The Resurrection of the Soldiers for string orchestra is a joint commission from George Vass, to whom it is dedicated, for the 2016 Presteigne Festival, and the English Symphony Orchestra with funding generously provided by the John S Cohen Foundation and Arts Council England.
The title derives from the final panel of Stanley Spencer’s Sandham Chapel visionary series of paintings which were the result of Spencer’s experiences in the British army in World War One and depicts soldiers emerging from their graves on the last day. The music is in three continuous sections: a slow, sustained introduction which is, in essence, a descent from the note E by means of a prolation canon, followed by an active fugue which, after arriving at an anguished climax, is succeeded by a closing slow movement consisting of a rising melodic line which permeates the entire texture heterophonically, leading to the closing E major triad. The work thus traces a cyclical pitch path as it progresses towards a sense of hope and resurrection.
Robert Saxton, April 2016