It is almost by chance that I came across this composition for orchestra and choir of which I had quite astonishingly never heard before. It is a work that is worth listening to, and which, in my opinion, surpasses even Bach’s work of the same title. It is surprising in its Baroque tones, and in that it incorporates all the elements characteristic of Western music: chorus, fugues, solos, arias, etc, and mixes them with tones of the Russian liturgy. What is perhaps even more surprising is that the piece was composed by H.E. Hilarion of Vienna of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
I couldn’t help thinking after hearing this piece, that it seems to be Russia which currently embodies Europe, European culture at its best, at a time when even Europeans themselves appear to shun their own past and culture.
Even so, the understanding of the Passion in Russia, as well as in other orthodox lands, is quite different from the one we have in the West. Bishop Hilarion’s work may then be a ‘summary’ of the best aspects of European culture and history in their entirety. Read the article here.