Friday, April 22, 2011

Frank Martin's Golgotha

A performance of Frank Martin's Golgotha is available on BBC Radio 3 for a week. The NY Times says "Passion without hyperbole." Andrew Clements in the Guardian says that its a hard work to like.

Martin tells the Passion story but does not tell listeners what to think or feel by resorting to dramatically graphic music. A bittersweet, contemplative melancholy pervades the score, which moves almost continually at a calm pace. The opening chorus, with words taken from the “Confessions” of St. Augustine, sets the mood for the entire work.
The chorus sings three aching yet unforced cries of “Père!,” answered each time by weary melodic fragments in the slowly churning orchestra. The reference to the opening of Bach’s “St. John Passion” is obvious. But Martin gives us a biblical meditation rather than a musical drama in the manner of Bach, who alternated passages of urgent recitative and choral outbursts with reflective arias and chorales.

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