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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 28 March 2008
I'm not sure this album is a masterpiece. In places the music can be repetative and slightly unimaginative. That sounds like a much bigger criticism than it really is though. I gave this album 5 stars becase where the music itself may lack the arrangements and the performances more than make up. Belinda Sykes voice is nothing short of breathtaking. The unlikely mix of arabic and baroque sounds works to provide an endlessly interesting texture through which Belinda Sykes weaves a thread of beauty the like of which I have never heard before.
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Some of the previous Reviews seem to imply that this is just Karl Jenkins again (Ho Hum). I wonder if they would say the same about Beethoven "Oh I've heard all nine Symphonies and they are all terribly Beethoven". Well yes and that is their glory as are the works of Karl Jenkins. I have sung both the 'Armed Man' and the 'Requiem' and both moved me beyond measure. I imagine that this will do the same when my Choral Society (inevitably) performs it. Like most Of Jenkins Music the first listening gives the result of "very nice but I am not sure what it's all about'. The second listening gets the juices flowing and by the third listening you are totally hooked. The harmonies of the Ave Verum and the use of Arabic for the Incantation are positively ethereal. Yes there are echoes of the Requiem and the Armed man but this piece is all the better for that. Just stick with it folks and you will see what I mean.
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on 4 April 2008
I attended the Premier at Liverpool Cathedral and was bitterly disappointed. Far from being a single piece that relates the Stabat Mater to comtemporary themes, it feels more like a repetitive and unimaginative setting of the Stabat, interrupted by more emotional pieces on other texts. It is clear that Jenkins's heart is in these other sections, which vary from alarming to heart-breaking but are never dull (hence three stars, not one). The rest is just "Jenkins by numbers": strong, syncopated percussion backed by heavy strings and urgent brasses, long crescendo, then timp roll & gong. Repeat without variation for 45 minutes. You've heard this before and may well like it. It does little for me.
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on 12 February 2012
The text of "Stabat Mater" meditates on the suffering of Mary during Christ's crucifixion. The work is in 12 movements,as follows:-

1.CANTUS LACRIMOSUS is the longest movement at 9 minutes.I feel that this goes on far too long, especially the repetitive ending.
2.INCANTATION (in Arabic) is very evocative and beautifully sung by Belinda Sykes.
3.VIDIT JESUM IN TORMENTIS is mostly fairly gentle music for the chorus with a more impassioned conclusion. I feel that this movement is effective.
4.LAMENT .. Wow! Where did this mezzo come from? (Jurgita Adamonyte) What a lovely tone she has for this really beautiful song.
5.SANCTA MATER .. I usually skip this movement. It is my least favourite, rather loud and 'in your face'.
6.NOW MY LIFE IS ONLY WEEPING features Jurgita (actually, she's from Lithuania) with another beautiful melody. Belinda Sykes concludes the section in Aramaic.
7.AND THE MOTHER DID WEEP ..these title words are sung in five languages. The movement begins pleasantly, but becomes a little repetitive.
8.VIRGO VIRGINUM ...this is quite a contrast from the previous movements, quite light, with a pizzicato-type accompaniment.
9.ARE YOU LOST OUT IN DARKNESS? features the two female soloists, singing in English and Aramaic. This is an effective movement, but just a shade too long.
10.AVE VERUM .. this music suits the words very well; it is a very peaceful setting.
11.FAC,UT PORTEM CHRISTI MORTEM is a rather gentle section with an effective percussion accompaniment.
12.PARADISI GLORIA builds up to quite a climax, but it is repetitive and I don't feel that the music suits the words.

The notes have details of the soloists and composer, as well as the text and full translation.

So, it is a CD for armchair listening, but I strongly suggest you have the remote handy, to skip to the next track. Definitely worth the investment, though, just for the solos.
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on 8 June 2008
Before you music snobs have a go and tell me that Jenkins is commercial and shallow, I don't expect you to even be reading this review. These notes are for listeners who already appreciate Jenkins and are wondering whether to buy this new album.

Stabat Mater builds on and has overtones of the more familiar works. But it isn't a step forward in the same way that The Armed Man was (and in my view, Jenkins will never write a better piece of music). What it certainly does do is deliver some real emotion. The album is based on a poem about how Mary felt as her son was crucified. I'm not religious, but I am a Dad. There are times when you listen to this piece where your thoughts will turn to your own children. Nothing can convey how a mother would feel watching her son tortured, but at times whilst listening to this, you a certainly moved by her lament.

Terrific album - you won't be disappointed.
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on 15 October 2012
Karl Jenkins' Stabat Mater is 12 tracks of hauntingly beautiful music about grief, sorrow, anguish and pain at the death of someone close to you, whether felt by Mary, the mother of Jesus at her son's crucifixion, Gilamesh, the ancient Babylonian writer at the loss of his friend or Jalal al-Din Rumi, a Medieval Persian poet lamenting the murder of his mentor.

The tracks are sung in either English, Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek or Latin and sometimes a combination of some of these languages and the music contrasts European and Middle Eastern styles. Despite the deeply sad and gloomy theme, the whole CD is a joy to listen to and the album as a whole has a strongly modern feel to it.

There are some similarities to the Armed Man but while this earlier composition highlights the shocking consequences of war, Stabat Mater is solely about those left behind mourning the death of friends or relatives.

I would recommend this CD both to newcomers to choir music and to anyone who appreciates good choral music with a contemporary twist.
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on 28 September 2008
As a fan of "The Armed Man', 'Requiem' and 'This Land Of Ours', it's no wonder I listened to the CD prepared to be instantly blown away. However, at first I found it to be less inspired than the previous works, yet was delighted to find Jenkins was coming to my home town to conduct Stabat Mater, which I went to see last night.

It's true that the movements with more pace have the signature quirky rhythms we have come to expect from Karl Jenkins; yet the more contemplative movements are profound and poignant, particularly those featuring the amazing Belinda Sykes. Her Arabic singing and playing of the duduk (which I discovered last night is a recorder-sized instrument with a double reed) is nothing short of mesmerising, both on the CD and live. The work is worth purchasing for Sykes' 'Incantation' alone.

The beautiful 'Lament' offers a solo of exquisite tenderness to the cor anglais as 'Benedictus' did for the violin in 'The Armed Man.' Coupled with the alto singing of a Mother's grief, it would be difficult to remain unmoved here. As an oboist myself, this is the highlight of Stabat Mater.

A wonderful experience.
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on 1 December 2008
I was slightly dragged to watch this in St David's Hall, Cardiff. I'm not the biggest fan of classical vocals! However I was very pleasantly surprise - the odd bit went on a little too long but for a first listening, pretty good. Bought the CD for my wife as a little present (as you do). This has really grown on me over time. It's a little like how I feel about the music of Pirates of the Caribbean, once I forget about the subject then I can just enjoy the music. A topic of Mary watching her son being murdered on a cross isn't exactly a barrel of laughs or in the words of my daughter it doesn't "float my boat". However this just has just some wonderful music and vocals. It's easy to listen to, I like driving with it and is my favourite piece of music currently. I don't pretend to know that much classical music or what is "in", I just know what connects with me. Essentially this hits the spot. My favourite Karl Jenkins and possibly album of 2008.
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on 4 March 2008
This is Karl Jenkins (famous for his Adiemus albums, the well known Cheltenham and Gloucester TV ad, the Delta Airlines commercial, and most recently the Linx TV ad) at his best and most inspired since the Armed Man, A Requiem for Peace. A true fan, I have already bought my tickets for the world premiere concert in Liverpool Cathedral on the 15 March, and can't wait. He has lovingly written this work of heart-wrenching beauty. No wonder he is always at the top of the list in the Classic FM Hall of Fame year after year.
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on 4 January 2014
There are so many beautiful compositions and talented artists in life. Sometimes I wonder whether anything that are still to be composed and performed can ever match the classiques of the centuries past. When I listened for the first time to Jenkins's Stabat Mater, I was deeply moved by the simplicity and purity of the music. The artists in this specific recording are so true in their performance of the music that in a certain sense I think I am spoiled for the rest of my life, and will always want to hear the specific interpretations and voices of especially Jurgita Adamonyte and Belinda Sykes. This performance by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Jenkins himself, is hauntingly beautiful and reminds me of what Oscar Wilde said about the music of Chopin: "....I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning about tragedies that were not my own."
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