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MACMILLAN: 7 Last Words from the Cross (Dmitri Ensemble, Ross) 8.570719

As the most important feast in the Christian liturgical calendar Easter is also a time to experience great music devoted to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. Here are some highlights from Naxos’s extensive catalogue.


MacMILLAN: Seven Last Words from the Cross, Christus vincit, Nemo te condemnavit, …here in hiding…
Dmitri Ensemble • Graham Ross

The emotional power of James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross moved the composer to write that “it is inspiring when one witnesses people weep real tears on Good Friday”. Composed for The Hilliard Ensemble,
…here in hiding… is MacMillan’s most ambitious vocal work exploring medieval themes, both musically and poetically. His mesmerizing Christus vincit and controversial Nemo te condemnavit round off this début disc by The Dmitri Ensemble, a talented young group conducted by BBC Performing Arts Bursary recipient, Graham Ross.


An Easter Album
Emily Gray, soprano • Jeffrey Makinson, organ • Manchester Cathedral Choir • Christopher Stokes, conductor • Gewandhaus Chamber Choir • Leipzig Chamber Orchestra • Morten Schuldt-Jensen, conductor • Takako Nishizaki, violin • Capella Istropolitana • Stephen Gunzenhauser, conductor • Julia Faulkner, soprano • Anna Gonda, alto • Budapest Camerata • Michael Halasz, conductor • Budapest Strings • Kym Amps, soprano • Scholars Baroque Ensemble • Kodaly Quartet • New College Choir, Oxford • Edward Higginbottom, conductor • Oxford Camerata • Jeremy Summerly, conductor • Tonus Peregrinus • Antony Pitts, conductor • Aurora Surgit • Alessio Randon, conductor • St George's Chapel Choir, Windsor • Tim Byram-Wigfield, conductor • Clare College Choir, Cambridge • Timothy Brown, conductor • St John's College Choir, Cambridge • Christopher Robinson, conductor • Finnish National Opera Chorus • Eric-Olof Soderstrom, conductor • CSR Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava • Anthony Bramall, conductor • Maria Kliegel, cello • Ulster Orchestra • Takuo Yuasa, conductor

This 2-CD set brings together some of the most beautiful and moving music for Easter: Edward Miller’s When I survey the wonderous cross, the Lacrimosa and Confutatis from Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s O sacred head sore wounded, the lovely Largo from Vivaldi’s Spring (The Four Seasons), the opening duet from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, the Sinfonia from Bach’s Easter Oratorio, I Know that My Redeemer Liveth and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handels’ Messiah, the Introduction from Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ, Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine from Bach’s St John Passion, Gibbons’s Drop, drop slow tears, Palestrina’s Lesson I for Maundy Thursday, Dunstable’s Veni Sancte Spiritus - Veni Creator, Gregorian Chant, Ireland’s My song is love unknown, God so loved the world and Litany of the Passion from Stainer’s The Crucifixion, the Pie Jesu from Fauré’s Requiem, Elgar’s Ave verum corpus, excerpts from Rachmaninov’s Vespers, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture, the opening of Pärt’s Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem, Christ in his Passion from Leighton’s Crucifixus pro nobis, excerpts from Tavener’s The Protecting Veil, and The Lord is my shepherd from Rutter’s Requiem.
BACH: St John Passion (Complete)
The Scholars Baroque Ensemble

“This is in many ways an attractive St John Passion. It is young and fresh-sounding, and is especially effective (often beautiful) in its choruses" (Gramophone)

“These discs make an outstanding bargain.” (Classic CD)
BACH: St John Passion (Complete)
Colin Baldy • Matthew Beale • John Bernays • James Bowman • Eamonn Dougan • James Gilchrist • Joe Littlewood • New College Choir • Oxford Collegium Novum • Edward Higginbottom

“This is a very special recording. Not only is it of quite outstanding quality both musically and dramatically, but, being sung entirely by male voices associated with a single institution (all the soloists are past or present members of New College Choir), it probably comes as close as modern conditions permit to a sound that Bach would have recognised.”
(The Telegraph) Available in the UK only.
BACH: St Matthew Passion (Complete)
Istvan Gati • Peter Koves • Agnes Mester • Jozsef Mukk • Judit Nemeth • Janos Remenyi • Ibolya Verebits • Hungarian Festival Chorus • Hungarian Radio Children's Choir • Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra • Geza Oberfrank


"A refreshingly lithe and young sounding Evangelist, Jósef Mukk, leads a team of Hungarian soloists with fresh clear voices" (Penguin Guide)

BACH: St Matthew Passion (Highlights)

Favourite arias and choruses from the above 3-CD set on a single disc.
BACH: St Matthew Passion (Complete)
Yosemeh Adjei • Lothar Blum • Locky Chung • Claudia Couwenbergh • Dominique Engler • Marianne Beate Kielland • Nico van der Meel • Eberhard Metternich • Hanno Muller-Brachmann • Raimund Nolte • Hans-Christoph Rademann • Markus Schafer • Julian Schulzki • Cologne Cathedral Boys Choir • Dresden Chamber Choir • Cologne Chamber Orchestra • Helmut Muller-Bruhl

“Muller-Bruhl's tempos are apt, the overall tone vibrant, the pacing and flow sensible and engaging as in any of the better [period instrument] performances on disc...the choral work is outstanding” (Classics Today)
BACH: St Matthew Passion (Complete)
Hubert Barwahser • Ilona Durigo • Piet van Egmond • Karl Erb • Ferdinand Helman • Johannes den Hertog • Willem Ravelli • Herman Schey • Louis van Tulder • Jo Vincent • Louis Zimmermann • Amsterdam Toonkunst Choir • Zanglust Boys' Choir • Concertgebouw Orchestra • New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra • Willem Mengelberg

“Naxos provides an unexpectedly rich sound-frame, quite amazing given the year. There are times when Mengelberg's (truncated) Bach Passion sounds almost as Wagnerian as Furtwangler's Tristan, rapt one moment, explosively emotional the next, but its narrative impact holds you captive."
(The Independent) Not available in Australia, Singapore or the USA.
COOMAN: Sacred Choral Music
The Choir of Royal Holloway, University of London • Rupert Gough, director • Samuel Rathbone, organ

Described by Choir and Organ Magazine as ‘[music] to enliven the programmes of choirs anywhere’, the sacred choral works of American composer Carson Cooman have been widely performed and commissioned. This disc includes a sampling of the music, broadly organised by the structure of the liturgical year. Ranging in character from the exuberance of New World Carols: An American Christmas Triptych and Easter Triumph! Easter Joy!, to the mystical Trinitarian contemplation of Be Present, Holy Trinity, Cooman’s music creates a sense of ‘sacred space’ in its settings of both familiar and unfamiliar texts from all eras. Under the direction of renowned organist and conductor Rupert Gough, the Choir of Royal Holloway delivers insightful performances of this repertoire.
HANDEL: Messiah
The Scholars Baroque Ensemble

“Certainly anyone on a budget who wants a period instrument version need look no farther.” (Fanfare)

HANDEL: Messiah (Highlights)

Favourite arias and choruses from the above 2-CD set on a single disc.
HANDEL: Messiah
Trinity Church Choir, New York • Trinity Church Orchestra • Owen Burdick

“Owen Burdick and the Trinity Choir and Orchestra have made a recording that brilliantly captures the drama and piercing beauty of the oratorio. The soloists are drawn from the choir, and their strong, young voices are excellent.” (CDNow - 10 Essential Handel Albums)

Currently available only in the United States.
HANDEL: Messiah (1751 Version)
Henry Jenkinson, Otta Jones, Robert Brooks, trebles • Iestyn Davies, countertenor • Toby Spence, tenor • Eamonn Dougan, bass • Academy of Ancient Music • Choir of New College Oxford • Edward Higginbottom

“To recreate what Handel did two and a half centuries ago, Higginbottom selected three boys from the Choir of New College, Oxford, of which he is music director (for the tenor and bass soloists, he chose Toby Spence and Eamonn Dougan, both former clerks of the New College Choir). The result is something quite unexpectedly triumphant: Quicksilver fast, and sparkling with jewel-like clarity, with a musical swing and a youthful exuberance that makes even the most stylistically alert and energetic of its competitors seem lead-footed by comparison. There is a moderate amount of embellishment which is elegant and delicious by turn, but never becoming so obtrusive as to distract from Handel's magnificent musical core. The choruses are a constant delight: His yoke is easy and All we like sheep are so brilliant with an infectious sense of sheer joy.” (Audiophile Audition)
HANDEL: Messiah (Choruses)
Bratislava City Chorus • Capella Istropolitana • Krecek, Jaroslav

Bratislava City Choir occupies a unique position in the cultural life of the Slovakian capital, with its long musical traditions. The choir has enjoyed the services of conductors of great distinction during the twenty years. Capella Istropolitana has been widely praised for its many Naxos recordings.
LEIGHTON: An Easter Sequence, Crucifixus Pro Nobis
Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge • Christopher Robinson • James Oxley, tenor • Crispian Steele-Perkins, trumpet • Christopher Whitton, organ • Gareth Jones, baritone solo • Benjamin Durrant, treble solo

Kenneth Leighton’s distinctive compositional voice is characterised by rich, lush harmonies, subtle dissonance, rhythmic energy and a lilting, angular lyricism. Pithy thematic ideas and syncopated rhythms are allied to a brilliant mastery of counterpoint and a unique sense of melody borne of a lifelong love of hymns, chorale and chant. This collection features the two contrasting Canticle Settings, the Easter Sequence scored for boys’ voices, organ and trumpet (played here by Crispian Steele-Perkins) and Crucifixus pro nobis, the austere, miniature masterpiece of a Passion setting for tenor, choir and organ which climaxes with one of English choral music’s remarkable icons “Drop, drop, slow tears”.
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Snow Maiden, Le coq d'or, Mlada, Russian Easter Festival Overture
GLINKA: Ruslan and Lyudmila Overture

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra • Anthony Bramall, Donald Johanos, conductors

Rimsky-Korsakov's own Russian Easter Festival Overture, written in 1886, avowedly orchestrated in the style of Glinka, is based on liturgical themes, a description that does little justice to the lyricism and excitement of the work, seen rather as a fantasy than a formal overture. The program of the work is explained by the inclusion of quotations from Psalm LXVIII and from St Mark's account of the Passion in the score.
STAINER: The Crucifixion
James Gilchrist, tenor • Simon Bailey, bass • Choir of Clare College, Cambridge • Stephen Farr, organ • Timothy Brown

Modelled on the great passion settings of JS Bach, Stainer’s The Crucifixion is amongst the most popular of all English choral works and vividly portrays the events of the Passion of Christ. Scored for tenor and bass soloists, organ and mixed choir, the piece combines recitatives, solos, and masterful choruses that range from the graphic mob shouts of “Crucify Him!” to the ethereally beautiful meditation at the work's centrepiece God so loved the world.

More outstanding Easter Titles now available on Capriccio and Dacapo

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