Philip Moore’s processional work Via Crucis is a wholesome and glorious concept. It is inspired by A Procession of Passion Prayers, produced to universal acclaim almost exactly three-quarters of a century ago, in 1950, by Eric Milner-White, Dean of York. Dr Moore’s musical commentaries on Milner-White’s texts are wholly remarkable, burning as they do with the white heat of inspiration ‘full clear on every page’, to quote the famous initial verse of E.H. Plumptre’s notable and greatly loved hymn Thy hand, O God, has guided.
Via Crucis was recorded in Guildford Cathedral in July 2022 by Richard Moore, now at Christ Church, Oxford, but until Easter 2023 Sub Organist at Guildford. The compelling interpretative skill and superb organ management of the Surrey cathedral instrument has been produced in the wake of the removal of the infamous original roof tiling that had prevailed for so very long.
How one’s heart rejoices in the richness of the resultant voicing and enhanced regulation of this fine instrument in its wonderfully rejuvenated state! The Guildford foundation will be justified in being the inheritors of a fine recording from their noble building set to music by their second Organist and Choirmaster since the consecration in 1961.
The Milner-White devotional texts are expressively spoken by The Reverend Dr Barry Orford, whose memorably enhanced tone of voice is an absolutely ideal vehicle for Milner-White’s stanzas. The composer’s notes on this lovely music pinpoint an ingenuity in terms at once lucid and logical, indicating how much is thematically derived during its course.
The hymn melody Rockingham – universally sung to Isaac Watts’s When I survey the wondrous cross – is the most moving finale, entitled The Crown, to the sequence of words and music. A masterstroke and a real summation of everything that has gone before, it serves, in the composer’s own words, ‘… to anchor worshippers into a familiar world of words and music associated with Holy Week.’
Warm congratulations to all involved in a superb recording of this remarkable work. The splendid momentum achieved both in space and silence displays a rarely found sensitivity from the recording team of Adaq Khan, George Arthur Richford, Mike Cooter and Adrian Green, who have really served the player, speaker, librettist and composer well in an exemplary manner.