Bach Inspired

Six new compositions in answer to chorales from Bach’s St Matthew Passion

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Catalogue Number: 5060192781182

Reviews

Faced with repurposing its cancelled performances of Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion during lockdown, the Back Choir invited six composers to choose one of the work’s chorales, to select a text that in some way responded to it, and to write something suitable for online rehearsal. The result is six varied miniatures, each with its own sound world drawing on the resources of an instrumental quintet offering piano, cello, oboe, horn and percussion. And last summer it finally became possible to record the set in live, in-person sessions, each work prefaced by the chorale that inspired it … Among the responses, Charlotte Harding enlists the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, clothing them in plush, enveloping harmonies that work towards a radiant sunburst of a climax; Gavin Higgins on the other hand is stirred by Blake into a howl of outraged anger tempered by reflective contrasts. Héloïse Werner opts for the French, underscoring a brief excerpt from Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations with a pungent palette including incantatory chanting and lithe rhythms that prefigure the concluding dance imperative. Throughout all the composers’ changing demands, the choir repays David Hill’s fastidious and disciplined direction with impressive precision and – when required – attack; and for those who have forgotten the sound of ‘Choral Society Bach’, the well-upholstered, hallowed a cappella chorales themselves sound like a reassuring ancient commentary echoing down the ages. An imaginative project, sympathetically realised **** / **** (BBC Music)

Track listing
  1. O Sacred Head Surrounded by Crown of Piercing Thorn!
  2. Glow
  3. How Falsely Doth the World Accuse!
  4. Cruelty Has a Human Heart
  5. Receive Me, My Redeemer
  6. Inner Phrases
  7. O Father, Let Thy Will Be Done
  8. Dreams in the Garden of Love’s Sleep
  9. Be Near Me, Lord, When Dying
  10. Easter Wings
  11. Commit Thy Way to Jesus
  12. Who Has Seen the Wind?