Flowing, Middle Eastern-sounding melodies inflect this emotionally charged lamentation; it shimmers with agitation and occasional discord.
The live performance last year of this major and substantial work by the young Latvian composer Ešenvalds thrilled critics and audiences alike. As a new liturgical work that looks set to enter the repertoire it is comparable to Arvo Pärt’s Passio. Eschewing the single narrative perspective that characterizes the great Passion settings of the past, the composer has assembled an interlocking mosaic of texts from the gospels, from Byzantine and Roman liturgies, and from the Old Testament.
Axelrod (b. 1960) … achieves his goal of developing the possibilities inherent in Bach's instrumental challenges to come up with a colourfully orchestrated cycle that does not contain a dull moment. … [E]asily approachable to audiences attuned to Axelrod's contemporaries like Jennifer Higdon, Ned Rorem and Richard Danielpour.
"Kurt Masur has made some excellent recordings of Liszt's orchestral works where the music has been nobly served by his balanced approach. His performances have been characterized by an underlying warmth and romance, and he has shown real passion where it is appropriate, of a kind where there is no spilling over into the rhetorical posturing which can sometimes bedevil performances of this composer's music. Those admirable qualities are again apparent in this latest record." (Gramophone)