Mstation Classical Reviews

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Mon, 29 Aug 2005

Stainer, The Crucifiction

Sir John Stainer, The Crucifiction
James Gichrist, Simon Bailey
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge
Timothy Brown
2 CDs, Naxos

The second CD included with this is actually a bonus CD in relation to Naxos's recently celebrated eighteenth birthday. It is entitled English Choral Classics and includes the likes of Finzi, Elgar, Britten, Berkeley, Vaughn-Williams, Walton, and Taverner.

The main CD is Stainer's most well-known work and is still regularly performed. Stainer's objective was to write music that was able to be performed by an average village choir and so simplicity is one of his hallmarks. He managed to convey pomp and majesty by forceful passages intermingled with radical volume shifts. Power, this piece certainly has and it is also a child of its time in it's use of dynamics. Whether it is likable or not will depend on your own musical prejudices -- and perhaps even your religious ones if you are given to such things. The general lack of delicacy will cause dislike for some, and the dynamics can seem rather hectoring. This might be what one would expect of a Victorian but still, there is little doubt that a performance reverberating through a large cathedral could be quite moving. (Count K)

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