Image - crown of thorns

Christus Vincit

Music for Passiontide

Saturday 23 February 2008 7:30pm
Winchester Cathedral Quire

Lotti Crucifixus
Schütz Musikalische Exequien
Caldara Crucifixus
Brahms Warum ist das Licht gegeben
Victoria Officium Defunctorum (Requiem 1605)
MacMillan Christus Vincit

(scroll down for more about the music)

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“Christus vincit” – so claims the final piece in this concert of Passiontide music. “Christ conquers, Christ is King, Christ is Lord of all”, set to music of great beauty and lyricism by James MacMillan.

The first half of the programme presents music from Italy and Spain, beginning with Antonio Lotti’s famous 8-part setting of Crucifixus etiam pro nobis. The main work in the first half is Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Requiem, composed for the funeral of the Dowager Empress Maria of Austria in 1603. Victoria’s music, of which his six-voice Requiem is a fine example, combines great contrapuntal skill with an intensity of musical and devotional expression. This is followed by another setting of Crucifixus etiam pro nobis, composed for 16 separate voice parts by Antonio Caldara (1670-1736), a Venetian contemporary of Lotti.

For the second half we move north, beginning with Warum ist das Licht gegeben, perhaps the finest of all the motets by Johannes Brahms. The music begins in anguished chromaticism, before a more warm-hearted, lyrical style leads to the confident final chorale, using words of Martin Luther: “Mit Fried und Freud”.

Heinrich Schütz is among the predecessors whose music Brahms studied and particularly admired. Schütz composed the Musikalische Exequien at the behest of Prince Heinrich Posthumus Reuß and its music is among the very finest of Schütz’s entire output. The first movement consists of a sequence of texts from the Lutheran Bible. The second is a double-choir motet, a form in which Schütz excelled. It is in the final movement, however, that his early training in Venice can be heard, in the contrast between the earth-bound choir and the three solo voices (representing two angels and the soul of the departed) singing “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord”.

We hope that you will enjoy this programme of Music for Passiontide.