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Composed in 2015, Stabat Mater was commissioned by the Genesis Foundation for Harry Christophers and The Sixteen. Scored for mixed chorus and string orchestra it is a long-awaited sequel to the early masterpiece Seven Last Words from the Cross (1993), for the same forces; indeed, the later work begins with the pianissimo ‘dying breaths’ with which the earlier score so unforgettably closes. Cast in four movements Stabat Mater has a duration of 53 minutes. Following the première London’s Financial Times commented that the composer “speaks of a ‘painful world of loss, violence, and spiritual desolation’ […]. Both sides of MacMillan are to be found here, the devotional and the painter of bold, dramatic canvases – the former in the ethereal writing for solo and ensemble voices, the latter in the lacerating blows and feverish anxieties depicted in the string ensemble.”

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