HOWARD GOODALL (b.1958): Invictus - A Passion.
Catalogue Number: 09U066
Description: The composer's intention in producing a new version of the Passion is to explore its 'universal' message of "persecution of the innocent, malevolent authority exerting itself against ideas that threaten and challenge, the power of a peaceful, loving humility in the face of tyranny, the facing-down of fear". The actual Passion narrative is not taken from the Gospels directly, but from a poetical retelling by Æmelia Lanyer née Bassano, "Salve Deus Rex Judæorum", published in 1611. Although the events depicted are directly drawn from the Biblical account - this is not some modern 'reinterpretation' - the fact that the account was written by a woman brings a modern sense of equality to the storytelling, and some of the poems with which the Passion is embellished and illuminated are also by female poets; Christina Rossetti, Ella Wheeler Wilcox and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. William Ernest Henley's 1875 poem "Invictus", which gave us the oft-quoted phrases "bloody but unbowed" and "master of my fate / captain of my soul" plays a pivotal rôle, symbolising the story's 'universal' message of defiance of crushing authority. Since this narrative of the Passion is intended for modern times, a doubting voice is introduced; that of the atheist A.E. Houseman, whose "Easter Hymn" essentially asks Christ, "Are you dead and unaware of what 2000 years of Christianity have done, or did you rise, in which case we need you now more than ever?" Musically, the work is clearly intended to appeal to all types of audiences and congregations; the composer's career encompasses a great deal of popular musical theatre and music for television (the Blackadder series!), so he has no difficulty setting his texts with an approachable, thoroughly tonal, populist touch. Texts included. Kirsty Hopkins (soprano), Mark Dobell (tenor), Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford, Lanyer Ensemble; Stephen Dalrington.