DAVID BEDNALL - Stabat Mater

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DAVID BEDNALL - Stabat Mater - Marian Suite - Jennifer Pike (Violin) - David Bednall (Organ) - Benenden Chapel Choir - Edward Whiting (Director) - 802561048121 - Released: July 2016 - Regent REGCD481

For a choral work just premièred in 2015, David Bednall's setting of the Stabat Mater certainly seems to reach back through many centuries for its inspiration, conception and character. The text dates back to the 13th century and is full of powerfully dramatic and passionate meaning and imagery. Bednall sets the tone immediately with an emotionally charged Prelude, scored only for violin and organ. But don't let that fool you. It's impact is profound enough to leave scars and haunt your soul. Violinist Jennifer Pike plays a crucial role in its effect, with a reading that is passionate, emotive and highly evocative. Add the fact that recording engineer Gary Cole achieves perfect balance between the violin and the pipe organ, even when it is going full stops, and the sound alone is enough to grab your full attention. And when the 30 girls voices of the Benenden Chapel Choir make their entrance during the Stabat mater dolorosa that follows, is when you feel the power of the writing pull you back over many centuries, and evoke ancient times and the hallowed sanctity of it all.

The music is at times simply beautiful (Eia, Mater, fons amoris), can transcend time (Fac me tecum), or can touch the sublime in its final movement (Christe, cum sit hinc exire). The combination of girls choir, violin and pipe organ is unusual, but does it ever work. The music itself is infused with an innate gentleness that unites this combination into one, while still being fuelled by an underlying powerful force. Those of you who may believe that today's music has lost its way, need only listen to this recording to realize that some composers, like David Bednall, are still journeying down the main highway.

Jean-Yves Duperron - August 2016