This is a piece for solo baritone and band. It is a series of variations on ‘Tenebrae Factae Sunt’, a madrigal by Gesualdo. The original Gesualdo music is played — note for note — by two antiphonal choirs, placed left and right of the main band, ideally off stage. Choir 1 is made up of two solo cornets and solo horn, while choir 2 is the trombone section. The Gesualdo madrigal describes the crucifixion of Christ. In this setting the baritone solo takes the central role of Jesus as he cries out “Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?” The music played by the band is very programmatic and descriptive. For example, at one point we hear the nails being hammered through Christ’s flesh as the crowd reels in horror. At other times we hear snippets of triumphalist fanfares, depicting the might of the Roman army. In the final moments, to the Gesualdo setting of the text “And he bowed his head and gave up the ghost” some of the band are instructed to blow air through their instruments, a reference to Christ’s last breath.
Instrumentation: Solo baritone with brass band
Playing standard: Advanced