It's Passion time again. That season in the year when, as we approach Holy Week and Easter, choirs get geared up to perform music which, for my money, knocks spots off most of what gets aired at Christmas.
|One of the great Passiontide hymns of the|
You could argue that if Stainer was a "hideous Victorian", Bach was a "hideous Hanoverian", but somehow musical snobbery allows us to belittle the achievements of one age (and nation) while elevating beyond all reason those of another. I've often challenged those who glibly call Bach "a great composer" to justify the claim. It's one of those truisms which nobody ever thinks to question, yet there are plenty of flaws and failings in his myriad organ chorale preludes and run-of-the-mill cantatas. True, his outbursts of sheer genius were better than almost anyone else's, but when it comes to justifying his claim to greatness, everyone overlooks the vast bulk of his output and cites the Brandenburg Concertos, the B minor Mass and the St Matthew Passion. I can't argue with that; they are unquestionably among the great pillars of Western music.
|Even the CDs are works of art|
I wouldn't like to say that this is the ultimate CD, but for its sheer magnificence of sound, performance, documentation, illustrations and general presentation, this is a fitting celebration of a season of the year in which high art reaches its true climax.