A musical meditation for Holy Week
Ailsa Dixon’s Variations on Love Divine is a set of 19 short pieces for string quartet, woven around Stainer’s familiar hymn, exploring the meanings of divine love in a series of scenes from the incarnation to the ascension and a final vision of heavenly joy. In an essay on the use of hymn tunes in classical music, likening the work to Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on the Old 104th Psalm Tune, Simon Brackenborough writes, ‘There is something quietly thought-provoking about Dixon’s insistence on using this modest, contented-sounding tune to cover such large theological ground… the message of this work seems to be that a whole world of religious meaning can be revealed through even the smallest means.’ The titles given to each movement (spoken on this recording) suggest that the composer intended the sequence of variations to be followed by the listener in a kind of musical meditation, from the opening of John’s Gospel, ‘In the beginning was the Word’, through the entire span of the Christian theological scheme. This spiritual journey takes the listener through a sound-world that is by turns mysterious, lyrical, dramatic, poignant, and finally exultant in ‘The Song of Praise and the Dance of Joy’.
The following is an extended meditation on the 14 Stations of the Cross (c. 45 minutes)
Please note: you will need to adjust the volume UP for this video.