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Between 2001 and 2006 Wolfgang Rihm took a series of texts associated with the Passion and produced Sieben Passions-Texte, a work of stunning dramatic and ethereal beauty – I have not been so moved since I first heard MacMillan’s Seven Last Words. Rihm’s music travels both vertically and horizontally. The pauses within phrases add to the atmosphere, the music stretching from a quiet intensity to drama, all within a cohesive framework. The singing of the remarkable RIAS Kammerchor is brilliantly expressive, Rademann drawing from them exceptional phrasing and breathtaking crescendos. Astralis, set for choir, cello (which provides muted interjections) and two timpani, is an unresolved meditation, a waiting experience of sound that wanders around on the edge. Instructed to be sung as quietly and slowly as possible and with a wide vocal range, the singers do not disappoint in any way. A series of motets, Fragmenta Passionis is the work of a young man on the threshold of a career with all the excitement of modernity opening up to him that he explores vigorously to the full. The intervening years have brought a fulfilment to Rihm’s probing innovative mind. It’s a disc to return to again and again – outstanding.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Choir & Organ, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing