Two Sonnets (2011)

For 12–part Choir   8½ minutes

Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort and Players gave some of the most thrilling and memorable concerts of my five-year period as Artistic Director of the Spitalfields Festival, so I was delighted to be asked to write them a new piece.

Paul had been thinking about music related to specific times of day, and his original suggestion was a setting of the morning and evening offices.  I wanted to find secular counterparts to these texts, hoping to match their beauty and metaphysical gravity.

I came across the evening poem first: Samuel Daniel’s Care-charmer Sleep is the fifty-fourth (and best-kNown) of the sixty sonnets to Delia which he published in 1592.   Looking for a morning sonnet to match it, I naturally turned to Daniel’s contemporary, William Shakespeare, whose thirty-third sonnet begins Full many a glorious morning have I seen.

The disposition of voices is based on Byrd’s Great Service, an arrangement which offers the possibilities of rich harmonies and overlapping voices.

Dove’s two world premieres will surely become repertoire fixtures. The tender “Care Charmer Sleep” rose through a sequence of ascending arpeggios to ecstatic fortissimos before a hushed conclusion.

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 26 June 2011

Text: Sonnets by William Shakespeare and Samuel Daniel

Commissioned by the Gabrieli Consort and Players

First performance: 20th June 2011, Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh, Spitalfields Music Summer Festival.