Theatre of Voices, Paul Hillier – David Lang: The Little Match Girl Passion (2009)

Artist: Theatre of Voices, Paul Hillier
Title: David Lang: The Little Match Girl Passion
Year Of Release: 2009
Label: Harmonia Mundi
Genre: Classical
Quality: FLAC (log,image+cue)
Total Time: 01:05:05
Total Size: 244 Mb

The Little Match Girl Passion
01. Come, Daughter 03:41
02. It Was Terribly Cold 02:58
03. Dearest Heart 0:46
04. In An Old Apron 01:17
05. Penance And Remorse 01:31
06. Lights Were Shining 01:41
07. Patience, Patience! 0:33
08. Ah! Perhaps 01:55
09. Have Mercy, My God 04:38
10. She Lighted Another Match 01:14
11. From The Sixth Hour 02:24
12. She Again Rubbed A Match 01:27
13. When It Is Time For Me To Go 03:37
14. In The Dawn Of Morning 02:46
15. We Sit And Cry 04:35
16. For Love Is Strong 11:20
17. I Lie 05:13
18. Evening Morning Day 07:34
19. Again (After Ecclesiastes) 05:36
Alto Vocals [Ars Nova Copenhagen] – Amelie Renglet (tracks: 16, 17, 19), Ellen Marie Christensen (tracks: 16, 17, 19), Linnea Lomholt (tracks: 16, 17, 19)
Alto Vocals [Theatre Of Voices] – Miriam Andersen (tracks: 1 to 15)
Bass Vocals [Ars Nova Copenhagen] – Asger Lynge Petersen (tracks: 16, 18, 19), Henrik Lund Petersen (tracks: 16, 18, 19), Thomas Kiorbye (tracks: 16, 18, 19)
Bass Vocals [Theatre Of Voices] – Jakob Bloch Jespersen (tracks: 1 to 15)
Chorus – Ars Nova Copenhagen (tracks: 16 to 19), Theatre Of Voices (tracks: 1 to 15)
Soprano Vocals [Ars Nova Copenhagen] – Else Torp* (tracks: 16, 17, 19), Hilde Dolva Ramnefjel (tracks: 16, 17, 19), Louise Skovbaech (tracks: 16, 17, 19)
Soprano Vocals [Theatre Of Voices] – Else Torp (tracks: 1 to 15)
Tenor Vocals [Ars Nova Copenhagen] – Chris Watson* (tracks: 16, 18, 19), Kasper Eliassen (tracks: 16, 18, 19), Tomas Medici (tracks: 16, 18, 19)
Tenor Vocals [Theatre Of Voices] – Christopher Watson (tracks: 1 to 15)
Conductor – Paul Hillier (tracks: 1 to 15)
Composer – David Lang
Recorded on October 25, 2007 at Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall.

David Lang’s the little match girl passion, for vocal quartet doubling on percussion instruments, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008. It’s a strong, striking piece with a surprisingly potent emotional punch. Part of its effectiveness derives from the story itself, which is so achingly poignant that it can hardly fail to raise a lump in the throat. The text is primarily compiled from the story by Hans Christian Andersen and from familiar sections from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, which sound fresh and new in English translation. Lang’s clear-eyed avoidance of sentimentality saves the story from the bathos into which it could easily sink in a less skillful musical setting. Several movements have a trademark minimalist sound surface, whose repetitions (rarely literal here; Lang is a master of subtle rhythmic and melodic shifts) can drive home a point with stark power. The movements share a melodic simplicity that gives them the immediacy of plainchant, but the insistent repetitions, irregular overlapping polyphonic lines, and clashing harmonies mark this as a modern, even innovative work. Part of its genius lies in Lang’s ability to create music that sounds archaic and universal, and at the same time entirely contemporary. The performance by Paul Hillier’s four-member Theatre of Voices is nothing less than astounding in its purity, clarity, precision, and warm blend. The music creates a mood of simple directness, but it makes technically outrageous demands on the performers, and it’s a testimony to the singers’ virtuosity that they make it sound spontaneous and effortless. The CD is filled out with four a cappella works admirably performed by Ars Nova Copenhagen. The harmonic stasis and repetitions that characterize these works make them more conventionally minimalist, and as a group they make less of an impact than the featured work. The most persuasive is evening morning day, a setting of the first creation story in Genesis, in which Lang sets only the nouns (although the omits the name of God, and sneaks in a few adjectives.) Using this small set of words, he plays with listeners’ musical expectations, as verbal patterns emerge and subtly evolve through the progression of the narrative. The sound of the SACD is vibrant, present, and life-like, particularly in the little match girl passion. Highly recommended for fans of new music. –Stephen Eddins

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