A moving musical narrative

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Passion Week is a long-lost choral masterpiece composed by Rimsky-Korsakov’s favourite student, heir apparent and son-in-law, Maximilian Steinberg. A product of his interest in the sacred and mystical, it is a tour de force of the systematic use of medieval Church Slavonic chant melodies and shares with Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil the colourful use of choral textures. Steinberg’s settings are complex and rich, with a diverse and sometimes daring harmonic palette, offering eleven movements of distinctive and expressive content that reveal an artist’s search for identity at a time of increasing hostility to religion.

‘Marvellously committed fervent singing from the Clarion Choir under Steven Fox and deserves the widest possible dissemination.’
BBC Music Magazine

★★★★★
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Johann Sebastian Bach’s St Matthew Passion is widely recognised as one of the greatest masterpieces in Western sacred music. With its double orchestra and chorus this is a work of enormous proportions in every sense, and Bach was extremely resourceful in treading a fine line between creating the almost operatic spectacle valued by the secular authorities in Leipzig, and the elevated religious atmosphere sought by the clergy. This inspired mix of moving drama and theological discourse led Leonard Bernstein to declare that ‘there is nothing like it in all of music’.
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World Premiere Recording
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Pulitzer Prize-winner and MacArthur fellow John Harbison has composed a Requiem for our time – a moving choral work that incorporates the composer’s distinctive sensibilities while drawing deeply on the tradition of Latin sacred music. Completed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Harbison’s Requiem is full of dramatic passages from singers and musicians alike, with abundant opportunities for vocal soloists, brass and percussion to shine. ‘I wanted my piece to have a sense of the inexorability of the passage of time,’ the composer says, ‘for good and ill, of the commonality of love and loss.’

‘Especially striking throughout is a stirring orchestral directness and richly conjured choral vehemence, voiced with taut deliberateness by Harbison and ably realised by Giancarlo Guerrero’s articulate Nashville forces.’
Classical Ear ★★★★

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8.573798-99
Of all English oratorios Handel’s Messiah has always been the most overwhelmingly popular. It is the least theatrical of his oratorios and the most purely sacred in its choice of subject matter. The vivid choral writing – there are more choruses in Messiah than in any other Handel oratorio—coupled with the expressive density of the solo arias, have ensured its status as one of the greatest choral masterpieces in the Western canon.

‘The singers are superb. Not only is each of the four soloists blessed with a naturally beautiful voice, he or she has cultivated it and practiced to the point where Handel’s breath-draining melismatic exercises are tossed off with an air of ‘and that’s how it’s done’ ease.’
Fanfare

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Culminating in Easter Day and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the Christian festival of Holy Week tells one of the most powerfully dramatic stories of all time. The events of that narrative have been marked in artistic triumphs over the centuries, not least in music which has a treasure trove of works devoted to the sequence of the action. Just as the Easter story moves from darkness to light, so the works describing it represent the full spectrum of genres and resources. Naxos boasts a wide range of recordings available, including masterpieces representative of all musical styles.
Segment Catalogue: Easter with Naxos. Music of the Passion of Christ Browse through our Easter segment catalogue for more selections. We trust you will find something to suit all tastes and wish you a very Happy Easter with Naxos.
Sacred Reflections Commemorate the season of Lent with this playlist featuring sacred choral works by Maximilian Steinberg, Arvo Pärt, John Tavener, Thomas Tallis and more, performed by the world’s top vocal ensembles.
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Naxos Audiobooks

NA0040
The Story of the Bible
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NA609112
The Old Testament
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NA611312
The New Testament
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NA435212
The Psalms
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‘British actor/narrator Oliver Ford Davies (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) does a magnificent job of using inflection
to convey feeling as appropriate. Recommended for all listeners.’
- Library Journal on The Story of the Bible (NA0040)

Recommended Audiovisual Releases

2.110387
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‘The Salzburger Bachchor sings phenomenally good, very agile, flexible, highly articulated, with an easy intonation and a slender sound.’
Klassik heute
Also available on Blu-ray
(NBD0061)
2.110394
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‘All the works are performed with warm-hearted enthusiasm by the
77-strong aggregation, and Václav Luks functions effectively as ‘traffic cop’ to his large forces.’
Fanfare
Also available on Blu-ray
(NBD0066V)
2.110357
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‘This world premiere recording nicely captures an enthusiastic and heartfelt performance.’
Infodad.com ★★★★
2.110358
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‘The musicianship of the University of Minnesota Symphony Orchestra is top notch and the quartet of lead vocalists turn in superior performances as well.’
Scene Magazine

Other Recommended Releases

Segment Catalogue: Easter with Naxos. Music of the Passion of Christ Browse through our Easter segment catalogue for more selections