SATB soli / SATB/SATB chorus a cappella
Duration: 15 - 16 minutes.
For information about the score of this work please visit
the Contact page.
The so-called 20th century English musical
‘renaissance’ saw a reawakened interest in the most glorious genres of the
16th century, but usually stopped short of reinventing its imitative
methods. If a work such as Bax’s Mater, Ora Filium shows awareness of the
composite effect of 16th century polyphony, the informing instinct is
nonetheless an orchestral one of its own time, using ‘block’ doublings of
triadic material in a fairly parallel fashion. This is a tendency which Amore
Langueo seeks to avoid by borrowing from early models both their outward manner
and something of their technique: no easy task, given the need to expand
harmonic language and acceptable dissonance well beyond 16th century
The text comes from two separate versions of a strikingly
powerful mediaeval poem (much longer than the extracts used here). Both follow
the so-called ‘macaronic’ practice of adding a Latin refrain at intervals
throughout an English text: in this case, just the two words of the title (‘I
languish for love’), sometimes prefaced by ‘quia’ (since or because). I
treated these Latin words as a constant, sometimes obsessive undercurrent rising
at times to anguished outbursts. The arresting imagery of the poem speaks for
itself; but the intention in treating the Latin in such a way is to see the
stricken and enigmatic figure waiting for ever on his lonely hill as a Christ
perpetually returning to Golgotha to be recrucified within the atrocities of
mankind as they re-enact themselves down each successive age.
The narrative parts of the text (before Christ speaks) spur
the music to a considerable climax before four soloists (treated much as though
they were a single ‘Everyman’ presence) utter the words ‘I am True Love,
that false was never’. The two choirs interrupt with increasingly anguished
repetitions (‘Amore langueo’), but the narrative of the soloists remains
meekly accepting until it reaches the word ‘die’. Another climax follows in
which finally the two choirs resume the English text (‘Long thou and live thou
never so high…’). The soloists respond (‘My love is in her chamber…’),
and this most beautiful passage of the text is set to music which seeks to match
its anguished tenderness. A final elevated climax is heard before the music dies
gradually away to silence, briefly recalling the music of the opening. The music
seeks not so much to end as to recede beyond hearing.
Amore Langueo  was commissioned by and written for
the Schola Cantorum of Oxford and their director at that time, the conductor and
pianist Howard Moody, with whom they performed it on tour across the USA and at
many British venues, including St John’s, Smith Square, London.
© Francis Pott, 1991
[The composer gives his permission for this note to be reproduced in concert programmes.]
In the vale of restless mind, upon a hill I found a tree;
Under this tree a man sitting: Amore langueo.
From head to foot wounded was he;
His heart blood I saw bleeding: Amore langueo.
‘I am True Love, that false was never.
My sister, man’s soul, I loved her thus,
That I suffered this pain piteous.
I crowned her with bliss and she me with thorn.
I brought her to worship and she me to scorn.
I led her to chamber and she me to die.
‘I sit on a hill to see far.
Now from my sight she may not be; in my side have I made
her a nest.
Look on me, how wide a wound is there! Amore langueo.
‘My love is in her chamber: hold your peace,
Make no noise, but let her sleep.
My babe shall suffer no disease,
I may not hear my dear child weep.
What shall I do now with my spouse,
But abide her of my gentleness?
Her chamber is chosen, there is no more.
Look out on me from the window of kindness:
Dear soul, go never me fro!
Long though and live though never so high,
Yet is my love more than thine may be, Quia amore
…the extended genius of Francis Pott's Amore Langueo (containing what Summerly describes as 'one of the great moments in English choral music from any period')…
BBC Radio Three [website, announcing programme for Late Junction]
Verity Sharp hosts Francis Pott's stunning choral masterpiece, Amore Langueo
Musicweb International, June 2006
Which pieces stand out? …I was most moved by Francis Pott's work. Its sustained fifteen minute drama, in a post-Howells harmonic language, is tinged with a very personal and often ecstatic lyricism.