At First Light

July 2020 saw the eagerly awaited release of two major choral works by Francis Pott: Word [2012] and At First Light [2018; Requiem]. Naxos 8.573976.

Word is an extended sequence of meditations on the meaning of the Gospel in a secular, postmodern age. It intersperses five poems by R. S. Thomas with verses from St John’s Prologue. There is an important and demanding part for the organ, brilliantly performed by international virtuoso Christian Wilson.

At First Light is a semi-secular Requiem in all but name, in which the lamenting ‘cello presents a commentary on the experiences of love, loss and remembrance embedded in the various texts (including poetic extracts from Wendell Berry, Thomas Blackburn and Alun Lewis, and prose by Kahlil Gibran). The work arranges itself as a sequence of slow meditations framing Laudibus in Sanctis, an exuberant, Byrd-inspired nine-minute polyphonic motet celebrating a life well lived. A superb choral performance is complemented by incomparably expressive artistry from the fine British ‘cellist Joseph Spooner.