James MacMillan, Hebrides Ensemble, Synergy Voices - Since It Was The Day Of Preparation. . .
STYLE: Choral RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 162877-24319 LABEL: Delphian DCD34168 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
Since its release in the summer of 2016, Hebrides Ensemble's debut recording on Delphian Records has charted at number one in the UK Classical Specialist Chart, been an Editor's Choice in the prestigious Gramophone magazine and been positively reviewed across the specialist music world. Is this praise justified? Absolutely. The instrumentalists from Hebrides Ensemble, the vocal quartet from Synergy Vocals and the outstanding bass soloist Brindley Sherratt in the role of Christ are directed with a most assured touch by William Conway. The text, mainly taken from the Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, follows John's Gospel from the piercing of Christ through to his appearance to seven of the disciples on the shore of Lake Tiberias. As a story it is well known to most Christians: who can forget the appearance of the Risen Lord to Mary of Magdala in the Garden of Gethsemane, the doubts of Thomas being swept away when he finally sees Jesus, the excitement as Peter leaps from the fishing boat and swims to meet Jesus on the shore of the lake? Stop me if you have heard this before. No. Don't stop me - tell me again! These things were written, as John himself says, that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ. Somehow Sir James MacMillan's extraordinary setting combines both the intimate aspects of the Resurrection story. Even though the story will be well known to many readers of Cross Rhythms the music allows the words to speak directly to us. Sherratt's depiction of Jesus is wonderful but all the singers are worthy of praise and it is possible to hear every word. The musical interludes help to set the scene and the closing "Postlude" is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. Over the years Sir James has written some exquisite music (see reviews elsewhere on this website) but this is surely his best yet.
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