David Barlow (1927-1975) attended Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and was known for his skill as a teacher.
His personal life was often difficult, and his music is highly regarded by some, and completely disregarded by others.
Some years ago, when I was preparing a major Christmas choral performance, I still had one spot on the program to fill. My choice came down to doing a piece by David Barlow, a composer I could find NO information about, or another piece, composed by a much more "known" individual. Being a snob, I chose the "known" composer's music - which was a mistake, as the piece by Barlow was FAR the better work.
Barlow's musical interests included all the great "contemporary" British composers (Walton, Hadley, Britten), but he also had intense obsessions with the works of "foreign" composers from time to time. This piece was written around the time that he had a keen interest in the music of Anton Webern (1883-1945), and that "interest" is reflected in the style of the music.
Much of his music is very "conventional," while other works are not. This one is one of those "nonconventional" ones...
Published in 1969 by Novello, the work appears as the first in a collection titled, "Music Before Service - 5 Modern Pieces." It bares the dedication "To Donald Wright."
"Passion Music" is not an easy listening piece. It's not a "nice" or "pretty" piece. It's a sad, foreboding, terror-filled, deathly" piece. What else could it be?
The sonic effect at Eszterom is somewhat overwhelming, with the organ's huge sound and massive echo.
To listen to this, sit quietly in darkness, and let the music take control of your mind and your emotions...