Roxanna Panufnik: Love Abide

by Katharine Fry

On Monday morning I shook myself awake and trudged through the snow in suitably dandy and wonderfully waterproof red welliettes, with a Peruvian in tow, to a beautiful private residence in Marylebone. We were promised fizz and nibbly bits and neither disappointed as we waited with an assortment of musicians, composers and festival producers for our introduction to Roxanna Panufnik’s new album of choral works, Love Abide.

Her ongoing mission is to build musical bridges between different faiths, with each work on the CD focusing on a particular mood or sentiment around the theme of love, expressed in a musical language that echoes the origin of the words. The scope of the project is impressive with texts from 15th century Zen Master Ikkyū Sōyun, to the well-loved 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians; from the Christian mass setting to the 14th Century Sufi poet and mystic Rumi, to the ancient Hebrew Psalm 136(135). And with fragments of Spanish Sephardic chant, Christian plainsong, Sufi rhythms and Japanese lullaby, the results are mesmerising.

We were treated to two audio-visual delights – Roxanna commissioned VJ and animator Mischa Giancovich (aka Mischa Ying) to create animations that corresponded exactly to the music – first Love is the Master based on an illustrated Sufi manuscript from AD 1663 that bears the words of the 13th century Persian mystic Jalalu’ddin Rumi and, then, Zen Love Song an ancient lullaby of a child pining for his dismissed nursemaid. The finale was a choral rendition of Love Endureth by British a cappella group VOCES8 that left us spellbound. We then enjoyed more fizz and nibbly bits before some wobblier snow trudging.

Love Abide
is available on Warner Classics and download.

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