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In his new work Howard Goodall casts a totally fresh perspective on the Passion narrative. He calls it ‘a reflection musically on what the story has to tell us now’ – and certainly our ‘now’ is troubled and uncertain. The composer’s creative choice of texts is seen from the woman’s angle in the Passion story. The core of his narrative comes mainly, but not exclusively, from female poets writing between the 17th and 20th centuries: Aemelia Lanyer née Bassano, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Christina Georgina Rossetti and Frances Ellen Watkins. Goodall conjures up some telling musical phrases which pop up in different guises throughout the work, but what he calls his ‘approachable’ musical idiom does not always serve these inspirational texts well. Where it does come into its own is a beautiful setting of the title poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley. The creative use of the instrumentalists complements a fine performance from the singers.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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