Release Date:

April 14, 2014

Purchase Links:

The War in Heaven


This album features a large-scale work by Gavin Bryars for voices and orchestra, as well as the very first release of music from one of his operas.

The War in Heaven is a cantata for 2 solo voices (soprano and male alto), half chorus, full chorus and orchestra. It was commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, who gave the first and, until now, only performance at the Royal Festival Hall in 1993.  There are two parallel texts: one in English for the soloists that sets the monologue The War in Heaven by Sam Shepard, the other in old Anglo-Saxon for the chorus. The solo vocal parts make extreme demands of the singers with virtuosic passages and very high notes. Here we have two young singers with voices of extraordinary beauty and power, Anja-Nina Bahrmann and Maarten Engeltjes, who are not in the least intimidated! The performance was recorded live in the Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam.

Epilogue from G comes from the end of Gavin Bryars’ third opera G (the full title: is G, being the Confession and Last Testament of Johannes Gensfleisch, also known as Gutenberg, Master Printer, formerly of Strasbourg and Mainz). The opera, which is sung in German, uses two different singers for the principal role and the Epilogue is conceived as a kind of solo cantata. Here the benign older Gutenberg, sung by the Wagnerian bass-baritone Hans-Otto Weiss, with the younger Gutenberg alongside him, muses on his achievement and asks, now that the print era he inaugurated is over, to be left in peace. He is accompanied by 21 solo strings and off stage low brass (solo horn, four Wagner tubas, two tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba). This is a studio recording, recorded on the stage of the Staats Theater Mainz in October 2002, and was made shortly after the successful run of eleven performances earlier that year.

Gavin’s Notes:


Anja-Nina Bahrmann, soprano
Maarten Engeltjes, alto
Brad Lubman, conductor
Netherlands Radio Choir (director Gils Leenaars)
Netherlands Chamber Philharmonic
Hans-Otto Weiss, bass baritone (track 13)
Gernot Sahler,conductor (track 13)
Staats Philharmonie Mainz


1. Choir (“Haefdon gleam and dream)”, Alto (“I died…”) 5:00
2. Soprano “Air sometimes earth” 2:26
3. Soprano/Alto “sometimes grief” 2:55
4. Soprano “Air now so many things” 2:54
5. Choir (“him poer sar gelamp,”) 3:56
6. Alto “There was a time” 1:59
7. Soprano “Air again it comes” 1:28
8. Alto/Soprano “I was here once before” 4:46
9. Choir (“pa woes sod swa oer “), Soprano (“I was dead…”) 2:56
10. Soprano “But sometimes hate” 5:26
11. Choir (“dreama lease”) 4:33
12. Soprano “I died” 2:54
13. Epilogue from G (2002) 12:42

Playable Tracks

Gavin Bryars