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A Bridge of Dreams / works for a cappella chorus by Lou Harrison, Anne Boyd, Liu Sola, et al.

Audio Samples

>Harrison, Lou : Mass for St. Cecilia's Day (Gregorian Mass), for male chorus, harp & drone
>Edwards, Ross : Sacred Kingfisher Psalms, for chorus
>Body, Jack : Lullabies (5) for chorus
>Holland, Kevin Crossley : The Seafarer for narrator, harp, psaltery & chorus (from 'The Afterlife of Li Jiantong')
>Boyd, Anne : As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams, for chorus

Album Summary

>Harrison, Lou : Mass for St. Cecilia's Day (Gregorian Mass), for male chorus, harp & drone
>Edwards, Ross : Sacred Kingfisher Psalms, for chorus
>Body, Jack : Lullabies (5) for chorus
>Holland, Kevin Crossley : The Seafarer for narrator, harp, psaltery & chorus (from 'The Afterlife of Li Jiantong')
>Boyd, Anne : As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams, for chorus
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Everything Paul Hillier touches turns into choral gold. (New York Times)

This scintillating vocal music from the Pacific Rim features composers and poets from China, Japan, California, New Zealand, and Australia ... and one ancient Anglo-Saxon Seafarer. Unusual and lovely music sung by the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble, Ars Nova Copenhagen, under their conductor Paul Hillier, and with early harp virtuoso Andrew Lawrence-King.

The music on this recording looks mostly beyond Europe for its inspiration, and does so in two ways. Firstly, the composers come from the Pacific Rim. Secondly, they are composers who have consciously looked beyond Western aesthetic traditions to create a musical language with a variety of different reference points. Some have found their sources close at hand in the aboriginal cultures of the land where they live, while others have looked towards the religions and music of Asia. The results are still based in concert music - not musical exotica - but the direction from which their ideas have arrived gives their music a sense of openness and receptivity.

The pieces:

LOU HARRISON: Mass for Saint Cecilia's Day (1983)

ROSS EDWARDS (b. 1943) Sacred Kingfisher Psalms

JACK BODY (b. 1944) Five Lullabies (1989)

LIU SOLA (b. 1955): The Seafarer - Recitation: Paul Hillier

ANNE BOYD (b. 1946) As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams

"I can sum up the recording quality on this disc in a single word: magnificent. Originated in DXD, the realism and perspective of the choral sound is simply breathtaking, and one is very aware of how well the singers exploit the very responsive church acoustic... Lovers of choral music should not miss this inspiring programme, given a typically superlative performance by Ars Nova Copenhagen; their sharp focus, immaculate precision in tuning and ensemble, complete commitment and virtuoso technique is second to none, and we can now add their skilful exploitation of a venue's acoustic. Unmissable." -SA-CD.net

American Record Guide
this is a delightful release full of worthy music and performances that bring it alive with infectious joy.

Gramophone
Anne Boyd's As I crossed a bridge of dreams... with its rapt sostenuto, steals the show. Almost endlessly sustained, immaculately imagined, and - like everything else here - admirably performed.

The WholeNote
Curious and delightfully captivating... [Hill's] ability to cope with challenging contemporary repertoire... leaves no doubt about his extraordinary musicianship... Harrison's and Edwards' works appear to practice some kind of musical alchemy and do so with the skilful formulation of Ars Nova's choral ingredient.

Allmusic.com
The mass is a beautifully expressive, immediately engaging piece that reveals a fresh facet of the composer's brilliantly expansive imagination. Australian composer Anne Boyd's As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams is an immensely impressive work for wordless chorus. Boyd creates a mesmerizing dreamscape that's essentially static harmonically but that's continually shifting densities and textures and is never less than sonically gorgeous. Ars Nova Copenhagen sings with chaste but warm tone, smooth blend, tonal precision, and alert musicality under the leadership of Paul Hillier. This is an album that should be of strong interest to fans of new choral music from off the beaten path.

The Observer (London)
Anne Boyd's "As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams"... grabs the attention. Based on the whole-tone scale, the music moves very slowly in deliciously textured, monumental chords that show this world-class choir at its best.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: St. Paul's Church, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Reviews

Fascinating and unusual new choral music worth a listen!
Paul Hillier has been a superb choral director and master of the lesser known for decades now. He became known first for producing vocal ensembles that specialized in early Baroque and Medieval repertoire but for the twenty years he has championed contemporary vocal music of the highest order. This new disc with the Ars Nova Copenhagen is very unusual and very compelling. The title of the collection is also the title of the closing work, by Australian Anne Boyd and, in turn, taken from a traditional Japanese book by the mysteriously unknown Lady Sarashina. There is a sort of beauty and mystery to each of these works and the collection is certainly not like any other a capella choral work you have likely heard. The opening piece, "Mass for St. Cecilia's Day" by Lou Harrison. Easily the "name" composer in this collection, Harrison sets the traditional Latin mass, much as it would be heard for the feast of St. Cecilia or any other early Catholic liturgy but in his own, somewhat 'eastern' trademark style. You have to listen carefully the semitone resolutions and Tibetan inspired harmonies that characterize Harrison in between the plainchant. Joined in part by harpist/psalterist Andrew Lawrence-King, this is a very pleasant work. The three works that come from composers bearing a connection to Australia and New Zealand. Closing with the title work by Anne Boyd, "As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams" is a beautiful, soft work inspired by the medieval Japanese text from Lady Sarashina. Boyd's harmonies and voicings are other worldly and the work slides from harmony to harmony in a most effective manner. Jack Body's "Five Lullabies" is a set of wordless vocalises that have their phonetic roots in a variety of cultures including Japanese, Chinese and Latin. The polyphony is challenging for the singers and a pleasure to listen to. I found Ross Edwards "Sacred Kingfisher Psalms" the most unusual but most captivating (to me) work represented here. Edwards sets the texts of Psalms #1 and 130 in a manner inspired by Australian Aboriginal imagery including the indigenous names of stars, rivers and birds. Psalm 130 even has sections within text requiring singers to intone the names of native birds but singing fully notated patterns that mimic the cries and calls of the birds. This a strangely hypnotic work that truly sounds as if Latin sacred texts were superimposed on an Aboriginal ceremony of sorts. I really enjoyed the Boyd, Body and Edwards the most. The Liu Sola and Kevin Crossley-Holland arrangement of the medieval Anglo-Saxon text, "The Seafarer" for reader/narrator and psaltery is taken from an earlier vocal only version the same text by Chinese composer Liu. I understand the inclusion of this into the collection but it did not do much for me compare to the vocal works, the three described above, in particular. There is much to be admired in this collection. The program is intensely creative and unusual, thanks in large part to the artistic vision of Paul Hillier, and the Ars Nova Copenhagen are amazing singers who bring energy and beauty to these works.
Submitted on 12/19/11 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Harrison, Lou : Mass for St. Cecilia's Day (Gregorian Mass), for male chorus, harp & drone
  • Performers: Andrew Lawrence-King (Harp); Andrew Lawrence-King (Psaltery)
  • Conductor: Paul Hillier
  • Ensemble: Ars Nova Copenhagen
  • Running Time: 20 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1983-1986

>Edwards, Ross : Sacred Kingfisher Psalms, for chorus
  • Performer: Asger Petersen (Tamtam)
  • Conductor: Paul Hillier
  • Running Time: 13 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2009

>Body, Jack : Lullabies (5) for chorus
  • Conductor: Paul Hillier
  • Running Time: 2 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1989

>Holland, Kevin Crossley : The Seafarer for narrator, harp, psaltery & chorus (from 'The Afterlife of Li Jiantong')
  • Performers: Andrew Lawrence-King (Psaltery); Andrew Lawrence-King (Harp)
  • Notes: This work was written in collaboration with Liu Sola.
  • Running Time: 7 min. 51 sec.
  • Written: 2009

>Boyd, Anne : As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams, for chorus
  • Conductor: Paul Hillier
  • Running Time: 11 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1975