There is no rose of such virtue is an anonymous mediaeval text, already well known through beautiful settings by Britten (in his Ceremony of Carols), John Joubert and others. The poem is ‘macaronic’ (it presents a verse in English, followed by a varying Latin refrain). This new version follows the illustrious examples above by remaining strophic and presenting broadly the same music in a succession of slightly different guises. The first verse is a straightforward four-part setting, the second gives the melody to the tenors and surrounds them with hushed, wordless writing for the other parts, and the third explores a freely canonic relationship between the tenor and soprano lines before carrying the previous verse-endings to a higher, more exalted pitch and mood. The fourth verse then expands its texture in a free climactic passage evoking the songs of praise sung by the angels. This subsides towards the final verse, where the texture of the music attenuates again to four parts, and canonic writing (based on the first four notes of the original melody) permeates all of them. This slightly extended statement leads to a hushed final cadence.
Francis Pott (b. 1957) began musical life as a chorister at New College, Oxford. He held open music scholarships at Winchester College and at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he studied composition with Robin Holloway and Hugh Wood while pursuing piano studies privately in London with the distinguished British artist, Hamish Milne. Throughout the 1990s Francis was John Bennett Lecturer in Music at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and a lay clerk in the Choir of Winchester Cathedral. In 2001 he became Head of London College of Music, University of West London, later leading research across the University’s Faculty of Arts and acceding in 2007 to its first Chair in Composition. Francis Pott has become recognised particularly for his sacred choral and organ music. This has been performed in concert and on radio in over three dozen countries worldwide, published by four major UK houses and released extensively on CD. Winner of four national composition awards, in 1997 he received first prize in the piano solo section of the S. S. Prokofiev Composing Competition, Moscow. In 2006 and 2011 he was a nominated finalist in the BASCA/BBC Annual Composer Awards. In summer 2012 he was winner of the international composing competition of the Cheltenham Festival, which sought new piano variations on the arioso song Bist du bei mir, well known in the arrangement by J. S. Bach. Francis lives with his wife and two children on the outskirts of Winchester.
An inspiring selection of new works from a range of contemporary composers, the Novello New Choral Series offers pieces for all types of choirs, including sacred and secular works from simple, four-part settings to more expansive, yet accessible, repertoire in an exciting variety of styles.