Friday, March 25, 2016

A Year's Music: McMillan's "Seven Last Words from the Cross"

       Matthias Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece 
I noticed that an area church is featuring Gabriel Faure's Requiem during this Easter Triduum. I want to write about that favorite piece eventually. Today (Good Friday) I'm listening to a much harsher piece, "Seven Last Words from the Cross" by contemporary composer James MacMillan (b. 1959). The All Music site has this about the piece: "Inspired by his Catholic faith, James MacMillan often composes intense works on religious themes. Yet unlike his older contemporaries, Sir John Tavener and Arvo Pärt, whose calm meditations and ecstatic paeans reflect their composers' certitude in Christian redemption, MacMillan frequently considers darker subjects and creates a dramatic tension in his music between expressions of suffering and salvation. His setting for choir and string orchestra of the Seven Last Words from the Cross (1993) is …[a] severe portrayal of Jesus' agony is much stronger than the pathos that is usually emphasized in such Good Friday services." Read the whole review at:

Here is a recording:

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