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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: 6 minutes 43 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)

A drop in the ocean
First line:
Pater noster, qui es in caelis / Lord, make me a channel of your peace
composer
2006; commemorating the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta
author of text
The Lord's Prayer; Luke 11: 2b-4; Psalm 55: 6-8
author of text
Lord, make me a channel of your peace
author of text
My work is as nothing but a drop in the ocean

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Dating from 2006, A drop in the ocean commemorates the life Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The piece is the most extended example of Ešenvalds’ use of avant-garde techniques to serve his particular expressive ends: the ‘mystical’ atmosphere of the opening is achieved by a combination of whistling and the sounds of quiet breathing; a mysterious and elusive world is immediately conjured up. The altos murmur a self-communing Pater noster on a monotone, while the sopranos’ plaintive prayer is shadowed by a blurred version of the same melody. Their serenity is contrasted with the male voices’ troubled, whispered rendering of that same prayer, which increases in intensity and venom as an unsynchronized pentatonic texture builds above them, eventually introducing the flattened sixth that will characterize the music that follows. After a brief blaze of light comes a sustained paragraph of saturated, ecstatic, ten-part polyphony. Eventually a solo soprano emerges—there is something of the Evangelical call-and-response tradition in her interaction with the full choir—before a lush cadence winds down into one of Ešenvalds’ ‘eternal’ codas, and we hear the same oscillation of tonic and subdominant chords that ends Passion and Resurrection. In live performance, as the soloist’s repeated entreaties are gradually enveloped by muffled whistling, a semi-translucent cloth is drawn over the heads of the singers; once they are completely covered, and sound has returned to silence, the cloth reveals the face of Mother Teresa.

from notes by Gabriel Jackson © 2011

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