April 11, 2014

Best Classical Music for Holy Week and Easter

Maria Callas, Philippe Jaroussky, Ton Koopman and Libera among these inspiring selections for Eastertide.

Pergolesi: Stabat Mater

Two voices of celestial beauty join to express the anguish and poignancy of Mary at the foot of the cross. Philippe Jaroussky and the young soprano Julia Lezhneva are joined by I Barocchisti in this new recording of a deeply spiritual Baroque masterpiece, alongside two lesser-known sacred choral works by Pergolesi: Laudate pueri and Confitebor tibi domine.

The Stabat Mater's premiere performance was scheduled for Good Friday; the ailing Pergolesi managed to finish the work in time, but succumbed to tuberculosis soon after, at the age of just 26.

More info on the International Classical Music Award-winning CD here.


Easter Hymn from Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana

Outside the village church, a crowd gathers to sing a hymn for Easter — the excommunicated Santuzza joins them, unable to enter the church.

Along with the famous Intermezzo, the Easter Hymn from Mascagni’s early verismo opera Cavalleria Rusticana immediately took on a life of its own in the concert hall.

Callas recorded the opera in 1953 at the Basilica of Santa Euphemia, but never undertook the role again.

Bach Violin Concertos, Vasks Distant LightRenaud Capuçon

French violinist Renaud Capuçon's first disc as soloist and conductor juxtaposes works penned three centuries apart, by Bach and Latvian composer Peteris Vasks. It's an unexpected choice and neither work is religious in the traditional sense, but as Capuçon explains, he listened across the centuries for "purity of line, apparent simplicity, celestial harmony."

The works share "a search for the absolute, as well as moments of grace. This is music which brings calm, revitalises, which gives hope." Perfect then, for this time of reflection.

Charpentier: Te Deum, Magnificat

Orchestre de Chambre des Concerts Pasdeloup, Louis Martini

The historic first-ever recording released on Erato: joyous sacred music of the French Baroque, now happily reissued as part of the Erato Story series.

LIBERA — Peace

This chart-topping London boys' choir has performed in front of the US President and the Pope, always singing intimate music that touches the soul. Hear their pure, luminous tone in Panis Angelicus, Ave Virgo (based on Mozart's Clarinet Concerto), a traditional gaelic blessing and more.

Haydn: Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross — Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt

With Anthony Rolfe Johnson heading an extraordinary cast of soloists, this classic recording is an emotionally and dramatically riveting account of Jesus' sacrifice. Part of the Das Alte Werk series.

Bach: St Matthew & St John Passions, Mass in B Minor — Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra

What classical Easter would be complete without the ultimate Bach trinity: the St Matthew and St John Passions and the Mass in B Minor? This 7-CD collection from the pioneering Ton Koopman and his period-instrument Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra is one of the finest ever immortalised on disc.