Jan Garbarek and Hilliard Ensemble (CD Review)

Remember Me, My Dear (ECM, 2019).

Remember Me, My Dear

Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble

ECM New Series 2625

The Hilliard Ensemble disbanded five years ago. Happily, they made a few recordings for ECM that have allowed listeners to continue to enjoy new music from them. Remember Me, My Dear was recorded on their last tour in 2014 at the Collegiate Church in Bellinzona, Switzerland. It celebrates a quarter century of collaboration, beginning with the Officium album, released in 1994 to wide acclaim.

As with their previous collaborations, Remember Me, My Dear features both early music by composers such as Hildegard von Bingen, Pérotin, and the ever ubiquitous Anonymous, as well as twentieth/twenty-first century pieces by Arvo Pärt, Komitas, and Russian liturgical composer Nikolay Kedrov. Often the blending of resources is impressive. Garbarek creates imitative lines that further elaborate Kedrov’s “Litany” and revels in the modal scales found in “Procedentem Sponsum.” The saxophonist solos over the Hilliard Ensemble singing suavely arranged jazz chords on his original “Allting Finns.”

Elsewhere, there is a juxtaposition of disparate elements. On an Agnus Dei by the Renaissance composer Antoine Brumel, the counterpoint from the voices serves as a backdrop for cascading runs by Garbarek. In the title track, which originally appeared on the studio album Mnemosyne, a homophonic chanson is elaborated with saxophone filigrees between phrases.

Garbarek’s original “We are the Stars” is a rapturous piece, with soprano saxophone contributing altissimo register climaxes that are shadowed by countertenor David James in his own upper register. Guilliame Le Rouge’s fifteenth century chanson Se je fayz deuil ideally presents the autumnal warmth of the quartet’s sound in the Collegiate Church’s generous acoustic. Pérotin’s Alleluia Navitas provides a joyous colloquy between Garbarek and the singers. Who knew that medieval organum could so successfully afford rollicking, bluesy rejoinders?

Remember, My Dear amply demonstrates that, until the end of their work together, the Hilliard Ensemble remained in fine voice.  It is always difficult to say goodbye to a group that has played such a pivotal role in one’s study and enjoyment of music. The post-disbandment releases shared on ECM have been a generous surplus. The Hilliard Ensemble, and their collaboration with Garbarek, will be dearly remembered for a long time to come.

-Christian Carey

“3 Kenyon Songs” – “Psalm 103” (SoundCloud)

May 2016 recital photo - Noble - Carey - Ihnen

This week I am posting recordings from a May 2016 recital that was performed at All Saints’ Church in Princeton, New Jersey. Organized by soprano Sara Noble and the Contemporary Undercurrents of Song Project, it was given for me after I returned home last Spring from having cancer surgeries in Nashville. It was the most thoughtful musical homecoming a composer could experience.

Below are two live recordings from the event: You may check out my Soundcloud page for addition selections. The first is a duo version by Sara and mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen of my Psalm 103 setting.

The second has often been performed but never before recorded in its entirety – the piano-vocal version of my Three Kenyon Settings, performed by Megan and pianist Graeme Burgan. (Singing cellist Jody Redhage commissioned the set for herself to perform and made a recording of one of the songs, “Otherwise,” that you can also hear on Soundcloud.

Program for 5/28 Concert

Hope to see some of you tomorrow at 5 PM at the concert being given at All Saints Church in Princeton. Five world premieres in one show – what joy, what luck!

Program

*All selections composed by Christian B. Carey, unless otherwise noted

Spiritual Variations I & II

Tom Colao, organ

Je suis aimé de la plus belle Text by Cle ment Marot

Sara Noble, soprano

Selections from Nocturnes Composed by Cortlandt Matthews

i. on a particularly clear night

ii. a streetlight manifesto

iii. a Mulder meditation

Jessica Moreno, mezzo-soprano and Sergey Tkachenko, piano

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven Text by W.B. Yeats

Fiery Sunset

Psalm 103

Megan Ihnen, mezzo-soprano and Graeme Burgan, piano

Thomas Cunningham, piano

Megan Ihnen, mezzo-soprano and Sara Noble, soprano

-intermission-
Anniversary

Lullaby

Reunion

Solo 2

From Blue Symphony Text by John Gould Fletcher

Lullaby Vocalise

Thomas Cunningham, piano

Ian Good, piano

Sara Noble, soprano and Graeme Burgan, piano

Three Kenyon Settings Text by Jane Kenyon

Song

Otherwise

Let Evening Come

Megan Ihnen, mezzo-soprano and Graeme Burgan, piano

Hymn: Add one more seat to the table Text by Kay Mitchell

*All are invited to join in the singing of this hymn*

5/28: Carey Portrait Concert in Princeton

Christian Carey - head shot

EVENT: Christian Carey Portrait Concert

WHEN: Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 5 PM

WHERE: All Saints Church, 16 All Saints Road, Princeton NJ 08540

Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project and Sara Noble proudly co-present this composer portrait celebrating Christian Carey’s music and his contribution to the community as a composer and teacher. The concert will feature performances by many of his friends and former students.

Free admission, donations graciously accepted

Program: (all music by Christian Carey, unless otherwise noted)
Spiritual variations I & II for organ – Tom Colao
Je suis aime de la plus belle – Sara Noble
Nocturnes for Mezzo, by Cortlandt Matthews – Jessica Moreno and Sergey Tkachenko
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven – Megan Ihnen and Graeme Burgan
Psalm 103 – Megan Ihnen and Sara Noble
*Anniversary – Thomas Cunningham
*Lullaby – Thomas Cunningham
*Solo 2 – Ian Good
*Reunion – Ian Good
From Blue Symphony – Sara Noble and Graeme Burgan
*Lullaby Vocalise – Sara Noble and Graeme Burgan
Kenyon Songs – Megan Ihnen and Graeme Burgan
Hymn: Add one more seat to the table

* indicates world premiere

Featuring:
Graeme Burgan
Tom Colao
Thomas Cunningham
Ian Good
Megan Ihnen
Cortlandt Matthews
Jessica Moreno
Sara Noble
Sergey Tkachenko

Messiaen – Poemes pour Mi (CD Review)

Olivier Messiaen

Poèmes pour Mi

Bruun Hyldig Duo (Hetna Regitze Bruun, soprano; Kristoffer Hyldig, piano)

Naxos CD 8.573247

Hetna Bruun is billed as a soprano here, but she routinely sings as a mezzo. Given that Olivier Messiaen’s song cycle Poèmes pour Mi was composed for a Wagnerian soprano, Marcelle Bunlet, to sing, Bruun’s voice has the perfect combination of requirements to do it justice: a warm vocal color and a mezzo’s timbre with fine control of an extended upper register. Similarly, Kristoffer Hyldig combines traits at the piano, playing with power where needed and acting elsewhere as a reserved colorist. The 1936 composition is a love letter to Messiaen’s first wife Claire Delbos (nicknamed “Mi” because she played the violin and its top string is tuned to “E”). The CD includes another song cycle dedicated to Delbos, Chants de Terre et de Ciel (1938), one that celebrates the birth of their son Pascal in 1937. It is astonishing to be reminded that, even though both of these cycles are from relatively early in Messiaen’s career, they demonstrate most of the signatures of his mature musical language, harmonically and rhythmically. Vocalise-Étude is also included here. Of the three it is the least successfully performed, as it sits a bit higher than Bruun’s comfort zone. Still, all told, this is an impressive disc of Messiaen’s vocal music that reminds us of the prodigious feats he was capable of even early on in his career.

Holly Herndon: “Platform”

Platform

Holly Herndon

4AD/RVNG Intl.

Most graduate students spend their time studying for comprehensive exams, giving conference papers, and readying their CV’s for the brutal academic job market. As a doctoral candidate at Stanford University, Holly Herndon is likely doing most or all of these things. But she is also crafting music of intense energy and winsome vitality that is being released commercially. It is nice to see the distinction between ‘academic music’ and ‘popular music’, between ‘electroacoustic music’ and ‘electronica,’ being utterly obliterated by her latest recorded outing Platform.

The use of electronic elements sits astride these two genres. There are beats aplenty that bump up against creatively morphed vocals and all manner of synthesizer magic. In terms of creative use of voices, I would put Herndon’s Platform alongside Jenny Hval’s Apocalypse Girl, Björk‘s Vulnicura, and Roomful of Teeth’s Render as this year’s exemplars thus far. It is exciting to contemplate what Herndon’s postgraduate work will look like.

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Herndon also has an enthusiasm for the visual. Several of the album’s tracks feature creative videos in which she is the protagonist in somewhat skewed scenarios. For an imaginative example, check out the video for “Morning Sun” below.

Björk sings Tavener

We were saddened to learn of the passing of John Tavener, English composer of concert music based on the Christian Orthodox liturgy.

John Tavener composed “Jesus Prayer” specifically for Björk Guðmundsdóttir’s voice.

She posted the following message on her website: “John tavener : i feel honoured that i got to know him … and that he wrote one song for my voice … incredibly pure composer

condolences to his family

warmth,
björk.”