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Settings of the Passion are part of an ancient tradition within the Church in which all four Gospel accounts of the Passion are sung to plainchant in Holy Week. Over the centuries the three main elements of the story were separated out onto different reciting tones, and later given to different singers: a priest to sing the words of Jesus, a deacon the main narrative, and a sub-deacon the words of other minor characters including the crowd, Pilate and Peter. One of the earliest surviving Passion settings with polyphonic music for the crowd and minor characters is the late mediaeval anonymous St Luke Passion in an English manuscript, Egerton 3307 (recorded by Tonus Peregrinus on Naxos 8.555861). By the time of J.S.Bach, the Passion setting had developed into a much more elaborate sequence of solo recitative and arias, chorales and choruses, all characterized according to their emotional function, and set in the local tongue. In his setting, Arvo Pärt eschews all such word-painting and mood-setting, and instead returns to the neutrality of the Latin translation, with each part allocated a certain constant set of notes and durations throughout. Even the silences between sections have a precise duration specified by the number of syllables in the final word of the preceding sentence, and this is the first recording of Passio to take account of the composer’s recent clarification of that particular rule.