Flesh and Blood, with words by the British playwright and poet Howard Barker, is about the parting of a soldier from his mother. It begins with the soldier expressing his dread and anxiety and wish for love and concealment, but as the scene develops this is revealed to be part of a ritual in which the soldier eventually insists that his mother send him to his death because she created him and therefore only she can dispose of him.
The conclusion is that she does then send him away, knowing he will never return, or only as a body. It is therefore shown that it is the mother (rather than, conventionally, the soldier) who makes the supreme sacrifice of their flesh and blood.
The music for the mother is at first lyrical and expressive, and that for her son more rhythmic and driven. As the piece develops, the two types of music gradually swap over.
Please note that this text is not to be used as a programme note.
The world première of Flesh and Blood will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
Friday 15 Feb, 7.30pm London time. Listen here.
View the full vocal score
Flesh and Blood
for mezzo-soprano, baritone and orchestra | 30‘
3 3 3 3 - 5 3 3 1 - timp(2), perc(4), hp(2), cel, str
15/2/2013, Barbican, London; Christine Rice, ms, Marcus Farnsworth, bar; BBC Symphony Orchestra, cond. Ilan Volkov