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.
Paul Hillier and ArsNova Copenhagen continue their exploration of Danish vocal music. The main work here, Line Tjørnhøj’sVoxReportage, was composed in close cooperation with the artists, and weaves various sources together –including 1981 Nobel laureate Elias Canetti, Chelsea Manning, and Rabi’ahal Adawiyya(8th-century Iraq) –to create a ‘reportage’ on the nature of humanity over the past thousand years. In Carl Nielsen’s Three Motets, Renaissance polyphony and the composer’s more personal style are molded into something fresh and powerful; the Swedish Romantic composer Stenhammarsets Danish texts, while Holmboesets British border ballads. Everything about this album crosses borders of one kind or another!
This performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion is sung in English and played on modern instrument. If that bothers you, don't bother checking out this recording. If it doesn't bother you, and you like the idea of a heartrending, awe-inspiring, and profoundly moving performance of Bach's sacred dramatic masterpiece, by all means, try this recording. David Willcocks, the dean of English choral conductors, leads the combined forces of the Bach Choir, the Boys' Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Thames Chamber Orchestra along with six A-list British soloists in a deeply human, intensely spiritual, and amazingly dramatic performance of the work.