Joseph James - Requiem After J S Bach

Monday 1st September 2003
Joseph James - Requiem After J S Bach
Joseph James - Requiem After J S Bach

STYLE: Classical
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Black Box BBM1023

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

If JS Bach had wished to write a Requiem Mass he would have done so. For a modern composer to write one on his behalf is either a worthy addition to Bach’s canon or an impertinence. This debate does not belong in a review so we must put it aside and listen to the music. “Joseph James” is in fact two composers: Stanley Joseph Seeger and Francis James Brown. What "he" has done is take TL de Victoria’s words and set them to vocal arrangements based on Bach keyboard pieces. As a listening experience this is a success. The soloists are Sumi Jo (soprano), Ruby Philogene (mezzo), David Wilson-Johnson (baritone) and Edward Burrowes (treble). All are in good form and Jo is outstanding. The accompaniment is thoughtfully arranged. James has used combinations of instruments that would have been available to Bach. The playing by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Barlow, is also good. For collectors of Requiems and Bach enthusiasts this is essential, even if you disagree with what James has done. For those new to Bach there are better places to start.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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