberts' The Anvil, commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and the Manchester International Festival to mark the bicentenary of the 1819 Peterloo massacre, in which crowds protesting for universal suffrage in St Peter's Fields, Manchester, were brutally crushed. To a solo soprano who narrates and remembers and a baritone who seems caught in the action, the work adds the immense forces of four choirs - each given music tailored to its particular capabilities, from professional to amateur - and the BBC Philharmonic to ask: what future was being forged in the tragic events that took place that day? A second collaboration between Howard and Symmons Roberts, Elliptics, is quieter, more elegiac: a meditation on love and death, and on what we hope will survive.

Recorded live on 7 July 2019 (The Anvil) and 29 October 2022 (Elliptics) at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK. First recordings.