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Review: The Choir Of King's College, Cambridge & Endymion - Arvo Part's St. John Passion @ King's Place

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 31/10/2015 at 04:11
0 comments » - Tagged as Festivals, Music

Review: The Choir of King's College, Cambridge & Endymion - Arvo Part's St. John Passion @ Kings Place

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge & Endymion - Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Joannem (The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to John)
King's Place, London
Friday 23rd October 201

*Please note* There will be no accents in this review, due to the unexpected and temperamental handling of them in the the website system. 

With the great discovery in David Lang the night prior, the Minimalist in me would be appeased by repeated concerts of further music.

Arvo Part is one of the most famous composers of our time. Now in his 85th year, his music (known as tintinnabulous or little bells) has developed a popular audience. They seem to melt into his fragile sound world. The quivering harmonies, the unbearable melodies and the evocation of the medieval, all reign supreme in his compositions. His music is certainly unique and instantly recognisable.

In his St John Passion (or just Passio for short) he may evoke Bach in the billing, but has created a starkly different piece. This 70 minute work is a rigid, evocative detailing of John's account of the trail and crucifixion of Jesus. The boy choir of King's have a huge task (which they mightily pulled off), as do the mature singers. The four players in Endymion (violin, cello, oboe and bassoon) perfectly counteract these harmonies, epically in the progression of the story by the four Evangelists.

These singers and musicians were pristine. It's easy to see how soprano Maud Millar sang slightly too early at one point, such is the music's maze of notes. Her and the three other Evangelists sang in the sweetest of piety. Cute faced tenor Joel Williams, bass William Gaunt and counter-tenor David Allsopp added to the range of singers in the loveliest of listening experiences. Tenor Thomas Hobbs as Pilate, sounded as if he has a few mishaps in is delivery, but he makes up for tis in his pure register. Stephen Cleobury conduced the trope of singers in the fine way Part's music should be, with humility.

Though the experience can be a bit jarring, an overall sense of endless resplendence continues to stay with you. The piece changes very little, yet it wasn't until the total revelation at the end as Jesus died, did we become aware of the work's true power. Playing Jesus was bass-baritone Edward Grint, gracefully accompanied by organ every time he sang. The mood here every time was solemn and atmospheric. His voice is well matured and his real tears after singing for the final time, had such an impact on me (I didn't think would). As the choir then prayed in their majestic glory, the music took the listener to a higher plain of tranquility. An unforgettable musical moment.

Rating: 4 stars

Minimalism Unwrapped continues at Kings Place, London till December 2015. Featuring music by John Tavener, Brian Eno, John Adams, Terry Riley and many more.

Note from Weeping Tudor: "Like my namesake, a brand new theatre company is to be born. Weeping Tudor Productions shall stage rare, new and LGBT+ works. You can donate here via Kickstarter for our inaugural piece, Medusa's Trap by Erik Satie. Find out more in my article on theSprout here."

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