You never know what kind of music is going to emerge from the ever-prolific British composer Stephen Goss. He’s written in every style imaginable it seems, from pieces that evoke much earlier musical epochs to challenging dissonant works that cry “modern,” and so much in between. This week’s video pick is a recent piece by Goss, written in 2015, and it finds the composer in a most lyrical, pensive, and evocative space (literally and figuratively). As he explains:
“‘Watts Chapel’ is named after the Arts & Crafts[-style] memorial chapel built by Mary Watts in commemoration of her husband, the artist G.F. Watts. The chapel is situated close to my home in Surrey, England, and offers passers-by the opportunity for reflection and quiet contemplation.
“My piece draws on the music of Gustav Mahler written around the time the chapel was built [mid-1890s] specifically, fragments of the Third and Ninth Symphonies, and the song ‘Ich bin der welt abhanden gekommen’ (‘I am lost to the world’), from Rückert-Lieder [song cycle]. The Mahler references concern remembrance and the transience of mortality. My music is slow and spacious; it attempts to evoke the peaceful atmosphere of Watts Chapel.
“The piece was commissioned by Michael Partington, who gave the first performances in the US and the UK in the early part of 2016. This film was shot in August 2016, by kind permission of Watts Gallery Trust and Compton Parish Council.” The exquisite video, shot at Watts Chapel, was made by award-winning British photographer Luca Sage. The music is published by Doberman-Yppan. Partington is not only an exceptional guitarist, equally comfortable playing Scarlatti, Torroba, and Takemitsu, but also a well-known advocate for contemporary composers, such as Goss, Bryan Johanson, Angelo Gilardino, and many others.