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St John’s Passion

Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
April 22, 2011

Composer and Conductor: James MacMillan
Orchestra & Choir: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Colla Voce Singers
Solo Baritone: Christopher Maltman

Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins




St Johnís Passion

James MacMillan’s much praised St John’s Passion is without question a sweeping piece of impassioned musicianship and melancholy that befits the story being told to a tee, until the final orchestral climax ultimately reveals the joyous hope of salvation that is the very anchor of the Easter story.

With Christopher Maltman in possession of a deep baritone that could, quite possibly, send the walls of many a temple tumbling, it is the soloist’s control of his exuberance that is most captivating. For Maltman, understatement clearly equals power, particularly during Jesus, now crucified, conversing with his mother, and, also, The Reproaches section. Both of which are not only deeply moving, but also intensely evocative in the manner in which they are performed and received by this near sell out audience.

However, not only is it Maltman’s, or indeed, MacMillan’s excellence that make this performance but also that of the magnificent Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, whose vigour, grace and faultless contribution are further exemplified by the addition the fourteen voices of the Colla Voce Singers. The sweeping majesty of both the large and narrator choruses give the work as a whole a resonance and depth that, quite simply, reverberates through the very souls of those listening and lodges so deep within it is impossible to remove.

An intrinsically just interpretation of the biblical text, James MacMillan’s St John’s Passion is, ostensibly, a modern classical masterpiece that, it can only be hoped, will return to this magnificent auditorium sooner rather than later.

Chris High  

Liverpool Philharmonic website



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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