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Howard Blake: Passion Of Mary

Album Summary

>Blake, Howard : The Passion of Mary, for soloists, chorus & orchestra, Op. 577
>Blake, Howard : Songs (4) of the Nativity, Op. 415
Performers Conductor Ensemble
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Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Howard Blake is a popular and prolific composer whose output includes film scores (not least the extraordinarily successful 'The Snowman'), choral, orchestral and instrumental works, ballets and opera. This disc presents the world premiere recordings of Four Songs of the Nativity, commissioned by The Book Club for The Bach Choir and London Brass, and Blake's second dramatic oratorio, The Passion of Mary, commissioned by The Summer Music Society of Dorset in association with South West Arts. "The Passion of Mary draws together the Stabat Mater, the Magnificat, the Salve Regina and other Marian and Nativity texts with the wisdom of a Berlioz. The outcome is a splendid, highly accessible choral work." Roderick Dunnett (reviewing the London premiere for Church Times)

"...The words "masterpiece" and "a work of genius" are bandied about far too easily these days, but here they can be used with confidence for this, surely, is Blake's masterpiece, and, from a purely musical point of view, it is a work of genius. As my friend, and colleague, Robert Matthew-Walker wrote, "The Passion of Mary makes an immediate and lasting impact on the attentive listener, and there is no doubting the conviction of the composer and the directness of his musical utterance." I cannot improve on that. This is superb stuff in a performance which is of the highest quality...

The orchestration is magnificent, with some eloquent moments for the harp. Blake brings out all the voices with great clarity. Michael Ponder's production is a real asset, for the sound is big, yet even in the loudest episodes everything is clear and precise. There are also passages of such breathtaking pianissimo that one is on the edge of one's seat. The sound is the best I have ever heard from Naxos. All in all, this is one of the very best CDs it has been my pleasure to hear and report upon... And we haven't finished, for as a, very generous, coupling we have the Four Songs of the Nativity for chorus and brass. These are delightful settings of texts taken from Mediaeval English Verse (Penguin Books). Although not easy to perform, they make a lovely set of alternative carols if not of the community singing type. Ranging from devotional to racy this work makes a good conclusion to a very special disk. Choirs looking for new repertoire need look no further. Here are two works which can communicate easily and make a real impression on the audience. A very good booklet, with full texts, completes an issue which should be in every collection. This music is far too good to miss." -MusicWeb International

This expertly crafted, dramatic oratorio proves [Howard Blake is] a master of big-scale composition.

Patricia Rozario is the tireless soprano soloist, with Richard Edgar-Wilsons giving us a Peter Pears-like representation of Jesus....[Blake's writing] is technically skilled.

"Patricia Rozario is the tireless soprano soloist, with Richard Edgar-Wilson giving a Peter Pears-like representation of Jesus." -BBC Music Magazine ****

"The orchestral scoring is masterly; at times pared to the bone, at others glowing opulently, full of magical detail. The Passion of Mary describes widespread currency...Blake's supreme melodic gift is given full rein." -Gramophone Magazine

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: 2009-08-12_2009-08-13 (08/12/2009-08/13/2009).



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Works Details

>Blake, Howard : The Passion of Mary, for soloists, chorus & orchestra, Op. 577
  • Performers: Simon Biazeck (Voice); Richard Edgar-Wilson (Tenor); Richard Fallas (Bass); Patricia Rozario; David Wilson-Johnson (Bass Baritone)
  • Conductor: Howard Blake
  • Notes: Abbey Road Studios, London (08/12/2009-08/13/2009)
  • Running Time: 57 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2006

>Blake, Howard : Songs (4) of the Nativity, Op. 415
  • Performers: Simon Biazeck (Voice); Peter Crawford (Countertenor); Richard Edgar-Wilson (Tenor); Richard Fallas (Bass); Ann Renais (Countertenor)
  • Conductor: Howard Blake
  • Notes: Abbey Road Studios, London (08/12/2009-08/13/2009)
  • Running Time: 18 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1990