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Cover

Markus Stenz / Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

St Luke Passion

  • Type SACD
  • Label Challenge Classics
  • UPC 0608917267129
  • Catalog number CC 72671
  • Release date 18 March 2015
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About the album

Following his sensational St John Passion (2007), the St Luke Passion is the second passion to be completed by the Scottish composer James MacMillan. MacMillan’s attachment to the story of the Passion stems directly from his deep-rooted Roman Catholic faith. The list of his works contains a range of vocal compositions that deal with the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ: from his music theatre work Visitatio Sepulchri for choir and chamber ensemble (1993) and the cantata Seven Last Words from the Cross (1993) to the Tenebrae Responsories (2006) for eight-part a cappella choir. He regularly draws inspiration from the story of the Passion, even in his purely instrumental works. In the Fourteen Little Pictures for piano trio (1997), the composer’s starting point is the fourteen Stations of the Cross of Jesus. And the first two parts of his orchestral triptych Triduum, The World’s Ransoming and the Cello Concerto (1996), contain melodic material derived from the Gregorian liturgy for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. This catalogue backs up MacMillan’s comment in The Times newspaper to the effect that he regards the Crucifixion and Resurrection as ‘the most important days in the history of the world’. This was part of an interview in 2009, with the telling headline ‘My art is shaped by my faith’. It was therefore always likely that, sooner or later, MacMillan would submit to the genre of Passion oratorio with an instrumental accompaniment.
However, it came as a major shock to many among the Passion-loving audience at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s concert on Palm Sunday 2009 when MacMillan’s truculent St John Passion resounded throughout the concert hall instead of Bach’s Matthew or John Passion. Where had the arias and chorales gone? Why had MacMillan utilized the Good Friday Improperia (the
‘Reproaches of Christ’) as well as the Gospel? And most of all, why was the Evangelist replaced by a four-part chamber choir?
Like most of his colleagues, MacMillan had of course listened attentively to Bach. But as a British musician he also felt a close affinity with his compatriots who had taken the choir centre-stage over the past hundred years, including Vaughan Williams, Tippett and Britten. 

 

Libretto

MacMillan: St Luke Passion

Text source: Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (1966). Minor discrepancies intended by the composer are incorporated below.
 
Prelude
Chorus
Maria! Do not be afraid. [Luke 1: 30]
 
How can this be? [Luke 1: 34]
 
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. [Luke 1: 51–53]
 
The kingdom of God has come near. [Luke 10: 11d]
 
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! [Luke 1: 42]
 
Through the tender mercy of our God. [Luke 1: 78a]
 
Chapter 22
Chorus
Now the feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death; for they feared the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and captains how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and engaged to give him money. So he agreed, and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of the multitude. Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying,
 
Christus
Go and prepare the passover for us, that we may eat it.
 
Chorus
They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them,
 
Christus
Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house which he enters, and tell the householder, “The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?” And he will show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready.
 
Chorus
And they went, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover. And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them,
 
Christus
I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
 
Chorus
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said,
 
Christus
Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.
 
Chorus
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying,
 
Christus
This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
 
Chorus
And likewise the cup after supper, saying,
 
Christus
This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of man goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!
 
Chorus
And they began to question one another, which of them it was that would do this. A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them,
 
Christus
The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have continued with me in my trials; as my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.
 
Chorus
And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” He said,
 
Christus
I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.
 
Chorus
And he said to them,
 
Christus
When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?
 
Chorus
They said, “Nothing.” He said to them,
 
Christus
But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one. For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was reckoned with transgressors’; for what is written about me has its fulfilment.
 
Chorus
And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them,
 
Christus
It is enough.
 
Chorus
And he came out, and went, as was the custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place he said to them,
 
Christus
Pray that you may not enter into temptation.
 
Chorus
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,
 
Christus
Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
 
Chorus
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling upon the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them,
 
Christus
Why do you sleep? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.
 
Chorus
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him,
 
Christus
Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?
 
Chorus
And when those who were about him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said,
 
Christus
No more of this!
 
Chorus
And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and captains of the temple and elders, who had come out against him,
 
Christus
Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
 
Chorus
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance; and when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light and gazing at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later some one else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him,
 
Christus with chorus
 Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.
 
Chorus
And he went out and wept bitterly. Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and asked him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they spoke many other words against him, reviling him. When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes; and they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them,
 
Christus
If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.
 
Chorus
And they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them,
 
Christus
You say that I am.
 
Chorus
And they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.” [Luke 22, entire]
 
Do not be afraid. [Luke 1: 30]
 
Chapter 23
Chorus
Then the whole company of them arose, and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him,
 
Christus
You have said so.
 
Chorus
And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no crime in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.” When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length; but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then, arraying him in gorgeous apparel, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore chastise him and release him.” But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”—a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will. And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said,
 
Christus
Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and then to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?
 
Chorus
Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said,
 
Christus
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
 
Chorus
And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.” And he said to him,
 
Christus
Truly, I say unto you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
 
Chorus
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said,
 
Christus
Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!
 
Chorus
And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the multitudes who assembled to see the sight, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things. [Luke 23: 1–49]
 
Postlude
Christus
Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? [Luke 24: 38]
 
Chorus
As they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” [Acts 1: 9b–11]
 
Lyrics adapted from Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952 and 1971
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved.

Our Edison Award 2014 Winners!

24-11-2014

image We are pleased to announce our winners of the 2014 Edison Awards: the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dutch National Opera, Goeyvaerts String Trio and the Dino Saluzzi Group. Read more about our stunning musicians below:  Radio Philharmonic Orchestra - CLASSICAL Oeuvre-award  Last Sunday 23rd of November the Edison Foundation gave the Classical 2014 Oeuvre-award to the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. This award aknowledges the extraordinary work they have contributed to the Dutch music scene.  The Radio Philharmonic ...

Two Luister10's!

22-04-2014

Comments

Challenge Records

November 2nd 2015 14:42
Dear Stuart, due to tight deadline we could not include the libretto in time in the booklet. That is why we decided to publish it here on the website.

stuart edwards

October 31st 2015 08:08
why is the libretto not included in the booklet which accompanies the cd?

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