Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week

Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week

by Clarion Choir


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The work on this Grammy-nominated recording has a complex history: it was written by its composer, a Lithuanian Jew who had converted to Christianity to marry the daughter of his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov, just as the Soviet Union got serious about banning religious observances. The work was published abroad, but attracted little publicity. It was known to Shostakovich, who gave a copy to a Russian-American conductor, whose daughter passed it along to the present forces. This and a version by the Cappella Romana (also an American choir) are the first recordings of the piece. It's quite compelling. Steinberg's most important model is the Rachmaninov "All-Night Vigil, Op. 37," with the similarity residing in the degree to which Slavonic chant melodies permeate the music. Most of the 16 sections of Steinberg's work use chant in some way (some are simply pieces of chant), and you can sample one of the movements (such as "Of Thy Mystical Supper") that elaborates on the chant immediately preceding. Steinberg does not exploit the characteristic Russian bass sound as much as Rachmaninov does, but his choral writing is satisfyingly dense, and the small Clarion Choir keeps things clear with the divisi passages that at times include as many as 12 parts. The sound from New York's Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is a major attraction. Another model for Steinberg was the similarly titled work by Alexander Grechaninov, which, like Steinberg's, was a concert work, and it seems certain that listeners who have heard only the Rachmaninov work in this somewhat forgotten tradition will value this release highly.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/12/2016
Label: Naxos
UPC: 0747313366576
catalogNumber: 8573665
Rank: 86314


  1. Of Thy Mystical Supper
  2. The Master's Hospitality
  3. Thy bridal chamber I behold decked
  4. Arise, O God
  5. Lament not for me, O Mother
  6. Passion Week, for chorus, Op. 13

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