Easter Music Online

If you’re missing your fix of concerts during the Easter season, here are some links that you might like to check out – performances of a variety of Easter musical fare by Australian and other composers and performers:

Short listens:

This beautiful piece is a hymn of the Western Church, used as one of the antiphons for the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday, based on a Greorian melody possibly going back as far as the fourth century. It is usually sung at Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and on Holy Thursday at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. It has been reassigned from the foot-washing ritual to the offertory procession at the Holy Thursday Mass. It also appears in the Anglican and Lutheran hymnals.

  • The Easter Hymn (Regina coeli) from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. Soprano Julia Varady with The National Philharmonic conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni and The London Opera Chorus directed by Terry Edwards, accompanied by footage of exquisite churches from Sicily.

The grand Easter Hymn, is performed by nearly the whole cast of the opera. The solo organ is heard, playing from inside the church as the choir joins in, a capella, singing ‘Regina coeli, laetare’ – as the congregation responds with ‘Alleluja!’. Orchestra and solo soprano, Santuzza, take over a melody based on insistent rising triplets as the devout Santuzza expresses her feelings of unworthiness caused by her illicit affair.

  • Sydney Chamber Choir performs the opening chorale Wir essen und leben wohl from J S Bach’s Cantata Christ Lag In Todesbanden BWV 4 (Christ lay in the snares of death).

Bach is believed to have written this in 1707 when he was a professional organist aged 22. The text is from Martin Luther’s hymn of the same name, the main hymn for Easter in the Lutheran church. It is one of JS Bach’s early attempts at painting the words with music.

  • J S Bach’s Easter Oratorio BWV249 Another work by JSB – but he wrote so many great Passiontide works! This one is so rarely performed it is worth listing. Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Jos van Veldhoven.

First completed as a cantata for Easter Sunday in Leipzig on 1 April 1725.

Long listens:

  • Celebrating 152 years since its first performance on April 10, 1868, Brahms’ German Requiem performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Choir and Soloists, conducted by David Zinman.

Written between 1865 and 1868, possibly in response to his mother’s death, Brahms’ German Requiem is a sacred piece for large forces, performed in German rather than Latin.

  • JS Bach’s incomparable St John Passion performed by English Baroque Soloists & Monteverdi Choir, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, conductor.

Premiering in Leipzig in 2725, this was the first item of music for the Passion that JS Bach composed as Cantor in Leipzig.

  • Mahler’s Symphony No 2, Resurrection, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons, with the Netherlands Radio Choir and soloists.

Scored for large orchestra and female soloists, Mahler took 6 years to write this, premiering it in 1895, the year after its completion.

  • GF Handel’s Messiah Performed by Celeste Lazarenko (soprano), Nicholas Tolputt (countertenor), Andrew Goodwin (tenor), Christopher Richardson (bass-baritone), Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Christmas Choir, Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra, Brett Weymark (conductor)

This incomparable piece is a perennial, composed in just 2 weeks in 1742, originally written for Easter and performed in Dublin on April 10 that year, to a crowd of 700!



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