It is very easy to dismiss Stainer’s Crucifixion as the epitome of Victorian sentimentality, but the work still has a following, more than 100 years after its premiere at Marylebone Parish Church in 1887. Stainer’s intention was to provide a Passiontide cantata written in a musical language and on a scale that would put it within the scope of most parish church choirs. Its structure is modelled on the scheme of choruses, chorales, recitatives and arias of Bach’s St Matthew Passion. The Rev William Sparrow-Simpson, Succentor and Librarian of St Paul’s, compiled the libretto, drawing on the Gospel accounts for the narrative elements of the story and writing the texts of the choruses, arias and hymns himself. Some of the music is indeed typically sentimental Victoriana (although no less enjoyable for that) but there are also passages of great beauty. Particularly significant in the overall scheme of The Crucifixion are the five hymns, which are designed for congregational participation, of which ‘Cross of Jesus’ must be counted amongst the finest of all hymn-tunes.
Our concert will also feature The Reproaches, composed by John Sanders (1933-2003). Written in 1984, the lyrics for The Reproaches are taken from the liturgy for Good Friday. The form and atmosphere take as a point of reference Allegri’s Miserere, with its use of plainsong contrasted with harmony in the verses, although the harmonies used perhaps have more in common with Gesualdo, which the composer said ‘gives the music a sense of timelessness’.
Tickets for this concert will be on sale from mid-February. The venue is yet to be confirmed.
Date(s) - 21/03/2020