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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 20 May 2003
On hearing the beautiful and peaceful Benedictus on the radio I had to find a recording on CD for a more intimate listening. I was not disappointed by the emotional and thought provoking mass for peace - 'The Armed Man'. An incredible recipe of ancient and modern styles of music, composed skilfully by Karl Jenkins. And what a variety of texture from the Moslem Call to Prayers, to the stirring Sanctus; from the peaceful opening strings of Benedictus to the dramatic film-like sounds of Hymn Before Action. We are reminded of the futility of war during the playing of the Last Post in Charge! This is a powerful CD, and must be added to your collection.
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on 11 December 2002
Full of extraodinary swirls and stabs of orchestral music and beautiful, melodic choirs. This CD takes you on a joruney from the start of war(The Armed Man, with trudging, marching feet, drums and fifes and the poignant - given the current situation - Call To Prayers which is simply the unearthly solo voice of a meuzzin singing the Islamic call to prayer in Arabic), through to sadness and fear at start of battle(Kyrie, Save Me From Bloody Men), heroism and passion(Sanctus, the extraordinary and stirring Hymn Before Action, wonderful words by Rudyard Kipling) and of course, tumbles down into the real tragedy and pain of war(Angry Flames and Torches) and ends with the bitter sorrow of Agnus Dei and Now The Guns Have Stopped. The final, serene and lovely Benedictus(the one track I had heard and fallen in love with before buying the CD which contains the sweetest and most haunting cello I've ever heard) and Better is Peace(medieval, dancey and joyous), is a fitting end. Not for those who are easily depressed, but well worth it for the emotional journey and the beautiful voices.
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on 17 October 2002
I first became aware of the sound as I was driving to work. Slow, beautiful and reminiscent of... Of what? I did not know. I had missed the introduction. But I knew there and then I had to have it. As the music reached a crescendo, I knew I was listening to something special and fervently hoped the announcer would tell me what it was. She obliged: I had been listening to the National Youth Choir performing the Benedictus from Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. I ordered it that evening and less than 48 hours later I was able to listen to the entire CD.
From the first track to the last, I was struck by the quality of the recording and the pure sound of the voices: young people creating a sound that many of their elders in better known choirs might aspire to.
As an Australian in the UK, I heard this just days after the Bali bomb explosion in which many of my young countrymen and women died, so this CD immediately took on a meaning and life of its own. I listened to it for hours on the day it arrived - and imagine it will continue to move me to tears for many years to come.
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on 13 November 2001
This Mass for Peace is all the more moving by it's timely release. The variation in musical styles within the piece is breathtaking, from the haunting Kyrie to the mesmerising Muslim call to prayer right through to the slightly discordant and angry 'Torches'. The lyrics are well chosen to convey the powerful message and the musical settings totally reinforce the conviction of that message. From the punchy, pugnacious start of the Armed Man, through the classic Mass pieces of Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei to the upbeat ending of 'Better is Peace' with its optimistic message of 'Ring in a Thousand Years of Peace'and the final chorale 'God Shall Wipe Away All Tears' , this work is compelling listening and a welcome development of Karl Jenkins' already prolific talent. This is a departure from his Adiemus works, but let's hope it's the first of many. Well worth a listen by any discerning Karl Jenkins fan.
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on 13 September 2002
Until I bought “The Armed Man” I did not know that Karl Jenkins had also written the “Adiemus” series. A good job too, as these were a little “schmalzy” for my taste, and I might not have bought “The Armed Man”. I first heard a part of it on the radio and I fell for its beauty, and now, having heard it all I am deeply impressed. This is an altogether more serious work than Adiemus. At times stark and redolent of the fear and horror of war as in “Torches”, and at others tearing tears from the eyes with its hanting beauty as in the Agnus Dei. This work spans the depth and breadth of human emotion. The intellectuals and “pseuds” will not like this work, but I doubt the composer will lose any sleep over that. As I see it, this work was not written for them, but for the mass of ordinary men and women who have to bear the brunt of warfare with their lives and those of their loved ones. Warfare dreamed up by those very intellectuals who will never allow themselves to get too close to the horror they have contrived for those they consider as lesser mortals. Karl Jenkins has produced a mighty work. A thoughtful work. A work that not only satisfies my musical taste, but also one which made me think deeply about its meaning, and at times made me weep.
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on 12 September 2005
Jenkins was commissioned by The Royal Armouries to write this pieve for the Millenium celebration of 2000 so despite the assertions of another reviewer, this was not 'Jenkins attempt to climb on a bandwagon'.
Further, another reviewer seems to equate musical complexity with musical worth. This represents the very worst type of 'musical snobbery'. The fact that a piece is accessible does not mean that it has no worth or value.
And this piece is both accesible and enjoyable. Yes it may not be as comple as Bach or Palestrina, but I suspect that anyone who has a real heart would find themselves swept up by this music.
A very worthwhile additon to anyone's collection. In my humble opinion!
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on 30 January 2003
The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins is one of the most interesting modern classical CD's I have heard in a long time.
It is highly atmospheric right from the start and really conjures up the feelings of marching to war as part of an army.
Each track is different but they still connect with each other, each flowing easily towards the next one. Once I start listening to it I find myself getting cross if I am interupted before reaching the end.
The choir is excellent and I understand have received a lot of praise from many professionals in the music industry.
It is so good, I am now buying another copy for my father!!
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on 28 July 2004
I have never listened to a musical composition which so profoundly and dramatically paints such a stunning and visual picture that you feel you are there, rooted to the spot in the middle of a battle.
There has been much reporting in the press about a "Holy War" and one cannot push aside the feeling the music portrays a sense of "them and us". Particularly tracks 2 and 6, Adhaan and the Hymn Before Action. The tragic evens of September 11 burned into the minds of milllions for evermore will find the music stirring and passionate.
But let us not forget that despite the horrors of war the composition ends with "Better Is Peace" a reminder that goodness and salvation can and will prevail.
This is a truly remarkable work. Karl Jenkins better known for his Adiemus project has composed a work of such beauty, horror, despair and hope that one cannot be moved by the sheer complexity and range of feelings depicted throughout the work.
This is a true portrayal of Man's legacy. Perhaps even destiny.
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on 7 December 2003
This is an excellent piece of work from Karl Jenkins. His brief was to create music that reflected on war and the futility, pain and pervasion of conflict, and I think he does well. However, some aspects are a little irksome. Whilst the piece starts superbly (in French), why do we then jump to the Arabic Muslim call to prayer? Then into English for the next few movements? I appreciate that Jenkins is reflecting upon the many aspects not only of war but of its roots, and individually each piece is very good, but they just dont go together as well as I would hope.but somehow I feel it lacks cohesion.
In terms of highlights the Prayer Before Action, Benedictus and Agnus Dei are all excellent, truly moving works that come with such powerful imagery so as to draw even the most detatched listener into the piece. This is thought provoking, something all to often absent in 'modern' classical music.
Overall this is a recording I've listened to many times now and expect I will continue to do so. Sometimes not really getting into it, sometimes paying more attention, but always I'm struck by the quality of the young voices - even if the producer insists on adding echo and other such 'pop' touches. These can remind one of a movie score, but not too often. On the whole though a moving work, and one of few major faults... at least to the amateur ear, and one that doesn't insist on comparing everything to the great composers and turning one's nose up to classic FM.
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on 18 January 2006
I bought this recording recently when i was asked to sing with a 300 member strong choir and the Countesthorpe and Guthlaxton Colleges concert band ,and i was amazed with the completley different mood of songs included. It was stunning.
From Strong and fast tempo songs to illustrate the act of battle ti the slow and emotional sound of the post-war songs in which you can actually imagine the atmosphere. I am not really into this kind of music but it is definately worth listening too.
I must admit I am so looking forward to singing in this live event and even more so now I have had the pleasure of listening to the great songs.
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