Leo Sowerby: Forsaken of Man

Composer(s): Leo Sowerby
Album Title: Leo Sowerby: Forsaken of Man 
Cat. No.: 80394
Genre: Classical
Description: William Ferris Chorale

On an afternoon early in February of 1935, Leo Sowerby had just finished practicing for an organ recital he was about to give at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel, when Edward Borgers, a nineteen-year-old junior at the University, approached, asking the composer to look at an opera libretto he had written.  "I never write opera," Sowerby said, with his characteristic brusqueness. Nevertheless, he thrust the manuscript into his briefcase. This was the inauspicious beginning of a friendship that eventually produced two cantatas, Forsaken of Man (1939) and Christ Reborn (1950).

The libretto of Forsaken of Man generally follows the Gospel of Matthew's account, but with liberal insertions from the other three gospels. Forsaken of Man is divided into four parts, with a brief Prologue and Epilogue.  Although this is unusual for a cantata, the form has precedent in both drama and opera.  In all four parts, which are approximately equal in length, the title of the work is the governing motive.

Sowerby's music underscores the painful progression from misunderstanding to actual desertion by one traitorous disciple, the group of trusted disciples, the masses and, as it seemed in the agony of crucifixion, possibly even by God. 
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