Stephen Darlington / Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford / Mark Dobell / Kirsty Hopkins / The Lanyer Ensemble

Howard Goodall: Invictus - A Passion

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Invictus: A Passion is a work by British film and television composer Howard Goodall, who has carried on a parallel career of choral music composition for some years. It is thoroughly tonal and tuneful, and those with absolutely no sympathy for British crossover music will not find much to like here. Everyone else, however, will find a fresh way of approaching the Passion story. For one thing, there's the text, described by the composer as a woman's approach to the Passion story. Rather like John Rutter, Goodall mixes texts from various sources with a 1611 narrative poem, Salve Deus Rex Judæorum, forming the framework. (This may have been the first book written in Britain by a woman.) Goodall goes forward in time with other texts, several of them by woman, and several addressing forms of persecution other than that of Christ. The work was commissioned by a Methodist church in Houston, Texas, and some of the texts, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox and Ellen Watkins Harper, are truly on point. The structure of Goodall's Passion is also noteworthy. His background as a film composer shows; each number has its own little instrumental introduction, and sticks to a single mood. The closest comparison would be something like Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man, and if you like Jenkins, you'll like what Goodall has done here. But his voice is unique.

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