Lang: the little match girl passion (2009)

Lang

Theatre of Voices - Ars Nova Copenhagen

Paul Hillier

A particular story, in fact: the story of The Little Match Girl, by the danish author Hans christian Andersen. the original is ostensibly for children, and it has that shocking combination of danger and morality that many famous children’s stories do. A poor young girl, whose father beats her, tries unsuccessfully to sell matches on the street, is ignored, and freezes to death. through it all she somehow retains her christian purity of spirit, but it is not a pretty story.

what drew me to The Little Match Girl is that the strength of the story lies not in its plot but in the fact that all its parts – the horror and the beauty – are constantly suffused with their opposites. the girl’s bitter present is locked together with the sweetness of her past memories, her poverty is always suffused with her hopefulness. there is a kind of naive equilibrium between suffering and hope.

there are many ways to tell this story. one could convincingly tell it as a story about faith, or as an allegory about poverty. what has always interested me, however, is that Andersen tells this story as a kind of parable, drawing a religious and moral equivalency between the suffering of the poor girl and the suffering of Jesus. the girl suffers, is scorned by the crowd, dies and is transfigured. I started wondering what secrets could be unlocked from this story if one took its christian nature to its conclusion and unfolded it, as christian composers have traditionally done in musical settings of the Passion of Jesus. (excepts David Lang)

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Paul Hillier

His musical interests range from medieval to contemporary music and include singing, conducting, and writing. In 1990, after many years as Music Director of the Hilliard Ensemble, he founded the Theatre of Voices and began his series of acclaimed recordings for harmonia mundi usa. From 1996 to 2003, Hillier was Director

of the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington. In September, 2001 he was named Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, with which he launched
a cycle of recordings exploring the choral tradition of the Baltic Sea countries. Baltic Voices 1 and Baltic Voices 2 met with unanimous praise and each won Hillier a Grammy® nomination.The Powers of Heaven, a much-admired pro- gram of Russian Orthodox sacred music, was followed by Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil, Op. 37 and, most recently, by Baltic Voices 3. In 2004 Paul Hillier was awarded the Estonian Cultural Prize.

In 2002 he was made Honorary Professor in Music
at the University of Copenhagen, and in 2003 accepted the post of Chief Conductor of Vocal Group Ars Nova (Copenhagen). Hillier is the author of a monograph “Arvo Pa?rt” (1997) and editor of “The Collected Writings of Steve Reich” (2002), both published by Oxford University Press. His latest project is a book about consort singing.

Theatre of Voices - Ars Nova Copenhagen

The Grammy®-award winning ensemble THEATRE OF VOICES was founded by Paul Hillier in 1990. Current projects include music ranging from Dowland, Carissimi, Buxtehude and Bach, to many of today’s most eminent composers such as Arvo Pa?rt, Steve Reich, John Cage, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, and David Lang. The group regularly performs at Edinburgh Festival, Barbican Centre and Carnegie Hall – where they premiered David Lang’s “The Little Match Girl Passion.” The piece was commissioned for TOV and won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. The harmonia mundi recording won a Grammy® Award in 2010. TOV’s 2007 recording of Stockhausen’s “Stimmung” led to the ensemble being invited to open the 2008 Berliner Festspiele at the composer’s request. Theatre of Voices works with some of the world’s best instrumentalists and has premiered Gavin Bryars’s “The Stone Arch” with the Kronos Quartet at Barbican Centre’s Steve Reich Festival. In 2009 the ensemble presented a new production by Chinese composer Liu Sola also at the Barbican Centre and Takkelloftet at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen: “The Afterlife of Li Jiantong.” Presently, Theatre of Voices is working with London Sinfonietta on a new round of music by Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. 

Lang

David Lang is the recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Music for the little match girl passion, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices, directed by Paul Hillier. One of America’s most performed composers, his recent works include writing on water for the London Sinfonietta, with libretto and visualsby English filmmaker Peter Greenaway; the difficulty of crossing a field – a fully staged opera for the Kronos Quartet, staged by Carey Perloff and the American Conservatory Theater; loud love songs, a concerto for the percussionist Evelyn Glennie; and the oratorio Shelter, with co-composers Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, at theNext Wave Festival of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, staged by Ridge Theater and featuring the Norwegian vocal ensemble Trio Mediaeval.
David Lang is currently on the composition faculties of both the Yale School of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He is also Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the New York music festival Bang on a Can.

 

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Lang: the little match girl passion (2009)

Lang

Theatre of Voices - Ars Nova Copenhagen

Digital Converters: Meitner DSD AD/DA
Producer: Robina G. Young
Recording Engineer: Brad Michel / DSD engineer: Chris Barrett
Recording location: Stavnsholt Kirke, Copenhagen, Denmark
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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1.
come, daughter
Lang
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it was terribly cold
Lang
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dearest heart
Lang
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in an old apron
Lang
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penance and remorse
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lights were shining
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patience, patience!
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ah! Perhaps
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have mercy, my god
Lang
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she lighted another match
Lang
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from the sixth hour
Lang
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she again rubbed a match
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when it is time for me to go
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in the dawn of morning
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we sit and cry
Lang
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for love is strong - 2007
Lang
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I lie - 2001
Lang
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evening morning day -2007
Lang
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again -after ecclesiastes- 2005
Lang
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