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The Christian festival of Holy Week tells one of the most powerful and dramatic stories of all time. Culminating in Easter Day and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the events of the narrative have been recorded by composers for more than half a millennium. The resultant variety of styles in expression represents one of music history’s finest chapters. We hope you might find some new discovery to add to your personal favourites for this special season from the suggestions that follow.

Download the Easter with Naxos segment catalogue here



Vasari Singers, Backhouse

“…all the performances on this CD are first rate. I have the impression that this is a programme that matters to Jeremy Backhouse and his choir. This is a disc that should be investigated by all those who are interested in contemporary choral music.”
MusicWeb International

Deutsches Requiem (Ein)

A.L. Richter • S. Genz
Leipzig MDR Radio Choir and Symphony • Alsop

“…Alsop’s rendition …makes a cohesive, articulate statement that, as Brahms intended, presents the work not as a languorous, weighty sermon but as a vital, relevant reassurance for the living who are both mourning the dead and contemplating their own mortality.”


Libor • Wolak • Kirch • Monarcha,
Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra
Antoni Wit

“Wit just may be the best conductor around these days for big choral works such as this (remember his knockout Mahler Eighth). He finds more ear-catching detail in the music than anyone else has to date.”

Requiem /
The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan

Frances Lucey, Soprano • Virginia Kerr, Soprano
Colette McGahon, Mezzo-Soprano
Peter Kerr, Tenor • Nigel Leeson-Williams, Bass
RTÉ Philharmonic Choir
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra or Ireland
Adrian Leaper • Colman Pearce


“A fine performance of Stanford's
inexplicably neglected Requiem…
captivating from first to last.”
Classic FM


PÄRT: Passio
Robert Macdonald, bass (Jesus) • Mark Anderson, tenor (Pilate)
Tonus Peregrinus • Antony Pitts

Born near Tallinn in Estonia in 1935, Arvo Pärt emigrated in 1980 and settled in Berlin. Soon after emigrating, Pärt completed the St John Passion which he based on his newfound tintinnabuli principle that “the melody and the accompaniment is one”. Settings of the Passion are part of a very early tradition in the Church, and in Pärt’s setting it is the text itself which determines the musical structure and even the duration of the silences between the words. Using the most concentrated of means, Pärt communicates the depth and power of the ancient Passion story in a new and compelling way.

PENDERECKI, K.: St. Luke Passion
Izabella Kłosiƒska, Soprano • Adam Kruszewski, Baritone
Romuald Tesarowicz, Bass • Krzysztof Kolberger, Evangelist
Jaroslaw Malanowicz, Organ • Warsaw Boys Choir
Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra • Antoni Wit

Penderecki’s St Luke Passion takes as its model the Passions of Bach, the events leading up to the Crucifixion related in an ongoing sequence of narratives, arias and choruses. Its stark simplicity and directness attracted worldwide attention and it was quickly performed many times in Europe and the USA. For many, here at last was a piece of contemporary music which made an immediate emotional impact, and the use of contemporary compositional techniques served only to reinforce the dramatic power of the work.


MESSIAEN, O.: Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum /
Le tombeau resplendissant / Hymne

Lyon National Orchestra • Jun Markl

Olivier Messiaen’s uniquely distinctive and powerfully expressive musical voice drew strength from religious faith and nature. A prestigious commission, Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum commemorates the dead of two World Wars through the transcendence of Christ’s Resurrection. Scored for winds and percussion, the work is conceived for and conjures up vast spaces. Le tombeau resplendissant and Hymne are early works, but equally filled with mystery and symbolism. Fanfare magazine described Jun Märkl’s previous volume in this series (Poèmes pour Mi / 8.572174) as “the best recording around of a mesmerizing masterwork”.

Iwona Hossa, Soprano • Agnieszka Rehlis, Mezzo-soprano
Piotr Kusiewicz, Tenor • Piotr Nowacki, Bass
Gennady Bezzubenkov, Basso profondo • Warsaw Boys’ Choir
Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra • Antoni Wit

Penderecki’s Utrenja was inspired by the Orthodox liturgy for Holy Saturday with its focus on the lamentation of Christ’s death and the Easter Sunday morning service commemorating the Resurrection. The composer remarks that ‘Utrenja is a combination of pure, a cappella vocal writing and orchestral effects (for strings and percussion) very much connected with electronic music’. Enthusiastically received by audiences, it stands beside his Polish Requiem (8.557386-87) and St Luke Passion (8.557149) as one of the towering masterpieces of modern Polish music.



A. Marangoni

“Alessandro Marangoni is an excellent pianist…Although there are some real barnstorming movements to be found here nothing seems to cause him concern.
He also phrases the more meditative pieces which form the majority of the cycle with delicacy and charm.”
MusicWeb International

Livre du Saint-Sacrement

P. Jacobs

“…with this spectacular Messiaen recording, Jacobs has created what will surely become a reference version for many.”
The Juilliard Journal Online

Seven Words /
Silenzio / In Croce

“The combined effect of solo cello
and bayan…is utterly mesmeric.”
Classic CD

The 7 Last Words

“ would be hard to imagine performances
of greater intensity than these…”
BBC Music Magazine

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