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Monk: Mercy

Album Summary

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin
>Hollenbeck, John : line 1, for cymbals with microphone (for Meredith Monk's Mercy)
>Hollenbeck, John : line 2, for cymbals with microphone & violin (for Meredith Monk's Mercy)
Performers Composers

Notes & Reviews:

"As always, Monk shuns Western conventions of musical rhetoric and instead digs deep to the elemental roots of human vocalisation in search of her expressive language. East and West, ancient and new, all come together in an eclectic world of musical inclusiveness, and the score has all the candour and clarity, strength and simplicity, that have characterised her work over the past three decades." ***** - John Milson, BBC

Notes & Reviews:

Personnel: Meredith Monk (vocals); Allison M. Sniffin (vocals, violin, viola, piano, synthesizer); John Hollenbeck (vocals, melodica, piano, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, cowbells, cymbals, percussion, bells, gong); Theo Bleckmann, Katie Geissinger (vocals).

Recording information: Sorcerer Sound, NY (03/19/2002/03/20/2002).

Mercy is a music theater collaboration between Meredith Monk and visual artist Ann Hamilton, described as "a meditation on the human capacity to both extend and withhold compassion, kindness, empathy, and mercy." It's scored for six dancer/vocalists, two keyboards, percussion, violin, and theremin. Music and choreography are by Monk, with installations by Hamilton. Conception, development, and direction were shared. This disc is the audio-only portion of the show with nary a liner note to sort things out a bit. Mercy represents a lovely evolution in Monk's work, with few surprises and departures within the unique and evocative genre she has created. The music is mostly very tonal in the traditional sense and lulling in a calmly minimalist way, though thoughtful and edgy, rarely letting one slip into comfortable inattention. Most of the singing is pure vocalise -- from lyrical singing and chanting to whispers and whoops -- trading the blatant sense of language for a gut experience that aims at something deeper and more atavistic than word setting may achieve. What good is all this without witnessing the stage setting by Hamilton and the remarkable dance and movement choreographed by Monk? Good enough to enjoy and merit total attention in the audio realm alone only, if one is a die-hard fan. There is simply no way to get a sense of Mercy without the visual element. The musical score to, say, Oklahoma! pretty much captures the entire sense of the show. But Mercy has sections called "doctor/patient," and "line 3 and prisoner," for example, which have almost no meaning stripped of the staging elements. That is the problem with getting Monk's theater works on audio-only discs; wait for the DVD of the entire production.~Gerald Brennan



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Works Details

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: braid 1 and leaping song, for
  • Performers: Allison Easter (Voice); Ching Gonzalez (Voice); Allison Sniffin (Piano); Meredith Monk (Voice); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); John Hollenbeck (Bells); John Hollenbeck (Xylophone); Allison Sniffin (Viola); John Hollenbeck (Percussion); John Hollenbeck (Marimba); John Hollenbeck (Vibraphone); Bohdan Hilash (Clarinet)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: braid 2, for voices & bowed m
  • Performers: Ching Gonzalez (Voice); Meredith Monk (Voice); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); Allison Easter (Voice); Allison Sniffin (Piano); John Hollenbeck (Marimba)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: urban march (shadow), for voi
  • Performers: Meredith Monk; Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); John Hollenbeck (Piano); Ching Gonzalez (Voice); Allison Sniffin (Synthesizer)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: masks, for voices
  • Performers: Ching Gonzalez (Voice); Allison Sniffin (Piano); Meredith Monk (Voice); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); John Hollenbeck (Percussion)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Hollenbeck, John : line 1, for cymbals with microphone (for Meredith Monk's Mercy)
  • Performers: Meredith Monk; John Hollenbeck (Cymbals)
  • Notes: This selection is performed on cymbals with microphone.
  • Running Time: 1 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: doctor/patient, for voices, p
  • Performers: Allison Sniffin (Piano); Meredith Monk (Voice); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); John Hollenbeck (Vibraphone); John Hollenbeck (Marimba)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Language: English
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Hollenbeck, John : line 2, for cymbals with microphone & violin (for Meredith Monk's Mercy)
  • Performers: Allison Sniffin (Violin); Meredith Monk; John Hollenbeck (Cymbals)
  • Notes: This selection is performed on cymbals with microphone and violin.
  • Running Time: 1 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: woman at the door, for voices
  • Performers: Ching Gonzalez (Voice); Allison Sniffin (Piano); Meredith Monk (Voice); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); John Hollenbeck (Melodica)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: prisoner, for voices & ensemb
  • Performers: Ching Gonzalez (Voice); Allison Sniffin (Piano); Meredith Monk (Voice); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); John Hollenbeck (Bells); John Hollenbeck (Cymbals); John Hollenbeck (Percussion); John Hollenbeck (Bell); Bohdan Hilash (Clarinet)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: epilogue, for voice, clarinet
  • Performers: Allison Sniffin (Piano); Meredith Monk (Voice); John Hollenbeck (Melodica); Bohdan Hilash (Clarinet)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: shaking, for voices & ensembl
  • Performers: Ching Gonzalez (Voice); Allison Sniffin (Piano); Meredith Monk (Voice); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); John Hollenbeck (Xylophone); John Hollenbeck (Percussion); John Hollenbeck (Marimba); John Hollenbeck (Bell); John Hollenbeck (Gong)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 5 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: liquid air, for voices & bowe
  • Performers: Ching Gonzalez (Voice); Allison Sniffin (Piano); Meredith Monk (Voice); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); John Hollenbeck (Vibraphone)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 53 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: urban march (light), for voic
  • Performers: Ching Gonzalez (Voice); Allison Sniffin (Piano); Meredith Monk (Voice); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); John Hollenbeck (Triangle); John Hollenbeck (Percussion); John Hollenbeck (Vibraphone); John Hollenbeck (Marimba); Bohdan Hilash (Clarinet)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 5 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Monk, Meredith : Mercy, opera for 6 voices, 2 keyboards, percussion, violin & theremin :: core chant, for voices & mari
  • Performers: Ching Gonzalez (Voice); Allison Sniffin (Piano); Meredith Monk (Voice); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); John Hollenbeck (Marimba)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001
  • Studio/Live: Studio