HANDWASHERS’ NEWSLETTER 28th MARCH 2021
A work that normally receives countless performances at this time of year is ‘The Crucifixion’ by John Stainer. Described as a ‘Meditation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer,’ it is a cantata for tenor and bass soloists, choir and organ. First performed at St Marylebone Parish Church, London on Good Friday 1887, the aim was to provide something within the scope of the average parish church choir, although the piece has also been popular with choral societies over the years. Five congregational hymns are included, two of which have stood the test of time and are still included in modern hymnals.
Sir John Stainer, (1840 – 1901)
Perhaps the highlight of the work is ‘God so loved the world’, a setting for unaccompanied choir of words from St John’s Gospel. Although deceptively simple on the page, these four pages have been a constant challenge to choirs over the years, particularly in terms of blend and intonation!
There has often been a certain amount of snobbery surrounding the work in some musical circles. One eminent musician was once asked, ‘What do you think of Stainer’s Crucifixion?’ to which came the reply, ‘On the whole, I think it is a very good idea!’ That said, the work has firmly stood the test of time and is always received favourably by congregations and audiences alike.
Do enjoy this classic performance from Guildford Cathedral directed by Barry Rose, recorded in the 1960’s: https://youtu.be/1b1-cqJOBtY
ST JOHN PASSION 8th APRIL 2017 Dorothy reminded Tim:
Last October Dorothy Hartridge wrote this:
I was thinking about our rehearsals for St John’s Passion and, in particular, the two Saturday morning ones when we worked hard on “Let us not divide it” and Carleton wondered if we could take it faster and we did, and it was so exciting to think we had mastered it.
It was indeed a privilege to sing in that concert and to remember, like Dorothy, those Saturday morning rehearsals when we had close to 100% attendance. Carleton, Andy and I agreed that they developed a great feeling of ‘esprit de chorus’.
Earlier, every time Carleton asked us to turn to Let us not divide, our hearts sank and I’m sure he heard the mutterings from the basses. Then, as Dorothy reminds us, one Saturday he suggested, ‘Let’s try it at performance tempo’, and it went like a dream.
Crouch End Festival Chorus produced a CD of St John Passion, (Jenkins Edition) sung in English but just too late for us. Remember this?: https://youtu.be/OoQpf-Uecjc
As the Evangelist we had the famous tenor, Rogers Covey Crump. It was a great honour to celebrate with him the 50th consecutive year he’d sung Evangelist in the Bach Passions.
On hearing that Rogers had been engaged, Carleton grinned, ‘You lot will have to sharpen up your act then!’
Well, we did, didn’t we!
Carleton wrote afterwards:
Congratulations – I told you it would be worth the effort!!
This term has been a considerable challenge, but also the most rewarding one. Indeed, I will put my neck on the line straight away and say that last Saturday was the best concert I have had the privilege to conduct in my time with you as musical director.
You can read the whole of Carleton’s Letter here.
Charles Woodd, former Cambridge Choral Scholar, thought as much when he wrote this review: https://www.cirencester-choral-soc.org.uk/recent-reviews/j-s-bach-and-st-john-passion/
Dorothy adds: I think there were probably many like me who may have found the music in the early rehearsals difficult but by working hard at home became really confident that I knew every note and looked forward to the concert knowing we would get it right and it was so exciting. Of course the soloists and orchestra were brilliant. I just wished we could have sung it all again while we had that confidence.
Which reminds us that this was the first occasion we’d been accompanied by the Corelli Orchestra directed by Warwick Cole whose expertise in the Baroque brought so much to the occasion and whose Baroque-pitched instruments brought so much relief to our less-young voices! We look forward to resuming our Corelli partnership when Covid permits.
Here is video of Crouch End Festival Chorus rehearsing the Passion with reactions from the conductor and performers which may well resonate for you: https://youtu.be/MR_c67UN7gc
The following will take you to various movements of the recording proper. Have a good wallow!
No. 9 Thy will, O God, be always done: https://youtu.be/CY4VcnEzGYI
No. 15 O Lord who dares to smite thee: https://youtu.be/Qbzj9W7QGT4
No. 27 O mighty King: https://youtu.be/byqTjiGBaD8
No. 38 We have a sacred law: https://youtu.be/8vUYtBvuIhI
No. 52 Thy name, O Lord is shining: https://youtu.be/5293S5ATCVs
No. 56 See Him, in his agony: https://youtu.be/h0N_DXfdRas
No. 67 Sleep well: https://youtu.be/bWhpCLbwc0s
No. 68 O Jesus, when I come die: https://youtu.be/4rtywkgoOtI
While physical concerts are still not allowed, Warwick Cole’s Coffee Concert series is continuing online. Next Saturday April 3 at 11am is the next one: a sequence of music for the season of Lent, Holy Week and Easter, performed by Catherine Perfect (alto), David Hatcher (viola da gamba) and Warwick Cole (chamber organ). It is a feast of German baroque music, featuring Bach (of course), Buxtehude, Stölzel and Kuhnel. If some of those names aren’t familiar, it’s because they’ve been unjustly neglected – at least in Warwick’s opinion. The Stölzel is an aria from a cantata written in March 1721 – exactly 300 years ago – and is almost certainly getting its first outing since the 18th century.
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690 – 1749)
As before it will be a pre-recorded performance (simply because it is a lot safer than trusting in WiFi technology) but this time it will come from the Lady Chapel of Holy Trinity Minchinhampton. You’ll find the video waiting for you later this week at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH_xL9sNnsNoDOJPVLHWGdg/videos. Do join us!
LOOKING BACK – the CCS Electronic Archive
Musical works featured in these newsletters over the past year have often referred to or stirred up memories of our own past concerts. You can now look up all the details without leaving your computer! Lockdown has given us the time to start uploading more of our historical information to our website. Concert Programmes from 2005 onwards and Season Leaflets from 2008 – the first year they were produced – are now available in the public website. They can be accessed from the Home Page under the History tab where they complement the calendar of past concerts and concert reviews already in place.
THE REALLY BIG CHORUS Sue Nashe invites you to join her: https://mailchi.mp/283b67970d53/update-on-future-events-with-the-really-big-chorus-4754489?e=36746839d1
AND FINALLY . . .
Chris Burton’s 2021 holiday may be in the Tower of London: