Osvaldo Golijov
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La Pasión según San Marcos [work details]
Hänssler Classic 98404
Released 08-28-01

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CD 1
Track 1Visión: Bautismo en la CruzBaptism on the Cross
Track 2Danza del Pescador PescadoDance of the Ensnared Fisherman
Track 3Primer AnuncioFirst Announcemet
Track 4Segundo AnuncioSecond Announcement
Track 5Tercero Anuncio En Fiesta NoNot on the Feast Day
Track 6Dos DíasTwo Days
Track 7Unción en BetaniaThe Anointment in Bethany
Track 8¿Por Qué?Why?
Track 9Oración Lucumí (Aria con Grillos)Aria with Crickets
Track 10El Primer DiaThe First Day
Track 11Judas; El Cordero PascualJudas; The Paschal Lamb
Track 12Quisiera Yo RenegarI Forswear This World
Track 13EucaristíaThe Eucharist
Track 14Demos GraciasWe Give Thanks
Track 15En el Monte de los OlivosOn Mount of Olives
Track 16Cara a CaraFace to Face
Track 17En GetsemaníIn Gethsemane
Track 18AgoníaAgony
Track 19ArrestoThe Arrest
Track 20Danza de la Sábana BlancaDance of the White Sheet
Track 21Ante CaifásBefore Caiaphas

CD 2
Track 1Soy Yo (Confesión)I Am (Confession)
Track 2Escarnio y NegaciónScorn and Denial
Track 3Desgarro de la TúnicaThe Rending of the Robe
Track 4Lúa DescoloridaColorless Moon
Track 5Amanecer: Ante PilatoMorning: Before Pilate
Track 6SilencioSilence
Track 7SentencíaSentence
Track 8ComparsaSoldiers
Track 9Danze de la Sábana Porpura-Manto SagradoDance of the Holy Purple Robes
Track 10CrucifixiónCrucifixion
Track 11MuerteDeath
Track 12KaddishKaddish

Osvaldo Golijov's St. Mark Passion runs on a river of ironies and upended expectations. After all, who would expect an Argentine Jew to write a piece based on the most Christian of all narratives, the account of Jesus' trial and crucifixion? Passions, of course, hold a place of honor within the European musical and religious tradition. That history, and the form's link to Bach in particular, cannot be forgotten; indeed, this passion, like three others (by Rihm, Tan Dun, and Gubaidulina) also commissioned by the Bach Akademie Stuttgart and conductor Helmuth Rilling, were meant to commemorate the year 2000 Bach anniversary.

Instead of aping these cultural paradigms, what Golijov does instead is totally reconstruct and reform the idea of the Passion. Structurally and emotionally, Golijov's Pasión plays out as a psychological drama rather than a strictly religious, or strictly linear, narrative. There's a strong hallucinatory element involved: no soloist or choral group is assigned a single role, so characters cross the pendulum between ultimate goodness to ultimate betrayal and back again without clear distinction. Musically, too, elements flow into each other without clear boundaries. Among Golijov's sources are European choral singing, African rhythms, and a variety of South American and Caribbean styles, including Argentine tango, Brazilian capoeira, and Cuban són. Most astonishingly, however, none of this feels forced. Instead, Golijov presents us with a thoughtful meditation not only on the Passion story, but also on what it means to be a 21st-century composer rooted in the music of three continents and nearly innumerable cultures.


Recorded live at the piece's premiere at Stuttgart's European Music Festival, this two-disc set gives a sense of the sheer drama of Golijov's work. Brazilian singer Luciana Souza, Cuban vocalist (and dancer) Reynaldo González Fernández, and the stellar Schola Cantorum de Carácas all give exemplary performances—natural and idiomatic, and yet highly alert to the demands Golijov makes of them. An important recording, then, and one that deserves serious attention.

—Anastasia Tsioulcas, ClassicsToday.com