I had seen Passion and resurrection, as a few people did, on the BBC some years before. I got this CD, I think, because I was curious and it had taken some effort to remember who had originated it, Jonathon Harvey, now old, now some 71 years old.
Good grief, what on earth do I do NOW?
After listening to this, I was shocked, stunned, completely overcome with I know not what, trembling and shaking. It must be the most convinced meeting of music with deep spiritual enlightenment and vision that I have ever heard apart from Handel's Messiah, and really, it must be the case that both pieces were the result of some incredible meeting... and comprehension of things that few of us get a chance to see apart from shadows and the most fleeting imnpressions.
The music is scored for an array of rather unusual instruments, including a lot of percussion, all of which allow sounds quite different and at times, very distant from the conventional sounds of the orchestra. Harvey has made many interesting observations about how classical music has been pigeonholed into a smaller space over the years. Why not use electronic amplification? Why not make it possible for the audience to move about a bit? Why not? Here, Harvey uses what instrumentation there is to create a highly variable soundscape which does all manner of things; the voices sometimes chant beautiful plainsong (Magnify my soul) to exquisite alien song (they have taken my Lord), sometimes mournful, but containing more colour and beauty in the mourning than you would have believed possible; And then..
I really don't know how I can possibly write tribute to this. It's musically similar to the visual effects at the end of 2001, where Bowman steps into infinity and beyond. I give up. How Harvey DOES this I have not the faintest idea. While this is going on, I can't even THINK straight, let alone analyse it.
The various movements take you through the story of Jesus's betrayal, death, and the impossible miracle beyond. All of it morphing and shifting from ancient song to Schoenburg to literally, I have no idea.
And I have no idea what to do now or even what one should do. It's marvellous and terrifying.
Do listen to it.