Notes & Reviews:
The first major choral setting of The Diary of Anne Frank takes the teenager's remarkable and penetrating observations, written whilst hiding in an Amsterdam attic, as the basis of its extraordinary and moving libretto. Whitbourn's music for this work has been described as "woundingly beautiful" (The Daily Telegraph). He reflects sounds of the Westerkerk bells and tunes heard on the radio in the Annexe, along with representations of Anne Frank's Jewish and German heritage, details that add to a score "whose respectful understatement is its greatest strength" ( The Times).
I have to say that Whitbourn does a wonderful job finding musical contexts and expressive techniques to realize them. He uses his chamber instruments (violin, cello, piano, clarinet) well, sometimes calling them to create the sounds of traditional Jewish music, at others to paint a mood, whether of gloom or levity, contemplation or exuberance or apprehension. And his writing for unaccompanied voices, which constitutes a large part of the score, is superb; there are so many moments of happy inspiration throughout that you easily glide past the less shining sections.
BBC Music Magazine, February 2013
Whitbourn's loving imitation of Bachian chorale in 'Courage', and the poignant lyrical intertwining of voices and instruments in 'Kyrie Sinfonia', are...moments when words and music meld impressively together. Where Whitbourn reacts to the text in more explicitly theatrical fashion, Annelies is less convincing...The performance as a whole, however, is well prepared and palpably committed, as befits a premiere recording.
Gramophone Magazine, February 2013
The greatest accomplishment here is that James Whitbourn has created some music of great beauty, without trespassing into the realm of the cloying. Not only does that release one to listen to the work's oases of soaring melody...with impunity but leaves the integriy of such an important piece of literature, and history, intact.
The Observer, 20th January 2013
James Whitbourn sets [the text] with such tender respect it's almost impossible to hear without tears...Arianna Zukerman sings with subdued beauty and the Princeton University Westminster Williamson Voices shape Whitbourn's exquisite lines (and Bach-like chorales) with deft precision.
Recording information: Princeton Meadow Church, New Jersey, USA (05/14/2012-05/16/2012).
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Works DetailsWhitbourn, James : Annelies, for soprano, chorus, clarinet, violin, cello & piano (chamber version)
- Performers: Lincoln Piano Trio (Trio); Bharat Chandra (Clarinet); Arianna Zukerman (Soprano)
- Conductor: James Jordan
- Ensemble: Lincoln Trio
- Notes: Princeton Meadow Church, New Jersey, USA (05/14/2012-05/16/2012)
- Running Time: 67 min. 4 sec.
- Period Time: Contemporary
- Written: 2009