If you’re looking for a contemplative and devotional Lenten and Passiontide listening experience then [this CD] is a welcome break from Stainer’s Crucifixion.
Via Crucis is a cantata by Fr. Armando Pierucci, with texts by the Russian poet Regina Derieva, in the form of meditations based on the Stations of the Cross. One could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at the prospect of an Italian priest setting Russian words and the whole lot being sung by a Lithuanian choir and a varied selection of soloists. Well, surprisingly, it all fits together quite neatly. You can’t get more cosmopolitan than that. The musical language of Fr. Pierucci is eclectic and none the worse for it. He blends Italianate lyricism with Slav majesty and gravitas. I found the result fascinating if not always convincing. Quite whether this style will become liturgically adopted in the Roman Church I rather doubt, and probably more’s the pity. It would be an improvement on much of the ephemeral tripe that has been on offer of late.
The singing, from both the soloists and from the choir is, not surprisingly, excellent. The accompanist is good, though the instrument, an un-named electronic organ, is dire. The addition at one point of an electronic keyboard ( or possibly an organ stop) rankled considerably. All that said, I reckon that if you put a stylophone in St. Kasimir’s Church in Vinius it would sound brilliant. The acoustic and the engineering are first rate, a big pity about the instrument. [** NB but see review below for contrary view!] Overall, it’s a disc worth buying for the singing alone and what is, in all honesty, an interesting work. It may convince one day – see what you think.