The Named Angels (2012)
The next movement, Jibreel at Hira, begins without a pause. Jibreel (Gabriel) is the chief angel in Islam. He is the main messenger to the Prophets, delivering important words from God to Moses, Abraham, Jesus and others according to the Quran. In the Quran as well as the New Testament, Gabriel foretells the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary while in the Old Testament he appears on several occasions as a messenger to the prophets. Gabriel delivers his final message to Mohammed at a cave called Hira. On a night that Muslims celebrate yearly as the Night of Power, Gabriel appears to Mohammed as he is meditating and commands him to read. The illiterate Mohammed begins to miraculously read in what becomes the first revelation of the Quran. The first part of the movement captures Jibreel’s tender and simple voice as he speaks to Mohammed and the movement builds in intensity capturing the transfixed ecstasy of the Prophet repeating the Angel’s revelation.
The final movement Israfel’s Spell, begins with an invocation of Israfel’s trumpet sounding the Day of Judgment. This heralding theme interweaves with hints of a quick dance. In the Quran, the shaking of the Earth is described as the Earth dancing a dabkeh (a vigorous and ancient Arabian dance form). This develops into a fullyfledged apocalyptic dance. Edgar Allen Poe’s rendition of Israfel was the point of departure for this musical movement. At the opening of the poem Israfel, Poe quotes a particularly musical passage of the Quran: “And the angel Israfel, whose heartstrings are a lute, and who has the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures.” This informs the first lines of the poem that, in turn, gave me the title for this movement:
In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
“Whose heartstrings are a lute”
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel,
And the giddy stars (so legends tell),
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
Of his voice, all mute.
-Mohommed Fairouz (composer) (2012)