Maximilian Steinberg’s “Passion Week” arrived in New York on Tuesday evening in a stunning performance by the Clarion Choir, conducted by Steven Fox at the Church of St. Jean Baptiste on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Actually, it had semi-arrived in April, when Clarion gave a closed reading of it...
The work is a treasure. Steinberg’s style, with its contrapuntal complexities and its enriched harmonies, is slightly advanced over that of Rachmaninoff, excerpts from whose “Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom” filled out the Clarion program in lovely fashion.
The Clarion forces, who specialize in early music, have been expanding their range of late, and they did so decisively here. (With a little help: This music demands a deep rolling bass sound, and Clarion brought in a noted basso profundo from Michigan: Glenn Miller.) The solos were well delivered by Estelí Gomez, soprano; Michael Steinberger, tenor; and Philip Cutlip, baritone.
Happily, the Clarion version of the work is being recorded this week, as Cappella Romana’s was in the spring. Truly, however belatedly, Steinberg’s moment has arrived.