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As the title implies, this work addresses a fundamental belief of Christianity – that of the Risen Lord, which James MacMillan sets to an English biblical text from St John’s Gospel interjected with the words of O filii et filiae and Veni Creator Spiritus. Scored for solo bass (as Christ), an SATB consort and an instrumental ensemble of clarinet, horn, cello, harp and theorbo, MacMillan’s writing creates a profound atmosphere of reverence and introspection. Solo instrumental ‘motets’ provide periods of reflection between the narratives, not only setting the scene but also casting an aura of their own. The tenor narrates the Deposition of Christ in the style of a plainchant recitation, decorated by the composer’s ornamentation. The atmosphere intensifies with an impassioned cello solo, which leads to the baritone describing Joseph of Arimathea’s reception of the body, followed by an instrumental quintet of great polyphonic beauty, drawing out the subtleties of this singular combination of instruments. From Mary Magdalene’s arrival at the empty tomb, the consort of voices in various pairings relate Jesus’s appearances. The pattern of voices, followed by what MacMillan describes as instrumental cadenzas, continues until the end of the work. The purity of the four voices of Synergy Vocals, together with the rich bass voice of Brindley Sherratt and the outstanding instrumentalists of the Hebrides Ensemble, create a spellbinding experience.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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