Orange Mountain Music presents the world premiere recording of Philip Glass' The Passion of Ramakrishna. Commissioned by the Pacific Symphony and premiered in 2006 during the opening of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County, Glass' 45 minute oratorio, written for soloists, chorus and large orchestra, is a passion play and a tribute to 19th Century Indian spiritual leader Sri Ramakrishna. The work portrays his death with the chorus taking up the voice of Ramakrishna himself and the soloists are those of his loved ones, doctor and disciples. Maestro Carl St.Clair, a longtime champion of the music of Philip Glass, leads the Pacific Symphony, Pacific Chorale and soloists Christopheren Numura, Janice Chandler Eteme, Kevin Deas, I Chin Feinblatt and Nicholas Preston.
The piece is a 40-minute choral and symphonic tribute to a simple Hindu holy man whose book, the Gospel of Ramakrishna, greatly influenced the composer. Glass score movingly portrays the death and transformation of this 19th century Indian spiritual leader. In its quiet intensity and subtle scene painting, it shows Glass in his element as a theater composer. The Passion of Ramakrishna is scored for a very large - 110-plus - chorus, full orchestra and five soloists, in small but potent parts. Yet Glass thoughtful orchestration and polytonal interweaving of voices, along with St.Clair's and the Pacific Symphony's care for balance and dynamics, maintained an intimate quality throughout. This touching Passion also unfolded with memorable dignity thanks to the restrained singing and superb clarity of John Alexander's Pacific Chorale, and the heartfelt work of soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme, baritone ChristÃ²pheren Nomura, bass Kevin Deas, mezzo-soprano I-Chin Feinblatt and tenor Nicholas Preston. --Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2011