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Hyperion Records

1EMJ2O - Pitts: Jerusalem-Yerushalayim
Het nieuwe Jeruzalem by Blandine van Noordt-Grauer

Recording details: October 2011
Memorial Chapel, Charterhouse, Godalming, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Parry & Alexander L'Estrange
Engineered by Daniel Halford & Richard Bland
Release date: August 2013
Total duration: 114 minutes 12 seconds

An ancient tale, a unique city, a new oratorio
The King of Salem
On Mount Moriah
Blessing and cursing
A house for the Lord
Called by My Name
The King of Babylon & the Desolations of Jerusalem
Seventy weeks
The walls of Jerusalem
Many days without a king
In the valley of dry bones
A house of prayer for all people

This is the first recording of dynamic English composer Antony Pitts' largest work to date, and the first release in a new partnership between Hyperion and the label 1equalmusic. The expert vocal and instrumental ensemble Tonus Peregrinus is joined by a host of other musicians in this work where meltingly lyrical moments sit side-by-side with explosive rhythmic outbursts to make something of a sacred-jazz-spectacular.

A printed souvenir booklet (190mm square) to accompany the release is available separately. Click here for more details.

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Introduction  EnglishFrançais
The eyes of the world today are on Jerusalem. More than any other city, Jerusalem has captured hearts and imaginations around the world and continues to reflect the turbulent emotions of our troubled times. The city of Jerusalem has a complex, multi-layered history stretching back thousands of years, and continues today to be the literal and symbolic focus of many, often conflicting, aspirations. Jerusalem – placed at the centre of the world on mediaeval maps – a crossroads between Asia, Europe, and Africa. Jerusalem – occupied by Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Ottomans, British etc. Jerusalem – the scene of central events in Jewish history and in the Christian gospel – and now home to Jewish, Christian, and Islamic holy sites. While today’s media story is of division and hopelessness, the Bible tells an extraordinary story with a much longer perspective – a story of incredible hope that begins in Genesis with the wanderings of Abraham, and extends from these Semitic roots to a vision of lasting peace for all people, starting in Jerusalem.

In 2006 the composer Antony Pitts was inspired to begin sketching an oratorio that would tell, simply but powerfully, the Biblical story of Jerusalem – to audiences familiar with both great classical oratorios and popular musicals, and regardless of denomination or religious background, cultural perspective or political viewpoint. The result is an oratorio-musical with a libretto based on texts from the Tanakh (the “Old” Testament) laid out in a narrative order, and with the ancient Hebrew names for familiar Biblical characters and places (e.g. Avraham) – thus the double-barrelled title Jerusalem-Yerushalayim. The Biblical story of the city is told through twelve windows or snapshots in which Jerusalem is either the subject or the background; mirroring the four quarters of Jerusalem’s ‘Old City’, these are divided into four sections of three movements:

(A) the city in patriarchal times; (B) the city as the capital of Israel and then of Judah up to its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in 586BC;
(C) the city rebuilt under occupation until its destruction by the Romans in 70AD;
(D) the city as prefigured by prophets and unfolded in history;
and a coda looking forward to Isaiah’s vision of the wolf living together with the lamb.

The libretto was compiled by the composer and is drawn as directly as possible, given the limitations of English translation and the musical setting itself, from Biblical texts – texts which are both historical and prophetic, full of archetypes and resonances, and are at the same time about real people with their dreams, tragedies, and hopes. The music is new, but has strong historical echoes including familiar Western musical references such as Tallis’s Lamentations, Purcell’s My Beloved spake, Handel’s Zadok the Priest, and Parry’s I was glad – as well as various resonances from far outside the classical canon. In terms of practicality and approachability, and even structure, Jerusalem-Yerushalayim is modelled on Handel’s Messiah, and designed for widespread use: by professional vocal ensembles or amateur choirs, or a mix of both – with SATB soloists and flexible accompaniment.

Unusually, the first part of the oratorio to be completed was the conclusion – the choral coda entitled The peace of Jerusalem. It was premiered by the Choir of London, conductor Jeremy Summerly, in Israel in April 2007, and has since had performances in the UK by Tonus Peregrinus at the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, and by the Elysian Singers under the direction of the composer in the City of London. Tonus Peregrinus recorded the coda for Hyperion on an album called Alpha and Omega, and in June 2008 gave the world premiere of the complete oratorio at Opera Fringe in Down Cathedral, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland – to a standing ovation. The revised and expanded version of the oratorio was recorded in October 2011, followed by the U.S. premiere in May 2012 which was given by Choral Arts Cleveland under conductor Martin Kessler.

1equalmusic © 2013

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