Author: Peter Broadbent
Performance: I Was Glad
Giles Swayne is another composer whose gifts were apparent early in life, playing the piano at an early age and composing at the age of ten, encouraged by his cousin Elizabeth Maconchy. His Three Shakespeare Songs published while he was still a student at Cambridge show a remarkably assured technique and have featured regularly in the JCS repertoire since 1990.
The JCS also premiered Two Romantic Songs at the Cheltenham Festival and gave the London premiere of his Stabat Mater. As Anthony Burton remarks in his percipient essay, “Giles Swayne occupies a highly individual position on the British musical scene. Out of alignment with the avant-garde, with minimalism and with diehard traditionalism, he still belongs anywhere but the middle of the road”.
Swayne’s setting of the familiar text Ave, verum corpus contains typical rhythmic and harmonic devices, with the imitation and reiteration of the opening phrase adding to the intensity of this short piece.