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Hyperion Records

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Good Friday (2002) by Maggi Hambling (b1945)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67796
Recording details: April 2010
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: March 2011
Total duration: 9 minutes 23 seconds

'Ešenvalds displays an impressive command and variety of musical language … soloist, choir and strings are first-rate' (Choir & Organ)

'Ešenvalds responds to the purpose of the words he sets, occupying similar choral territory to the likes of Whitacre and Shchedrin, character rather than ego dominating … Ešenvalds favours the upper voices, giving them luminous, floating melodies against backgrounds that set them in shimmering relief or throw mysterious, penumbrous cloaks around them. Polyphony typically balances beauty of timbre with precise articulation and empathy with the texts' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Within seconds I knew I was going to adore this CD and the music of Eriks Ešenvalds … this is a performance of considerable impact, not least in the second movement when the electrifying choral cries of 'Crucify' dissolve so magically into calm, plainchant-inspired music above which Carolyn Sampson floats with angelic luminosity … if the music wasn't so utterly gorgeous, I would happily devote several hundred words to praising Stephen Layton for these totally absorbing performances. Along with Polyphony, he set the benchmark long ago, and while this is as good as anything they've ever committed to disc, the real praise here has to be reserved for Eriks Ešenvalds, whose music clearly warrants a great deal more exposure' (International Record Review)

Night Prayer
First line:
Mistress of night watching down on me
composer
2006
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Night Prayer is an extended nocturne, a prayer for protection to the goddess of night. The words are by Glendora J Bowling, a retired medical practitioner and published poet. Here we encounter again the composer’s very personal extended tonality, an ever-shifting harmony that frequently contains simultaneous tonics and subdominants, often coming to rest in unexpected places, like a sudden shaft of light. Melodies are full of his characteristic flattened sixths; textures can be rich in polyphonic elaboration, octave doublings picking out salient strands of the fabric, or they can reduce down to drones and long-held chords that support the bright shards of colour above, Ešenvalds’ beloved solo sopranos (and altos) prominently spotlit. The work begins in stillness and quiet, becoming increasingly dense and restless and reaching a fierce brilliance of ‘elation’ before winding down to the hushed supplication of its opening.

from notes by Gabriel Jackson © 2011

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