This new recording is creating considerable interest: it's already been featured on Classic FM and BBC Radio 3. Patrick Hawes brings fresh meaning to the well-known words of the requiem mass by setting them in the context of the Lazarus story and he sets up a dramatic interaction between Christ as a young man (tenor Thomas Walker), Lazarus' sisters, Mary (soprano Elin Manahan Thomas), Martha (mezzo-soprano Rachael Lloyd), Thomas (baritone Julian Ripon) and the disciples (semi-chorus, Exeter Cathedral Choir). The words of the Requiem are sung on this recording by Exeter Philharmonic Choir and the tableaus telling the story of Lazarus are performed by Exeter Cathedral Choir along with the soloist.
You need to hear the music and words to experience the drama but the following snapshots give a picture of the impact of interweaving the requiem with the gospel story of Lazarus. The Kyrie follows the death of Lazarus - it is a dance of joy as the chorus go on a journey of hope and love with him - after all, Christ assured Mary and Martha that Lazarus' illness was "not unto death". After expressing doubts, Mary and Martha affirm their belief in Christ, the son of God, so the words of the Offertory, O Domine Christe, carry a vigorous urgency, "Deliver the souls of the faithful departed from the pains of hell." Patrick Hawes represents Christ's tears at the death of Lazarus in a new poem by his brother Andrew Hawes, with music of great tenderness. The Sanctus then bursts out with a majestic sound followed by a lyrical setting of the Hosanna.
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra are in fine form and the two choirs contrast effectively. Some may find Exeter Philharmonic's vowels rather English but the emotional range of the work is certainly conveyed in this recording.