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The War in Heaven is a richly harmonic cantata for solo soprano, male alto, semi- and full chorus and orchestra. The chorus text is an Old English para- phrase of Genesis, while the soloists sing a monologue by Sam Shepard in 20th-century English, mainly at the same time. It’s complex, lyrical and dramatic, all underpinned by some excellently crafted orchestral writing. Recorded before an audience, the performers give a very powerful performance. In Epilogue from ‘G’, the ‘G’ in question is the master printer Johannes Gutenberg. This introspective soliloquy comes at the end of Bryars’s opera, where the old man muses on his life. Sublime writing and a sensitive accompaniment is perfected by the glorious bass-baritone of Hans-Otto Weiss. This is something to treasure.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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