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The composer states that hearing a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the age of 17 inspired his musical vocation, but he waited until he was 60, with a substantial catalogue of commissions for some of America’s leading classical singers and instrumentalists under his belt, before tackling the Crucifixion story. He has succeeded in giving it a completely fresh treatment, drawing on both Hebrew texts from the Jewish scriptures and Gospel texts in English from two translations, the Revised Standard Version and the Complete Jewish Bible. The score is symphonic in its richness and operatic in its drama; scenes are set with extraordinary vividness, and there is some wonderful, lyrical writing for the vocal soloists, particularly an exquisite soprano aria after Judas has hanged himself. This is a fine recording of a substantial and powerful work; I recommend C&O readers to discover it for themselves.

CLARE STEVENS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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