Image © EMI Classics 2009
More Karl Jenkins:
Stella Natalis (2009)
Stabat Mater (2008)
Kiri Sings Karl (2006)
Vocalise (2003) (SK)
Vocalise (2003) (PVV)
Adiemus Live (2001)
Adiemus Concert Review - Cardiff (2001)
The Eternal Knot (2000) (feature)
(07 Feb 2010) After the enormously successful Adiemus series, it has been more than great to witness how often choirs and orchestras across the world have been performing also other works by the Adiemus creator, the phenomenal Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, particularly his Armed Man mass and Requiem being the biggest favourites to be performed. And, now that EMI Classics has released Karl's Stabat Mater (EMI Classics (UK) 5099950028320 CD; 5099950028351 Digital, 2009), in no time even this interpretation of the 13th century Latin poem will become as popular piece of music to be performed as Karl's other successful works have become!
Like Requiem and the Armed Man mass, Stabat Mater provides a slightly unusual approach to the conventional setting. After the multi-denominational Armed Man mass and the Japanese-influenced Requiem, Jenkins' very interesting musical journey continues as he brings the listener once again to the East. This time, the sources of inspiration lie on the poetical and musical cornucopia of the Middle East area, particularly in the area once known as Persia.
On Stabat Mater Jenkins has not only added his own trademark by using indigenous instruments of that area(such as the double-reed woodwind instrument mey, the hand-drum-like riq and the under-the-arm-played drum called darabuca, but in addition he has broadened the concept of grieving by including six different texts such as a quote from the world's oldest written story "Gilgamesh" on "Are You Lost Out In Darkness?", a poem by a 13th century Persian mystic poet Jalal-al-din Rumi on "Now My Life Is Only Weeping" and a couple of more modern poems to name but just a few examples. These elements are then beautifully woven into the great orchestration and choral scoring, made with extreme care by the composer and executed more than brilliantly by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the big chorus featuring the EMO Ensemble of Finland and Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, not forgetting the two vocal soloists, astonishing mezzo-soprano Jurgita Adamonyte and the European goddess of Arabic music, singer/multi-instrumentalist Belinda Sykes.
Surely, many feel themselves more or less suspicious with this kind of multidimensional approach, fearing that they might only hear randomly mixed and matched hodgepodge, but, in fact, Karl Jenkins' Stabat Mater is a million miles away from disaster at least! The music, lyrics and interpretation of them really go hand in hand all the time, and even the occasional self-quotations from Karl's earlier works fit surprisingly well even into this context.
To summarize, Stabat Mater is a welcome addition to the Jenkins discography, and it will likely be be a composition that will be deeply cherished and appreciated among the music listeners and performers across the world and also in the future. Stabat Mater is simply far too
good to be forgotten completely, even despite of the partly challenging vocal parts at times.--Suvi Kaikkonen in Oulu, Finland