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.
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.
Viola player David Aaron Carpenter brings together works united by their composers’ longing for home. Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, deftly arranged for viola by Carpenter himself, and Bartók’s desolate Viola Concerto are each influenced by Eastern European folk song—both composers lived in the U.S. as they wrote their masterpieces, dreaming of their motherlands. Walton’s sweetly melancholic Viola Concerto has an unsettled feeling, while Alexey Shor, now a U.S. resident, recalls his native Kiev with music of great emotional depth and character. Carpenter’s flawless playing is the perfect vehicle for this rich, varied program.
This thrilling album showcases some of Lang’s most urgent, rhythmically complex music performed by an incredible ensemble lineup: the London Sinfonietta, Crash Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, and more. The title track, “Writing on Water,” sets a scintillating patchwork libretto that pieces together literary descriptions of shipwrecks and drowning in its commemoration of the Battle of Trafalgar. Lang’s Nyman-like vocal music lurches and pitches amid a bustling instrumental accompaniment that combines electric guitar and orchestra. The incessantly exciting “Forced March” is a series of relentless collisions between melody and rhythm, while “Increase” combines complex musical patterns and contrasting moods to hypnotic effect.
The "100 Years of Italian Opera" series released by Opera Rara is unique in the annals of opera recordings. However, this installment is especially exciting as it documents the evolution of Italian opera during the 1820's, the decade when romanticism truly began to come into its own on the operatic stage. Opera Rara has lovingly compiled a variety of arcana written by composers famous and forgotten. Included is everything from overtures to arias, duets, ensembles, and entire scenes.
Over the course of three discs, VOYAGE neatly navigates the long, rich career of David Crosby. Though he's best known as one-third of Woodstock-era folk-rock harmonists Crosby, Stills & Nash, the man with the angelic voice and the walrus moustache boasts a resume whose high points extend well beyond that association. VOYAGE doesn't stint on CSN (and sometimes Y) material, but the journeys into his early days with the Byrds, his solo albums, duo recordings with Graham Nash, and latter-day work with CPR are equally telling. From the mid-'60s Byrds tracks up to the present day, Crosby's knack for close, complex vocal harmonies, unusual jazz-influenced chord structures, and raga-tinged melodic lines serves as a connecting thread. VOYAGE allows listeners to follow Crosby's winding path through disparate eras, stopping off to marvel at the gorgeous sonic scenery along the way.